Cops asked to exercise caution in dowry cases

Recent news in Bangalore, Karnataka says: cops asked to exercise caution in dowry cases.  Well really, this is nothing new but circular issued in Oct 2010 which maybe Bangalore police is re-discovering now that there has been high-profile murder cases due to fear of false cases, and also request by major IT companies in Bangalore to police to not arrest (everyone in family and the dog) merely on filing of a dowry harassment (IPC 498a) case on husband.

The idea of police doing mediation and counselling is almost laughable.  What business or even training does police have in counselling anyone?  Usually the only counselling that happens at police stations is to instil fear of gender biased (read anti-men) laws in men so that the sooner they compromise their self-respect and dignity, the better for them.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bangalore/Cops-asked-to-exercise-caution-in-dowry-cases/articleshow/14728067.cms

M K Madhusoodan, TNN | Jul 7, 2012, 06.26AM IST

BANGALORE: Men falsely accused of demanding dowry can breathe easy. Checks and balances have been put in place to handle dowry harassment complaints that have often led to accused husbands and in-laws being arrested.

Police officers in Karnataka have been told to exercise restraint while making arrests on plaints relating to offences under Section 498-A of the IPC. A recent circular has laid out guidelines to handle such complaints. “An arrest under Section 498-A should be made only with a written order from a police officer of the rank of superintendent in the districts or deputy commissioner in commissionerates. Arrests should be resorted to only for acceptable reasons,” the circular said.

CHECKS & BALANCES
Counsellors will mediate between spouses Counsellors’ reports will be sent to DCPs/SPs Officers will invoke Section 498-A if they’re not satisfied with counselling results Investigating officers can arrest accused husband and in-laws only with written order from jurisdictional DCP/SP All dowry plaints will be screened

Bangalore: The Karnataka police officers have been instructed not to accept dowry harassment cases at face value, and study them well before pressing ahead. This could spell the end — or, at least, reduction — of false and trumped-up cases.

According to a recent circular, all complaints should be screened by professional and trained family counsellors to weed out frivolous cases. Their reports will be submitted to DCPs or officers of equivalent rank; only if they are not satisfied with counselling results can Section 498A be invoked.

The advisory follows recommendations of the Rajya Sabha Committee of Petitions, which has asked the state governments to take effective measures to curb misuse of Section 498-A. The circular also mandates that the guidelines should be displayed at all police stations to ensure the public are aware of their rights/liabilities. ` The dowry harassment law should not be invoked against juveniles, the advisory says. In case of any exceptions, the investigating officer should ensure children are put under the care of the child welfare committee for interim care.

Photos from 26th May Dharna

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.432524646771814.105731.100000428486622&type=3

https://picasaweb.google.com/shivkumar.ac/CenterMensRightsDharna?authkey=Gv1sRgCKb67ayVs5nTag

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.424801104211172&type=1

A few photographs are below:

The dharna goes into gear at Town Hall!

There is good participation by women too.

 

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The graph (blue bars) show the increasing rate of married men’s suicides.  Compare that with the pink bars which show married women’s suicides.

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The message is loud and clear!

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No more men suicides, prosecute militant brides

 

We appreciate the policemen who work long hours in service of the society!

Our activist distributing pamphlets near Town Hall intersection.

Reaching out one man to another

Media coverage after dharna at Town Hall, Bangalore

We had conducted dharna against Marriage Laws Amendment (2010) Bill on Saturday, 26th May, 2012 in front of Town Hall, Bangalore.  Here are some of the coverage and discussion in media due to our dharna:

1. Article dated 27th May 2012 on the 3B, Bangalore edition of Prajavani (Deccan Herald Group) with the tag line “Mahila daurjanya Purushara prathibatane“:

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2. Panel discussion on Suvarna News channel from 6:30-7:30 pm on Sunday, 27th May 2012 about IrBM (Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage Bill) with the program title being “Gandana Golu” (Husband’s plea) where our activist Mr Santosh Patil represented the men’s point of view.

