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MEN: THE OPPRESSORS OR SUFFERERS?

Author: Ankita Bhardwaj, III year of B.B.A.,LL.B.(Hons.) from ICFAI Law School, The ICFAI University, Jaipur



“Hey! don’t cry, be a man

Speak loudly, be a man

Don’t be an emotional brat, be a man

Don’t be so shy, be a man

Why are you sitting and doing nothing? be a man”

And the list goes on and on…

From childhood to old-age

From being an infant till becoming a sage

From being in the pre-primary till the getting stationary

All these are the tantrums which men have to carry…


The masculine term “Man” was originally derived from the old English word “man or mann” which means “human being”,” person” (male or female). So, originally the word was gender neutral but with the passage of time it became the identity of the masculine gender particularly.


The major reason behind the increased gender inequality is the age-old patriarchal belief system and the its gender stereotypes. This could also be proved because most of the things we do, we do because we saw our ancestors doing those things, or it is more of a belief system. Similarly, the gender conflicts in current times are majorly a result of our rigid and undeterred continuation of our customs and usages. There are numerous ways in which men are condemned to ill-treatment. They are more or less treated like a non-living substance with no consideration towards their feelings and emotions. And in case they do not fit in the narrow definition of “MALE” and are expressive of their emotions, they are labelled as “wimp”, “sissy” and a “girl”. Moreover, they are given a tag of being “needy” in case they come out of this stereotypical thinking and ask for some help, closeness, reassurance and attention.


“The men are condemned to be the oppressor and the women as oppressed”, according to the gender conspiracy theory. But this theory is now being challenged by some modern researchers asserting that men too fall victim to the patriarchy.


The society needs to understand that men are also the composing element of human beings just like women and its totally masculine to have and experience the qualities of tenderness, closeness and softness. They are not always required to be “tough”, “rough” and “strong”. Men too have an emancipatory interest in their transformation. This issue of big threat to masculinity should not be treated as an elephant in a room and we should call it a day.


This issue of big threat to masculinity should not be treated as an elephant in a room and we should call it a day.


Apart from the societal angle there comes the legal provisions and their application and implications on men, there comes Article 14 of the Constitution of India which states that, “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.” But if we see the practical implication of this article there comes the reality check depicting that the society is far from withholding its virtue and there has always been a gap between people of the country based on these grounds. Also, “the State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them”, states Article 15 (1) of the Constitution of India. Here, specifically focussing on the biasness based on the ‘sex’ or ‘gender’ aspect, it is clearly evident that there have always been a disbalance between both genders where one is treated superior to another.


But the major areas of concern are the most commonly used weapon by the women in the form of Sections 498 A [Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty], 376 [Punishment for rape] of Indian Penal Code,1860 and Section 125 [Order for maintenance of wives, children and parents] of Criminal Procedure Code,1973. These sections give a glance of the women centric laws of the country and throughs light on the realm that whether men are the oppressors or sufferers. When talking about the above sections, the women are given every power from filing a case for dowry demand, harassment to maintenance from their male partner but why are men not given the same right if they are getting harassed by their feminine partner or her in-laws, if they are getting molested, if they are not financially sound enough to maintain themselves alike their female spouse. This prolonged cold shoulder response on the part of the authorities and functionalities of the legislature has led to building up of a trauma in the minds of the masculine population of the country. Apart from these, the now repealed section 497 [Adultery] was also gender biased as it only considered crime against men and not women even though both have sexual consummation with consent.


Not only India but there has been a surge in the number of people supporting the Men’s right all over the world. Various viral hashtags have been trending on the social media like: #boycottmarriage, #AblaNaariSyndrome, #मर्दअसुरक्षितहै, and #MensLivesMatter. One among the top Men’s Right Activists [MRAs] is the Supreme Court lawyer Ram Prakash Chugh who is leading the “Save Indian Familysocial media handle. This Non-Profit Organisation works on spreading the awareness regarding the men’s rights in the country majorly focusing on mental, physical and verbal domestic violence and have conducted various surveys which shows that how men have been the victim of the pro-feminist social norms and suffers from mental abuse and social stigma.


Also, the site of seeing the women of the country coming forward for men’s right so plausible like the filmmaker Deepika Narayan Bhardwajwho have been working on the various projects like the documentary Martyrs of Marriage targeting Section 498 A of IPC,1860.


Even the Highest Court of the country has taken such cases under its observation to raise the degrading position of the men in the society like in the case of Dr. N.G. Dastane v. S. Dastane[i], the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that although physical cruelty is presumed to be done mainly by the husband being the powerful but mental cruelty can be done by both husband and wife.


In the case of Rajesh Sharma and Ors. Vs. State of U.P. &Anr.[ii] it was observed that “Many of the complaints u/s 498 A are not bona fide. At the time of filing of the complaint, implications and consequences are not visualized. At times such complaints lead to uncalled for harassment not only to the accused but also to the complainant.”


Also, in one another case ofArnesh Kumar Vs. State of Bihar and Anr.[iii], the court said that “The fact that Section 498-A IPC is a cognizable and non-bailable offence has lent it a dubious place of pride amongst the provisions that are used as weapons rather than shield by disgruntled wives. The simplest way to harass is to get the husband and his relatives arrested under this provision. In a quite number of cases, bed- ridden grand-fathers and grand-mothers of the husbands, their sisters living abroad for decades are arrested.”


Some statistical data showing the situation of men being victim of domestic violence is as under:

Figure 1:


Source: The hidden side of Domestic Violence, 2013 - By Nupur Bhutani

Figure 2:


Source: The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence, 2013 - By Nupur Bhutani


The above statistics clearly shows that how in the year 2013, the men of the country have faced economic, physical, sexual, verbal and emotional abuse. Also, the fact that the society is not so considerate about men and their rights is quite evident from the reasons by the respondents for not reporting the cases (Figure 2).


It’s no longer like a situation when pigs fly and it’s the time to take more steps towards making some gender-neutral laws and to organise more awareness camps and initiatives for spreading awareness regarding men’s conditions in the society. Attempts are needed to make men more comfortable via providing them an amicable and above all an accepting environment in which they can share their problems and issues without the fear of being getting called as a cowardice and unmanly for expressing themselves.

[i] (AIR 1975) SC 1534 [ii] (2018) 10 SCC 472 [iii] (2014) 8 SCC 273

3 comments

3 Comments


Jagdish Sharma
Jagdish Sharma
Apr 03, 2023

well

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Sanskriti Kaura
Sanskriti Kaura
Apr 03, 2023

Amazingly expressed.. relatable & valuable article.. case laws, sections very well defined.. worth reading

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bhardwajankita1301
Apr 03, 2023
Replying to

Thank you so much ...!!!

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