Victims of the System
"Umesh from UP was falsely accused of molestation by his neighbour aunty when in reality it was a property dispute. When the cops did not find any evidence or grounds against him, they did not probe further into the matter but then the woman went to some senior police officer and asked for action to be taken against him. Umesh felt so harassed, he committed suicide."
While the rest of us strive to achieve reforms and raising the status of women, we totally forget the 'male' gender. They are neglected, labelled and their problems are not taken into consideration, because how can men have problems? They have it easy, we assume. This gender antagonism has led a lot of people wrongly interpreting the cause of feminism. What's more, male-bashing often leads to internet subcultures where critiques of feminism mix with hostility towards women.
Deepika Bhardwaj, a male activist, has sparked a change all across India with her TedxTalks and her documentary 'Martyrs of Marriage.' Her cause that started as a result of a familial problem has now led to a nation level awareness programme. Her documentary features men from parts of India and their voices are given a platform to open up. Approximately, 90,000 married men committed suicide in 2016 alone – this is not an ignorable number.
'Section 498A of the IPC deals with a non-bailable offence which applies to a husband, or relative(s) of a husband, of a woman, who is/are subjecting her to cruelty.' Made with the right intentions to protect women from being harassed, it is being majorly misused and has become a tool in a woman's hand as she can easily frame her husband and his family to gain anything from them. Every man convicted in this case is treated the same way by the police.
If a woman is found guilty of falsely accusing her husband and his family, she has to pay a penalty of Rs10000 or Rs100 and it's bailable. Most cases would just be closed. In majority of these cases they'll accept the case, question the woman, and ask the man to take the case to court. If the woman is found guilty, the judge can prosecute her and initiate proceedings against the woman which is a rare case. In rape cases, we are seeing some progress.
"I know of a case where a woman from Ludhiana, met a Delhi man on Facebook, just one week before her husband committed suicide. Then two weeks after her husband's burial, she and her online 'friend' went to Rajasthan after she came to visit him in Delhi. What happened after that was surprising. After coming back she filed a rape case against him, claiming he drugged her. Now the man is in jail, fighting for innocence with laws that already biased against him," said the documentarian
"What these laws essentially do is they hide what's really happening in our society. And to put the cherry on the cake, there is dowry and harassment, which is usually seen as something that happens to women and not men. These are the clothes you just throw over the real big problem, to underplay it. The truth is, marriages are falling apart, extra-marital affairs are happening so easily, people have no patience," added Deepika.
When asked if she is a feminist, she exclaimed, saying she wasn't because she thinks the modern interpretation of the word just puts her off. She believes the women who graduate from prestigious colleges, celebrities, the 'feminists,' who call the shots are super bigoted and they send the wrong message to the others.
"People call me a male activist but I am just a film maker, I just show the truth and make movies, I am just a story teller and know the right from wrong. If you look at me just as a human being, I am just trying to do something that I saw and thought was right," said Deepika.
On being asked about receiving any political support, she said, "All politicians are the same when it comes to these issues; they all want to play it safe. This is not anybody's concern because it's not on anybody's agenda. It's the backlash that they are afraid of. People are very skeptical when they are powerful because they don't want to lose their position."
She did not start with a plan but now she has a lot of plans which however, don't come with a deadline but after the screenings of her documentary, Deepika is going to work on more projects to spread the word on male harassement. Several issues in this space need to gain attention and be changed. The day she can stop even one person from being framed in a false 498 A case, she'd have done it all and can finally rest.