3. News covered in Indiawires.com:

http://indiawires.com/10861/news/national/men-protest-against-marriage-laws-amendment-bill/

4. Good coverage in Cities Section (Bangalore) of New Indian Express on 29th May 2012:

expressbuzz CMR dharna photo

http://expressbuzz.com/cities/bangalore/help-help!-men-are-crying-now/396236.html

Full news below (Note: contrary to reporting in news story, Centre for Men’s Rights (CMR) is an independent organisation with its own charter and principles and is not affiliated with SIFF or any other organisation)

Prajwala Hegde

Express News Service

Last Updated : 29 May 2012 09:18:21 AM IST

BANGALORE: In a country where gender equality directly translates into women rights, mainly because of the numerous cases of exploitation by men, there are cases which have come to fore when men have been at the receiving end. In a connubial gone awry, the Indian traditional and cultural protocols have mandated the society and the law to stamp men as misogynists, concupiscent, greedy, begrudged and every other characteristic that is immoral.      

Branded as villains, men hardly have any option to turn to when a marriage fails. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, ‘Every year, over 62,000 married men commit suicide due to verbal, emotional, economic, and physical abuse and legal harassment. The suicide rate of married men is double that of married women. One married man is committing suicide in every nine minutes.’

But now there is hope. Centre for Men’s Rights (CMR), set up by a group of young men is aimed at preventing abuse of men’s rights.

Part of the Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF), a registered non-profit organisation headquartered in Bangalore, they aim to reduce suicide rate of men and create more acceptability and choices for men in the society.

The organisation recently held a dharna in front of Town Hall to raise their voice against the same. They have condemned the approval by the Union Cabinet recently to changes in Hindu Marriage Act under ‘Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010’.

According to CMR, the evidence of anti-men bias in the bill is that in spite of the fact that 80-85 per cent of divorces are initiated by women, the Bill aims to ‘empower’ wives to veto any divorce filed by husbands on grounds of ‘irretrievable breakdown of marriage’ while the husbands who want to save the marriage will not be allowed to oppose similar petition by their wives.

Deepak, an active member of CMR says, “We are not anti-women. In fact, I believe that a woman builds a foundation for the society. The purpose of the dharna was to protest against the proposed Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage Bill and Right to Marital Property Act as per which a woman can be married for one day and become eligible for 50 per cent of the husband’s property. In India, the proposed amendments will allow a wife to block husband’s divorce petition but a husband will not be allowed to do the same if wife moves a divorce petition on same grounds.”

He adds, “Today’s women are much more educated and aware. How can you have laws which were framed aeons ago?”

Echoing the same sentiment is another member Shivkumar, who says, “A lot of women participated in the dharna. Their brothers and fathers have been through such injustice too. My point is-Don’t segregate good and bad in terms of gender. One example is the Domestic Violence Act which assumes that men are always perpetrators and the moment the petition is filed, the magistrate has to order some kind of interim maintenance, where the man is drained financially even without any investigation. We even have laws against outraging women’s modesty. What about the sexual abuse which happens with men? Don’t we have any modesty? Today, filing a dowry harassment case is much easier than ordering a pizza. We are considered guilty even before proven otherwise. I am not denying that women are abused, but ensure that men are protected too.”

CMR believes that while most democratic countries have laws related to family, divorce, domestic violence, and sexual harassment which treat men and women equally in all these areas, the Indian approach is unique in formulating laws ignoring the equality of sexes granted under the Constitution.

In India’s gender war, there are almost 60 websites, which are committed to promoting the well-being of men in India.

Though the social indicators say that Indian women are clearly far behind men and where less than half of the women in India can read or write, compared with 75 per cent of men, men’s groups still claim that they are increasingly subject to myriad forms of discrimination in the name of development.

