Not just women rights, men’s lives matter too!

Published on May 15, 2021 08:34 PM IST

Around two decades ago, false claims of dowry harassment leading to psychological abuse and incarceration of husbands became the norm

Men have become gynophobic and have begun viewing the institution of marriage as a snare (Representative Image/HT)
Men have become gynophobic and have begun viewing the institution of marriage as a snare (Representative Image/HT)
ByDr Chetana Vaishnavi

“Tell me, do wives frequently harass their husbands or is the incidence directly proportional to the number of years of marriage?” an unmarried friend asked me recently.

I told her that it was indeed true in several cases. “Oh! this is completely new to me. I have heard of husbands harassing their wives and not vice versa,” she said, with a hearty laugh. As she fished for more information, I asked her to read the newspapers attentively every day.

Many advertisements and movies show domestic violence against women, little realising that it is a two-way street. Incidentally, Aamir Khan’s TV show, Satyamev Jayate, had also observed that men do not suffer from marital hostility. Several years ago, a woman was conferred a socio-cultural award because she had the guts to incriminate her husband and in-laws in her marital home when she found that her husband was earning less than her! How did it matter who earned more when the money one earns is for mutual comfort?

Legal terrorism : Guilty until proven innocent

Around two decades ago, men became acutely aware of this legal terrorism by wives. False claims of dowry harassment leading to psychological abuse and incarceration of husbands became the norm. Once in custody, which is non-bailable, husbands generally lose their jobs. Who will reach out to such men in misery? A person is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, but here a person is held guilty until proven innocent!

Consequently, men have become gynophobic and have begun viewing the institution of marriage as a snare. This has put the institution in danger and has resulted in a reduced wedding rate in the country. As most men marry after becoming financially stable, the likelihood of losing their wealth and property due to false implications, has discouraged many a man from committing to a partner.

Domestic violence against men is increasing in leaps and bounds and the novel-coronavirus lockdown has added to incidents of violence against the ‘stronger sex’.

Most cases of domestic violence against men go unreported as they feel too humiliated to report abuse and fear false accusations against them in reprisal. Men activists have been asking for laws that are gender neutral and not women-centric because anti-dowry laws are often being misused to extort husbands and to harass them.

Reversing trend in domestic violence

These laws are responsible for the high rate of suicide among married men who are tortured by their wives and their relatives. A recent survey showed that around 65,000 married men had died by suicide against 28,000 married women. This certainly shows that the trend of domestic abuse is reversing. If a married woman commits suicide within seven years of marriage, her husband and his family are taken into police custody, whereas hardly any action is taken when a man ends his life due to the torture by his wife and in-laws.

We must definitely empower women but not at the expense of men. After all, their lives matter too!

(The writer is a former PGIMER professor)

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