SOCIAL JUSTICE AND GENDER EQUALITY
Author: Sneha Nandi, V year, Law College Durgapur
Co-author: Pritam Ghosh, V year, Law College Durgapur
Gender Equality, if we interpret the words, it means equal treatment towards every gender. Justice should be done to all individuals irrespective of their gender, whether it is female, male or third gender. We often talk about gender equality for bringing equal rights to the women and there are groups and NGOs also who fights for the rights and welfare of women. In recent times several rights are given to the third gender which was not previously existed in our system. But what about men? Are they getting every right? This area needs some light. Though it is true that women need more protection as most of the time they are being harassed, raped, being murdered for dowry etc. and there are several laws to protect them. But men are suffering too. Many men are the victim of Domestic violence, many false cases are being made against men; especially for getting divorce and to claim maintenance, men are also being raped. There are no such laws to protect men. The laws of ours in some extents are gender biased we should say. There are beliefs like men can’t be a victim in such kinds of violence just because they are presumed to be stronger physically, another is only a female can be a rape victim and only a male can be rapist. In the world several cases are occurring but they are unreported by the media or other things due to these stereotypical beliefs. Article 14 of the constitution provides for equal protection of law. So, there should be laws to protect everybody and not to a particular gender. A law is made when there is a need of that in the society and it is the high time to make laws for men as well. Society needs to be aware of the fact that men are being victimized too.
“Injustice anywhere is threat to justice everywhere”
We often hear this quote. Especially at the times when any injustice takes place to a woman. It is very often that we see news of ‘rape’, ‘dowry death’, and ‘cases of domestic violence’ in newspapers. Thus, when we hear about any injustice, we create a picture in our mind that it is happening to a woman. Though our constitution guarantees the ‘equality before law’ under Article 14, whenever we talk about gender equality, the first thing that comes into our mind that women are being deprived of their rights, they are being tortured, raped etc. Maybe it is because of the phase ‘gender inequality’, which has been used for women only but the impact of it on men has not been addressed ever. There is a stereotypical belief that violence cannot be made to a man, as they are physically stronger than other genders. Generally, men who faces violence are ashamed of what will people say. There is a fear of being judged by people. And they don’t want to face legal consequences because of gender biasness. As most of the laws are in favor of women, they fear that they will lose the case. Often men don’t talk about violence in thinking of their family, their children. They think it will cause unnecessary nuisance to their family. But we really need to focus on the issues that violence against men is also happening though the number of it is still lower than the cases of women, but it is happening. Men are being harassed by false cases. False rape cases, misuse of section 498A of the Indian Penal Code etc. are so easy to send a man behind the bars. And the duration it takes to prove that he is not guilty, can ruin his entire life. So, we need gender neutral laws which will treat every gender equally.
False cases Against Men
A few years ago, voice raised saying ‘#Meetoo’ to protect women who are being harassed in work place, seeing the present condition how men are being harassed of false allegations brought against them. #Mentoo should also be started to protect the interest of the men.
It has been claimed that 51% of the suicides between men who are accused of sexual assault were due to false allegations brought against them. “In 2019 a protest was being held at The India Gate, New Delhi, demanding justice for men facing unsubstantiated accusation of sexual assault. The demonstrators referred the recent case involving The Chief Justice of India, plan to start a movement called #mentoo and also demanded that the identifying of the accused men be kept swaddle until all legal proceedings were concluded. In a case after 2 years the POCSO special court observes that the accused is not guilty of the rape charges brought against him, but the accused already spent 2 years in jail. This is how men are being harassed and judged. Just because laws against rape protect the interest of women, it does not mean men can be harassed easily. A 47- year- old uncle of a 16 years old girl was acquitted on charges of raping her and getting her pregnant, the court observes that the victim’s conduct cannot be relied on. The girl named her uncle after a failed abortion left her bleeding. After 2 years the court finds that there is a boy who is very close to the girl and has also helped girl to have abortion pills and they have hidden their 'Love Relationship'. The court while acquitting the accused stated that there was excessive delay in lodging First Information Report and the reason given has not been explained properly. The evidences presented before the court was not appropriate and considerable.
On 22nd August 2021 Delhi High Court expresses worry over ' alarming increase' of false rape cases. Justice SubramanianPrasad made the observation while rejecting a plea seeking to quash a First Information Report for offence of rape, in which the parties pleaded that they had easily settled the matter and entered into a compromise. The court also pointed out that the parties had registered cross- cases against each other for offences under section 376(rape) of the Indian Penal Code at the AmanVihar police station, Delhi. In this present case it seems that both the party has filed cases among each other without having sensitivity to the offences of rape and also says that cases of rape should not be reported as false to settle personal anger.