5. Centre for Men’s Rights emphasizes on equality:

http://www.bangalorewishesh.com/home/headlines/27226-centre-for-mens-rights-emphasizes-on-equality.html

6. Good coverage in Vijaya Karnataka of 14th Jun 2012:

News about Centre for Men's Rights IrBM protest in Vijaya Karnataka

Dharna against Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010

PRESS RELEASE

Centre for Men’s Rights (http://menrights.org) aims to promote men’s welfare and their human rights and prevent abuse of men’s rights. We aim to reduce suicide rate of men and create more acceptability and choices for men in society.

We have strongly condemned approval by union cabinet recently to changes in Hindu Marriage Act under “Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010”.

To raise our voice against this and other unfair laws against men, we are conducting a dharna on 26th May from 10 am-12 noon in front of Town Hall, Bangalore.

The provisions in the bill are patently anti-men, and it takes away rights of married men while giving rights to married women without any responsibilities:

  1. The bill aims to give married women rights in husbands’ residential property in case of a divorce, and she becomes eligible to 50% of it irrespective of whether it was acquired before or during the marriage. Irrespective of the fact who owns more property and who initiates divorce, the wife is supposed to have property rights whereas the husband has none! The gender bias against men is evident from the start.

  2. The government clearly is not concerned about justifying how a woman who stayed with husband for 1 day becomes eligible to husband’s property! The law is more about easy divorce option for women without commitment in marriage rather than protecting their rights.

  3. Even after making wife 50% owner, the proposed law still gives courts the discretion to divide other movable and immoveable assets owned by her husband. Who will benefit in the end? – the divorcing women, or the legal divorce industry and the unscrupulous women who will use these provisions as a tool to walk out of marriage claiming the riches.

  4. The most damning evidence of anti-men bias in the bill is that in spite of the fact that 80-85% of divorces are initiated by women(source: http://www.tehelka.com/story_main43.asp?filename=hub311009the_rearranged.asp), the bill aims to ‘empower’ wives to vetoany divorce filed by husbands on grounds of ‘irretrievable breakdown of marriage’ while the husbands who want to save marriage will not be allowed to oppose similar petition by their wives. There is a hidden presumption that married women are always with good intentions whereas married men are basically villains.

Men’s rights organisations from across India had made representations about the loopholes in the amendments in front of the parliamentary standing committee, but the government has proceeded ahead with approval of amendments making mockery of public voices of dissent.

Important points not considered in the bill

  1. A hoax being perpetrated behind these amendments is that poor and destitute women are left without home and property after divorce. Has the government conducted a single survey on the topic of the social and economic status of the couples who file for divorce? If it was done, it will be known publiclythat divorce in India is predominantly a middle and upper class phenomenon, and 80-85% of divorces are initiated by women.

  2. There are already provisions in Hindu Marriage Act Section 27wherein the property jointly acquired after marriage can be disposed off by the courts between the divorcing couple. So it is inexplicable as to what need was there to put additional provisions in Hindu Marriage Act that the courts would now need to decide on women’s share in the matrimonial property at the time of divorce, to which they have contributed during the marriage. Such provisions are already covered under both HMA as well as under Transfer of Property Act.

  3. The government has ignored the most damning evidence that the suicide rates of married men have been consistently increasing since last 10 years whereas the suicide rate for married women has stayed the same.

  4. The government prefers to keep its eyes closed to the fact that lot of cases filed against men in matrimonial matters including under IPC 498a, DV Act, maintenance laws being contain false allegations by wives, solely to extract leverage and advantage in property and financial settlement. At the end of long trial, the courts simply pronounce the judgment that there was no evidence found to support wives’ allegations. If there were not enough laws already to incentivize victimization of married men, the government seems to think it has unfinished business here.

Concerns of men ignored in the proposed amendments

Ignoring men’s extended family’s responsibilities: The married men of working age are expected to undertake financial obligations of whole family which in Indian context means their parents and even dependent brothers and sisters. But the proposed amendments ignores the rights of husband’s parents and siblings and is solely concerned with giving property rights to women at time of divorce irrespective of duration of marriage.

Gender neutrality ignored in favour of 16th century mindset: Most democratic countries have laws related to family, divorce, domestic violence, and sexual harassment which treat men and women equally in all these areas. However India is unique in its approach in formulating laws ignoring the equality of sexes granted under the constitution.

