“Gender Equality” a word turned movement that is flooded in the print and electronic media today. The world is talking about equality for multiple decades and is working day and night to make a world a more safe and sustainable place for girls and women. But go back a few words, ‘gender equality’ what does it actually mean? Men and women having the same say on everything is the main aim behind gender neutrality.
But in the race of making a world safe for women, aren’t we forgetting something? Can women truly be safe unless the counterpart is being victimized of being perpetrators? So, let’s talk about the forgotten gender ‘male’ and how important is it to have gender-neutral law.
Gender Neutrality: Biased Laws
The rising crime against women has made women safety one of the most discussed topics these days. Governments all around the globe are keep coming up with new laws and regulation; to protect women from any form of felonies.
Women safety issues in India in recent years have made the country an epicentre of crime against women. Most reported case of violence against women is of domestic violence, sexual assault and murder. Because of surging cases against women, Thomson Reuters Foundation voted India as the most dangerous country for women in 2018.
In the wake of security of its women from wrongdoers, the Indian government have made numerous laws and acts. But some staggering recent data are revealing the dark side of the coin. The laws aiming the protection of women are being more misused than used. The loophole in the laws enables ill-intentioned women to use these laws in their favour and victimize innocent men along with their family.
The biased victimizing laws in the Indian Penal Code
Indian Penal Code (IPC) is basically the ruling criminal code of the country which consist of all the data of criminal offences and liable punishment for the culprit. All the laws and punishments are decided by the countries highest court, the Supreme Court of India. With the wise intention of limiting crimes against women, the IPC have some loopholes and flaws that lead to the suffering of tens of thousands of men in the country. Let’s throw some light on a few of this provision:
Cruelty Against Women (Section 498A)
The patriarchal social culture of India has long subjected a huge number of vulnerable women to verbal, physical and mental harassment. In the wake of growing cruelty, the government came up with the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005. Section 498A of IPC talks about cruelty against women especially focusing on domestic violence against married women.
Under this section, if a married woman is inflicted upon by her spouse or husband’s relatives; the husband or the culprit shall be punished with fine and imprisonment that can extend up to three years. The imprisonment in this case is non-compoundable and non-bailable.
Introduced with a good intention, it has become one of the most misused section in the country. According to the National Crime Bureau statics of 2012 near about 2 million people including 47,951 women were taken into custody on basis of the unestablished allegations of dowry offence. Astonishingly only 15% of the accused were really found guilty of the crime.
Even though the husband family gets clearance from the crime at the end of the hearing that can go on for numerous years; but these charges are grave moreover the social and the economic repercussions the family have to go through, gives them a deep scar for a lifetime.
How these provisions are costing lives
One of the heart-wrenching cases which dictate how a few women are using the laws and provisions made for their security in the other way round is Syed Ahmed Makhdoom Suicide Case. Mr Syed’s wife has had an extra-marital affair; after a great discussion, the gentleman gave his wife two options; either she could get back to him and they will start over or the women can get divorced and move-on with her boyfriend.
But his wife alleged the husband and his family of domestic violence and dowry. The false allegations weighed so heavy that Mr Syed couldn’t bear it; the false allegations and separation from 9-year old son broke him and the 32-year old man committed suicide.
The above graph shows the suicide rate of married women and married men. In almost every year males have been committing double as suicide as married females. The staggering data shows the light on the hollow structure of society where men are seen less as victims and more as perpetrators.
Is it possible to achieve Gender-Neutrality?
The first stepping stone towards gender neutrality would be embracing the fact that men are also victimised. It is commonly misunderstood that gender-neutrality is anti-feminist, but the real truth is exactly the opposite. If laws made for the protection of women will keep on being misused at such a large extent, the laws and police might not support the victim when the real abuse happens. Therefore it is more important for women to stand against the misuse of provisions which aims to protect them.
The society is changing from pre-dominantly patriarchy to one where both the partners have equal say. Under these circumstances, the perception of the government and society have to change from always seeing men as wrong-doers to victims.