WOMEN ORIENTED LAWS: A SHIELD OR A WEAPON?
Author: Rimjhim Pandey, III year of B.B.A LL.B from BVDU, New Law College Pune
“Men are from Earth, women are from Earth. Deal with it.”
- George Carlin
It is rightly said that sometimes the remedies are worse than perils or disease. In this world where women are considered as the idol of love, sacrifice, courage, and strength some women are tarnishing this image. We know that women are subjected to numerous cruel crimes, so there should be a speedy redressal of grievances, but at the same time we are also aware of the fact that special laws have been enacted to protect women, but these laws are highly abused. And there should be harsh punishment for women who misuse these laws. Crime against men is rarely reported and discussed in India.
GENDER-BASED LAWS: DOUBLE-EDGED WEAPONS
We know that gender-based laws are like double-edged weapons. Most of the laws have been made by the Indian legislature to safeguard the rights of women but do we have any laws that safeguard men’s rights if they have been falsely accused. NO, because we believe that the perpetrators are always the men, and they cannot be the victim.
In India, various laws have been made for the protection of women and to safeguard their rights, security, and dignity. This can be seen from women-centric laws particularly from (i) Section 4 of the dowry protection Act (ii) Section 498 A of the Indian Penal Code (iii) Enactment Of the sexual harassment of women at workplace (prevention, prohibition, and redressal) Act, 2013, and changes in different laws.
But unfortunately, the provisions which were passed by the legislatures to provide a shield and safety to women against the perpetrators, have been misused by some women who use their gender as a weapon and adversely affecting the bona fide complaints. It can be seen that gender-based laws are like double-edged weapons. This is the time to review and change the laws that give countless privileges to one gender of society.
LAW MUST BE GENDER NEUTRAL
Law and justice are two different things. The time has come when we need to recognise that not every time the perpetrator will be the man. Both the male and female can be the victim of any crime (domestic violence, abuse, rape, forced sexual intercourse, etc.). Instead of focusing on one gender, the laws must give justice to the victims irrespective of their gender. Sadly, our legislation has failed to recognize that men can also be the victim of sexual violence, abuse, assault, etc. The very section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, states that “A man is said to commit rape” …. This means that if rape has been done, the victim will be the women, and the perpetrator will always be the men. There are no provisions of rape or sexual assault against men in our legal system. Other sections of IPC such as 354A (punishment for sexual harassment), 354B(assault or use of criminal force to women), 354C (Voyeurism) and 354D (stalking), portray women as the victim and men as the culprits.
WHY ARE MEN SILENT?
It is a misconception that males are the offenders and females are victims repeatedly, which needs to be terminated. Men are considered to be the strongest gender in society. Males try to conceal the facts regarding the crimes against them (rape, abuse, domestic violence etc.) because society is not ready to accept that men can also be a victim. In our Indian society, it is shameful when a male child cries because they consider male as being able to protect themselves from any evil. They cannot be the victim of any crime. It is very hard for society to digest that a man is abused. How can that be? He is physically stronger than the woman or anyone else.
Male victims suffer from physical as well as psychological traumas just like the woman. They may suffer from guilt, fear, anger, anxiety, sadness, suicidal attempts, insomnia, helplessness, self-blame, depression, hopelessness, numbness and sexual dysfunction. In the patriarchal society, the mindset of the people is that the victim is always a lady and the perpetrator will be the man forever and this mindset needs to be changed and people should start accepting male victims and empathise with them, support them so that even male victims can come forward and speak about this social evil.
MISUSE OF LAWS BY WOMEN
Delhi court said, “time has come for courts to deal firmly with women who file false rape complaints as they are the tormentors warranting punishment.”
Over the past few years, there has been a huge rise in the number of false cases against men under section 498A of the IPC. The statistics show 10,193 false cases in 2011, 10,235 in 2012 and 10,864 in the year 2013. The total number of fake cases filed by women on the ground of cruelty by husband and in-laws were 31,292 stated by the minister of state for home affairs in the Lok Sabha in March 2015.
In the case of Savitri Devi V. Ramesh Chandra & Ors. The Hon’ble Court specifically regulates the abuse connected with the manipulation of the laws to such an extent that it was totally influenced by the influence of marriage itself and thus found not to be intelligent for the welfare of the giant community. The court considered that authorities and lawmakers had to review the case and the legal provisions to prevent it from happening.
A total number of 1,207 cases filed under section 509 of the IPC were found false. According to one of the reports of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), it was found that a huge number of cases have been registered under the Protection Of Women Against Domestic Violence Act, 2005 in the year 2012, 2013 and 2014. Out of every 100,000 investigated cases, it was found that nearly 10,000 complaints of dowry harassment were bogus. The Supreme Court has said that Section 498A has a "dubious place of pride amongst the provisions that are used as a weapon rather than a shield".
Recently in Hyderabad, a girl has falsely accused an autorickshaw driver of rape and abduction just because she had some grudges with him. The Allahabad High Court has acquitted a person who was charged under false allegations of rape and provisions of the SC/ST Act. He was acquitted after spending 20-years in prison. Now the question is who is going to take responsibility for his misery? Can we just move on by showing sympathy to him? On these questions, we would like to be numbed because this terrible event did not happen to us.
CONCLUSION AND SUGGESTION
It can be seen from the above instances that women-centric laws are highly misused and used as a weapon instead of a shield. Upliftment and empowerment of women do not mean degrading the values of men. It is not correct to overlook one section of society for the sake of the upliftment of others. Men are known to be powerful, strong, and challenging, this does not mean that they cannot be the victim of any violence, abuse, or crime. Physical strength should not be any criteria to judge people.
It is not true that the perpetrators are always men. This is the time to bring laws that are gender-neutral and not male or female-oriented. There is a need for the right way of execution of laws and an impartial criminal justice system. Everyone should be punished for harassment, be it, anyone. The role of gender must not be interrupted. Men need to break their silence and speak up about crimes against them. Anyone who is subjected to any crime or humiliation must have protection from the laws irrespective of their gender. The toxic mentality of society against men needs to be changed, the sooner this happens, the better it will be for society.
Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860: A man is said to commit “rape” if he—
1. penetrates his penis, to any extent, into the vagina, mouth, urethra or anus of a woman or makes her do so with him or any other person; or
2. inserts, to any extent, any object, or a part of the body, not being the penis, into the vagina, the urethra or anus of a woman or makes her do so with him or any other person; or
3. manipulates any part of the body of a woman to cause penetration into the vagina, urethra, anus, or any part of the body of such woman or makes her do so with him or any other person; or
4. applies his mouth to the vagina, anus, urethra of a woman or makes her do so with him or any other person, under the circumstances falling under any of the following seven descriptions1:
1. Against her will.
2. Without her consent.
3. With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested, in fear of death or of hurt.
4. With her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married.
5. With her consent when, at the time of giving such consent, because of unsoundness of mind or intoxication or the administration by him personally or through another of any stupefying or unwholesome Substance, she is unable to understand the nature and consequences of that to which she gives consent.
6. With or without her consent, when she is under eighteen years of age.
7. When she is unable to communicate consent.
2003 CriLJ 2759
Sec 509 of IPC: Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman.—Whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any word, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen, by such woman, or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
Sec 498 A of IPC: Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty. —Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.
Supra Note no. 3.