False rape allegation has the potential to damage the career and life of the accused. The accused in a false rape case losses his prestige and cannot face his family and is condemned for life. Undoubtedly women face pain of abuse but now a days men are also not very far away in getting victimized against false Cases of dowry. Many a times it has been found that for settling private greed between the spouse, false cases of dowry have been filed where the groom and the family of the groom is being tortured and being harassed. For prevention of dowry government has introduced an act named The Dowry Prohibition Act 1961, section 3 of such act provides penalty for giving and taking of dowry, meanwhile many people are misusing the section of such act where any property or stridhan given in mutual consent during marriage to the bridegroom as a gift by the bride’s family. After some months or years due to some greediness the bride or the family of the bride files a false complain just to harass the groom’s family. Saying such property has been acquired as dowry by the groom’s family.
In the case of Rajender Bhardwaj vs Mrs. Anita Sharma (Delhi High Court 1992)
The fact of the case was that there was a question to the context that the allegations brought against the husband by his wife was that Rupees 35000/- was demanded for construction and Rupees 9000/- for scooter are true or false? They were found false by the court. In this case it was also found that the sister and mother of the men were also being harassed and accused for false dowry case. Thus, they are the examples how men are being tortured, just to settle personal greed this type of false cases are being filed. On the 1st April 1990 a couple got married and started to stay together, everything going in their life was very good after 5-6 months of their marriage the wife started quarrelling and threatening the husband and mother-in- law, seeing this the husband rented a separate property, but still the wife’s difference in opinion didn’t stop. After some days the wife was found to have interest in the property of the in-laws and wanted to sell it and get the portion of money from the sale. For settling her greed, she filed a false dowry and harassment case and till the court acquainted the husband and the mother- in- law they were being harassed.
Domestic Violence: The punishment for domestic violence only given to men and their family. As there is a stereotypical belief that as men are physically more powerful than women, violence can't be made to them. But the study shows 52.4% men among 1000 married men in Haryana, between the age group of 21- 49, face gender- based violence in the hands of their wives or intimate partners. The definition of domestic violence includes both physical and mental violence. According to the study 3.4% - 20.3% male is victim of physical violence and 10.6%- 40% is victim of some other sorts of violence. But there are no punishments for violence against men, that means no protections are provided to men to protect them from violence.
Section 498 A was inserted in the IPC with a view to provide a shield to women from cruelty and harassment in marital relationship. Now a days we can see the increasing number of false domestic violence cases. As section 498 A of the Indian Penal Code is a ground for claiming divorce and alimony, several false cases are being filed to get divorce easily. And the allegation under section 498A is so serious that it is too easy to put a man behind the bars. An allegation under this section can ruin a man’s whole life.
Anju vs. Government of NCT of Delhi
A wife challenged the lower courts order in Bombay High Court, where the husband got discharged from the charges under section 498 A of IPC against him. The Bombay High Court by observing that no time, date, places, month or year are mentioned, when she was subjected to be tortured. It concluded that the order of the lower court has not made any mistake, as it noted the allegations against the respondent were fairly general, untrue, and unspecific.
The act of rape is thought to be a crime towards women. According to the definition of ‘rape’ in India rape is an act of penile penetration, or any other object without the consent of a woman under section 375 of Indian Penal Code. But some males are rape victim too. They are being raped too. 1 in 6 men are being suffered from sexual abuse and assault. In India there is no cases reported. 1in 71 men are being raped in United States.
Few days back, in Pakistan a male rape case came in frontline. Where a 14- year boy, named Jamal was raped and murdered by Nasir. It was reported by a non- governmental organization WAR (War Against Rape). This is just an instance. Similar kinds of thing are happening worldwide.
Stalking is another type of violence the definition of which under IPC states it is a crime against woman only under section 354D (1). But stalking happens against male also. According to National Statistics Domestic Violence 43.5% men are being stalked by their intimate partner.
Injustice towards men: In India, the laws protect a woman more as the rate of crime against women are greater in number. And it is the need of the society for the safety of women. But the rights given to protect a woman, they are often misused. An accused is innocent until proven guilty. Is it really true? The answer is no. When any incident arises between a man and a woman. Before knowing the fact of the case, the society assumes that the man is guilty and the woman is victim.
