Gender Biased Issues: Why Men as victims cannot avail legal benefits on account of Constitutional flaws



Gender Biased Issues: Why Men as victims cannot avail legal benefits on account of Constitutional flaws

A recent twitter thread by a media executive talked about his harrowing experience while applying for a job. The employer turned out to be demanding sexual favors in return for the recruitment. The saddening part was the reaction meted out to him on Twitter, from people calling him a fraud to the mockery of his ordeal.

Welcome to 21st Century India, where we are carefully trying to bring about a balance in the gender scales by constitutional amendments and implementation of policies. And in a frenzy to appreciate the grand scheme of things we are quite conveniently turning a blind eye to the rampant sexism we’re dishing out to our men on a daily basis. From lessons on ‘manning up’ to perpetuating ideas of toxic masculinity, our boys are growing up into conflicted individuals. There are thousands others like this Twitter user, who faced blatant sexual advances from the opposite sex and chose to keep mum.

Even constitutionally in a bid to bring about much required changes, the lawmakers indulged in pacifist measures for the masses, and left gaping loopholes which are being continually exploited and render the innocent as accused.

Recently, the #Metoo movement has shaken up our lehal polity and forced to take stock of our constitutional remedies. The 1997 instituted Vishaka Guidelines, followed by Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013 or the PoSH Act are some of the judicial weaponry we have to bring the perpetrators to justice. Any offensive act can be met with up to five years of imprisonment. However, it would be interesting to note how none of these can be availed for reprisal and the safety of men in a workplace. The entire idea of men being victims is widely questioned by many, depicting a skewed outlook when it comes to sexual violence. The numbers of men actually undergoing the trauma and violations may be numerous and coming across stories such as the one mentioned above, is probably just the tip of the iceberg.

Here’s a look at a few more laws and Amendments that are severely unfair to men.

Indian Penal Code 497: According to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court, in case of an adulterous affair both the wife and her partner would be exonerated. This was considered to be a progressive act of inclusion and equality, however it raised many pertinent questions. Earlier, the law stated only the men to be guilty of adultery in spite of women being equally involved and partaking of the act. With the amendment it leaves no room for charging the guilty whether a man or a woman. Moreover, in case of a subsequent estrangement and divorce the former husband has to pay the alimony for maintenance as per the directions of the court.

In neither situations, did the perpetrators get charged nor did the victim get justice. It ultimately stands to be an absolute violation of the Equality before Law provision.

Sec 13 (1) (i) of Hindu Marriage Act, Section 27 (1)a of Special Marriage Act and Divorce Act 1936: Adultery can be a valid ground for divorce however a woman cannot be guilty of adultery. This implies that a child cannot be illegitimate until proved so. This again translates into the situation of supporting a wife and her child in spite of having been through a separation on the grounds of the wife’s adultery. Moreover, conclusive evidence in such cases require DNA testing which is only notified and allowed by the Court of Law and often not indicated to preserve the welfare and state of the child in question. This proves to be a major roadblock and in such cases, more often than not the ruling is in favour of the wife or the mother. And men can once again be found to be on the losing end

Cr PC 125: in case of a divorce, the husband is liable to pay for the alimony and maintenance of the wife as per directions of the magistrate.

This would have been a very just, and tables-turning law at a certain point of time. But it largely overlooks the modern concept of working and self-reliant women who are an equal counterpart in the breadwinning activities and contribute substantially to the household income, where an alimony levied only on the husband is not just backward but also a merciless, heavy bargain for the working man. Especially so, in cases such as the wife’s adultery being the grounds of divorce. The Constitution fails to provide for these small but significant number of situations wherein men are victimized.

Indian Penal Code 509: A heavy fine and a year-long prison sentence is to be awarded to men intending to insult the modesty of women and intruding her privacy. However in thousands of cases such as Manan’s there is no remedy or redressal whatsoever for men who have been physically assaulted, faced with unwanted sexual advances or their privacy intruded into.

This idealogy goes a long way back to the times we bring up our children. We forget to teach our boys it is just as unacceptable to touch one inappropriately as it is to be touched. Consent works both the ways and our children should not grow up thinking otherwise. Girls, should not be taught to be protected and they must remember a mishandled glass of drink should not poke on another man’s comfort or privacy.

IPC 376 [2]: It has been one of the most debated topics of the last few years- marital rape. Now, with the change of laws, it can be met with a heavy fine or up to two years of imprisonment-for the husband.

The sheer number of cases reported indicate a male dominance in the trial box, but the court of law cannot function on majority and subjective statements. In a cohabitated condition of two adults, any spouse who’s unwilling is equally probable to forced into intercourse. In such cases, physical dominance and assertion becomes secondary, when any one of the partners is being forced to have sex against her or his wishes.

Domestic Violence Act 2005: It can be filed by any woman against her in laws and husband. The penning down of the act accorded registration of an FIR without any evidence.

This had come as a much needed respite to many of the aggrieved women in the country. But it had quite unsurprisingly given rise to a number of false complaints and incidents of harassments by the daughter in law in a bid to extract monetary benefits and residential perks.

In a flurry of similar incidents in 2009, wherein women citing domestic violence led to the arrest of apparently innocent in laws and husband, gave rise to the concern about the power it bestows upon the complainant and no room for justification or clarification by the accused.

Thus, even though these laws were instituted with the best intentions in mind they often fail to offer the necessary resolution to the victims and serve as counter-justice mechanisms as a whole. Men, although not identified as a vulnerable population are equally liable to be exploited and like any citizen of the country they too have a right to constitutional measures.

Now, would you call it simply a Man’s world or the Patriarch’s Domain?

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