A few examples are:

  1. In most countries including Pakistan, domestic violence complaints can be filed by either partner. In India, under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA 2005), domestic violence is considered to be solely perpetrated by married men (and their relatives) over the hapless wives!

  2. In most countries, matrimonial property sharing at time of divorce results in equitable sharing of both assets and liabilities earned by both spouses during the marriage duration. However in India, the proposed bill aims to give property rights to women only at time of divorce. Even if a woman has more property than husband, the law will probably allow woman to lay claim over man’s property. The duration of marriage be it 1 day or 20 years is of no concern, and the property sharing is left to discretion of the courts.

  3. Sexual harassment complaints can be filed by either sex in most countries. However in India, in the recently approved bill by cabinet about Sexual Harassment at Workplace bill, the proposal to include men as complainants has been completely ignored so far in spite of many representations made to government and lawmakers by men’s rights groups.

  4. Divorce rights and obligations are gender neutral in most countries. But in India, the proposed amendments will allow a wife to block husband’s divorce petition moved on grounds of “Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage” but a husband will not be allowed to do the same if wife moves a divorce petition on same grounds. Evidently, the government believes that all Indian wives are like Mother Teresas and all Indian husbands are devils incarnate!

  5. Adultery is a crime which can be committed only by men and not by women under Indian Penal Code (IPC).

India has probably the dubious distinction of being the only large democratic country where in all above areas the existing or proposed laws give relief only to wives/women and exclude men completely from their ambit except treating them as providers or perpetrators! Is India moving towards 21st century or moving back to 16th century?

The law talks only about wives’ rights and has no mention of their responsibilities as wives. These amendments are in continuation of the trend evident in Hindu Marriage laws which seek to define only obligations of married men and only rights of married women.

The proposed amendments if accepted will reduce men to status of slavery in marriage. These so called attempts to achieve equality for women are nothing but attempts to create feminocracy in families and ultimately reduce men to second class citizens and create breakdown in society and a fatherless society.

Our demands:

  1. Centre for Men’s Rights urges the lawmakers that they not pass the bill in its present form and instead modify all laws to make them gender neutral where the word ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ is replaced by the word ‘spouse’.

  2. Government should create a National Commission for Men to study and take on war-footing the problem of increasing men’s suicides, and promote well-being and welfare of men.

SCW passes judgment on mothers as being too pushy on daughters in laws

Further to our news about AIMPF(All India Mothers-in-law Protection Forum) submitting memorandum to Chief Minister of Karnataka in which there were statistics of rising male suicides also, there is update on how the State Confusion for Women (SCW) treats elderly women and mothers.  As to why we call SCW as State Confusion for Women, please read just one recent incident we wrote about its national level sisterhood NCW.  Another clear proof of their confusion is that SCW chairperson says she cannot do anything on policy matters, only individual cases!  Really?  Doesn’t NCW give recommendations on law-making and such matters at national level?  Wasn’t it NCW which said it will go for review about Supreme Court judgment which said “kicking daughter in law is not cruelty under IPC 498a (not that it actually happened in the case)”.  Was that about helping an individual woman or about influencing policy on what constitutes an offence under IPC 498a?

News from Bangalore Mirror below (with our emphasis):

Is women’s panel only for bahus, ask moms-in-law

Talk of prejudices and stereotypes, and the one that immediately springs to mind is that of mothers-in-law as villains of the piece. Recently, a few of them went to the State Commission for Women’s office to demand a rethink on this, while trying to stress that they too are targets of dowry harassment cases and should be heard as any other woman would be. But they returned disappointed.

A few mothers-in-law charged the chairperson, Manjula C, of giving them the short shrift, making them wonder if only causes dear to daughters-in-law find resonance with the commission. “You would think that a commission for women and its chairperson would be sympathetic to all women, without any bias,” was the chorus of the petitioners who landed up at Manjula’s office recently.