Sarvjeet Singh Case
In 2015, Sarvjeet Singh was accused of harassing a lady, named Jasleen Kaur. She clicked some pictures of him, when she was asked why she is taking pictures. She replied that police will be at his residence. After that Jasleen took her social media account to raise the issue in public and stated she was harassed by Sarvjeet Singh Bedi. A rush has been created. Some news channels started to name him as ‘Delhi’s Pervert’. A case was filed against him under section 354A and 502 of Indian Penal Code. He lost his Job. His life was ruined just by one post by Jasleen Kaur. During the trial Jasleen was absent in 14 hearings, that is duration of 3 years. Later some videos of the actual incidents were posted by the witnesses, who were present at the spot. And Sarvjeet Singh Bedi has proved innocent in 2018.
By this incident we can see that, it is so easy to ruin a man’s life by false allegations like this. There are several cases of women misusing the protections given to them by law, which are happening on a daily basis but are unreported. This is not gender equality rather it is injustice to a particular gender.
Worldwide rates of violence against men
Not only in India, this is the scenario of the entire world. According to American Journal of Emergency Medicine, the cases of domestic violence has increased globally by 22% to 30% at the time of covid-19 pandemic. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports 1 in 9 men experience violence by their intimate partners in United States. The National Statistics Domestic Violence states 1 in 4 men experience physical abuse by their wives or intimate partners. And 1 in every 71 men in United states are being raped. So, the cases of violence against men are not zero. Though it is not same as the number of women, it is there and men are facing it too.
1. False Rape cases- When A rape case is being found by a court as false, courts may take Suo - moto steps to punish such person bringing the false allegations. false rape allegations have potential to destroy a man's mental as well as social conditions. And there should also be a checks and balances under section 376 of Indian penal code 1860 where people should be aware that filling this case just to for some personal grave is not cool. It may destroy the life of the man against whom such false allegations have been brought.
2. Men are also being harassed by women, many a times it has been recorded that to settle personal grave, men are being harassed awarding with blackmail and cases registered under section 498a of the Indian penal code 1860, courts may take Suo – moto steps to protect the interest of the men against whom such false cases have been Registered. Which will aware and help in prevention of cases which are being filled falsely to harass men.
3. As section 375 of the Indian penal code 1860 says a rape can only be committed to women by men in different ways as said in the act. There is no scope for adult male victim. Men are also being raped and abused. The rape laws should also be made for men to protect the interest of the men. Men should also be aware and without hiding move ahead to file a complaint and society also shall accept these things normally.
4. Section 354D of the Indian penal code 1860 says stalking done by men is punishable but there is no scope for the victim males who are being stalked and harassed like the women are, neither there is any legislation which can safeguard and protect the interest of men.
5. As we know the Government has introduced an Act named, Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, to prevent taking and giving of dowry, but the number of false cases is increasing day by day. Men and their families are suffering for false allegations against them. So, there should be some provisions to protect them against the malicious intentions. This may help in decreasing the number of such cases.
6. Sections such as 375, 354A, 354D, 498A of the Indian Penal Code 1860 and the provisions of Dowry Prohibition Act are very sensitive in nature. False cases registered under these sections has potential to finish the entire life of a person. Thus, when such allegations are proven to be false the court should take Suo- moto cognizance to punish such person, who made those false allegations. This will promote awareness that just to satisfy personal greed these cases cannot be filed.
Now a day in this modern era, there is no difference between men and women lifestyles. Previously men used to protect their families but now both are equal both have equal capability to work and they equally manage family. Thus, if a woman can come so far from a position where they were not allowed to do many things, why not men can open up about them? Only if they can open up about that they are suffering too, the society will be aware of the fact and will accept it. The struggles of men should be focused. Laws are needed for the protection of men against this malice intentions. And the Judiciary is the only hope, who can put lights on these matters. So that the legislature put some attention on making laws for the protection of men.
The Constitution provides equality before law but there is no such provision or acts which will safeguard the interest of the men. But we all can hope that looking at the present condition the legislature may take several steps to protect the interest of the men too.
#MenToo: Protect men against false allegations, say Delhi protesters | Delhi News - Times of India (indiatimes.com) last retrieved at 04.00pm 18.02.2022 A Cross-sectional Study of Gender-Based Violence against Men in the Rural Area of Haryana, India (nih.gov) Statistics (ncadv.org) Statistics (ncadv.org)