Their grouse: When a few of them went at the appointed hour on April 3 to meet Manjula to discuss what they claimed to be the growing incidence of fabricated cases of dowry harassment, the chairperson sent them on their way in just 15 minutes after having made them wait for a month for an appointment! Instead of giving them a patient hearing, the saas gang alleged that Manjula held forth on “random incidents” and walked out within 10-15 minutes.

When Bangalore Mirror asked for her take on the issue, the chairperson shot back, “These people do not have any patience. If they are so pushy with us can you imagine how they treat their daughters-in-law?”

Manjula went on to plead a hectic schedule for not being able to give time to the group. “I had told them to confirm the meeting the previous day because I was traveling from Hubli. These people insisted on meeting me on Tuesday. I had to go elsewhere and had no choice but to leave the meeting half way through. None of these women came to us with individual cases. They wanted to meet and talk about policy matters which we can’t do anything about.”

Sahira Shiggon, a 58-year-old mother in law who has been fighting four cases filed against her by her daughter-in-law, said, “Every time that we wanted to meet her, we were told that she was busy and did not have time for us. 

Finally when Women’s Day celebrations were on at Chowdaiah Memorial Hall in the first week of March, we took out a silent protest  till she agreed to meet us. Even then she told us it would only be possible the following month and gave us a tentative appointment on April 3. We kept following it up with her office and they said that there has been no change in the date and we would meet her at 3 pm in the afternoon. We had specifically asked her for an appointment in the afternoon because we wanted her to give us at least an hour. But suddenly on Tuesday morning, her private secretary gave us a call and said that Chairperson had other engagements and could not meet us.”

Since some of the people were from out of town, this sudden change of plans meant a lot of inconvenience for the group. So they asked for the reasons for the cancellation to be given in writing, according to another member of the group. “Immediately the appointment came back on and Manjula’s secretary told us to come over at the designated time. However, she did tell us that we would not get a lot of time with the Chairperson,” said Shailaja Hiremath who was part of the delegation that called on Manjula.

“When we met her, she first went on for five minutes with her own comments about how young girls should not misbehave. When we asked her to let us present our case instead, she kept talking of random incidents. When you have very little time for us, then why don’t you let us speak?” asked another mother-in-law who alleges she has been harassed by her daughter-in-law with multiple cases.

Refuting Manjula’s claim that none of them had “individual cases”, the mothers-in-law gave case studies. Sumitra Muthuswamy and her son Raju said they found it “very disappointing and insulting” that Manjula walked out in the middle of the meeting. “She said she had a live telecast somewhere. She told us to talk to another member and just walked away,” said Raju. His mother Sumitra says she wanted help with her harrowing ordeal.”There was a fight between my son and her over a travel bag which escalated to such an extent, that she actually bit me and broke my finger. I am almost 60 and when we went to the police station to file a complaint, they did not even accept it. After four days of running around, they finally took our complaint by which time my daughter-in-law had already filed a case of dowry harassment. My son had to stop going to work. As a woman, does my harassment mean nothing to the commission?” was her rhetorical query.

The case takes an even more bizarre turn when Raju goes on to elaborate on his wife’s charges. “She has actually accused my 75-year-old father of making sexual advances on her! Section 498 is really being misused and many innocent people are harassed and we have nowhere to go, because of stereotypes. We had hoped that things would be different with the commission, but were really disappointed”

Mamtha Naik, 61, has been slapped with a dowry harassment case by her daughter-in-law and accused of starving and beating her up. “Nobody is listening to our side of the story,” said Mamtha, who hails from Odisha.

“This is pretty much everybody’s story here. The trauma that we have all gone through is unimaginable. It is enough to erase our faith in humanity and the concept of women being the all compassionate mother figures of the world. If we wanted to meet a member of the commission, we would not have waited for months to get an appointment. All we had wanted was some  time from the Chairperson and we did not even get that,” says Sahira.

Her parting shot: “Is there really no end to our trauma. Would the commission have treated a daughter-in-law forum like this if they had come with their troubles?”