Women in India had equal status in society; they were respected by everyone at the utmost level. But their decline started during the Islamic invasion and the Mughal empire period. After that their condition kept on worsening day by day from where it was impossible to come back. However, many reforms were brought by the various kings and banned the evil traditions which suppressed women like johar, sati pratha, child marriage, etc. in modern times. In British time many reformers too came forward for the betterment of women. Reformers like Rammohan Roy spread western education so he could bring equality for women. In making the constitution, due care was taken for everyone’s rights and liberty so a uniform society could come into existence. Society surely needed laws for women’s protection which will work as a shield to the evil traditions. Laws were formulated and also came into effect and which are protected by the court but during the ongoing time, it is noticed that the rights made for their protection are misused by them only for the mala fide intention to fraudulently defaming a person to lower his dignity. But was this the motive of the women’s protection laws? The answer is definitely a NO. I don't say all women are misusing and the laws should be taken from them but every law should have a limitation so much freedom to anyone would surely lead to its destruction someday and same is happening in the society now their protection is bringing injustice. women now have acquired excessive freedom from women-centric legislation. whose consequences are now faced by the men. These laws were formulated with a bona fide intention but now the situation is just going opposite of what was expected.
NEED FOR WOMEN PROTECTION LAWS?
From ancient times, it was a norm that men would go to work and run the household by bringing money and women had to stay at home raising the kids, do the household chores, etc. women never had access to education, had no say in the family or societal matters, and didn’t even have a choice to choose his partner herself her parents select the groom and she has to go in wedlock with him. Altogether, the role of women in society was to make sure that she was obedient wives and caring mothers. They never had an individuality of their own. Women had to fight for a long time just to acquire the basic right of voting. They were given this right in 1918. There also discrimination existed the voting age for men was 18 years, it was 21 years for women. This kind of situation was rampant in those times. Women finally started to work in the 19th century, but then also women had to face hardships she worked the same as men but never got equal wages for work.
India is a patriarchal country where it is called a male dominating society. This was said to be the foundation stone of women’s abuse. Domestic violence was prevalent from time immemorial that also affected society badly. The main reasons behind the violence were the stereotyping of gender and the distribution of power mainly. So there was a need to have laws by which women could be protected. Many reformers came forward to throw light on the atrocities which took a boost in the middle of the 20th century. where laws were formulated for women's protection some of which are the special marriage act, dowry prohibition act, Indian divorce act, and so on. Before the enactment of these protection laws, the case was dealt with under cruelty. This enactment gave them assurance and aimed to protect them from the violence they face. But now the position is changing. As time is passing it has been noticed now that women have started to misuse their rights and men are becoming the victim of this empowering women. India always hauled about the discrimination faced by women but never looked upon how women are now falsely accusing men for their benefit or some grudges. Indian humanity has a very narrow mindset like the boys are always grown-up saying that you can’t cry because that makes them look weak but women are termed okay with it. If a girl is raped then the survivor is given due attention but if a man says he has been raped it is just taken as a joke it is assumed that women can’t rape men. These attitudes should be changed now because equality means bringing stability in society and not suppressing a particular gender at the stake of protection. Why is this thought in our society that a man can not be a victim? Indian laws do not even properly recognize remedies for violence faced men. It has also been seen that men don't even want to disclose the fact of being threatened or reporting about the violence they are facing. Just because society laughs at him as this is a shameful thing according to the Indian mentality. The men also fear that having a divorce from the wife or his in-laws will threaten them. Because of not receiving any support system he starts to live under stress and accept the fact and lives accordingly. Some data also show that men commit suicide because of the mental trauma they go through because of the false allegation placed on them which hampers their reputation in society. The main protection laws used as a weapon by women are section 498-A, 376 of IPC,1860, and section 125 of CR.P.C,1973. This legislation has turned out to be backfired where now women are themselves humiliating men to satisfy their ego. Why is this rule that only women can have the child till 5 years of age, why women do not have to give proof of their innocence why are only the men always giving evidence of their innocence, if a man is stuck in an abusive relationship there is no way out because they do not have any specific regulation for this. The legislature needs to see the loopholes in the laws and the judiciary needs to interpret the laws according to the ongoing situation and should throw some light on how men are also harassed.
HAS SECTION 498- A, 125, 375 BEEN MISUSED?
Section 498 -A Before 1983 all women's cases were dealt under hurt, assault, and cruelty, etc. in 1983 amendment was brought in the Indian penal code and it inserted 498A section for “marital cruelty and dowry women harassment’’ which says any cruelty faced by women than the man and his relatives will be responsible to face the consequences of 3-year incarceration. But women now started to misuse it with a mala fide intention to harass husband and his family. This law was formulated to maintain dignity and protect women but now it is being used as a weapon by many women. This is the most misused law by women and because of this many innocent families are victimized but then also there are no necessary steps taken. There have been many cases seen currently where ample cases are registered false just with an intention to extort money from the husband’s family. A report presented by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) 4,66,079 cases, 7,258 got convicted and 38,165 were acquitted and 8,218 were withdrawn. According to a survey done by Fight Against Misuse of Dowry, it was mentioned that 98% of the cases are falsely reported under section 498-A. Because of this the supreme court gave the order and made changes so that now full investigation should be conducted first then arrest will take place this will lessen the harassment and innocent people will not face unnecessary consequences.
Section 125 Criminal Procedure Code under this section it is mentioned that the husband is liable to maintain his wife and children and parents who are not able to take care of themselves. This section talks about men maintaining the wife but nowhere it is mentioned that even if men are not capable then the wife needs to take care of them. Many a time men also need maintenance but no relevant provision is mentioned anywhere. Because of these laws which are focused on women now greedy women falsely accuse men and ask them for maintenance even if they are capable and are earning a good sum they tend to hide their earnings just to harass the husband. And because of the provision mentioned in Hindu law if men deny to give maintenance or are not capable of giving maintenance the recovery is done from their property. These laws have many loopholes which need to be fixed with time otherwise discrimination will continue. Whether it be with men or women.
Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code was formed to protect women from rape. According to the Indian Penal Code meaning of Rape is if a man without the consent of woman establishes a sexual intercourse with her. which signifies that a man can’t be a rape victim. The law also doesn't talk about a male having forcefully established sexual relations with another male then also there is no punishment. This section was made for women so they could get justice and can live in a secure place to establish an egalitarian society. A famous saying also completely defines this section “A man is guilty until proven innocent, a woman is innocent until proven guilty” this law was made to protect women but now the transformation is seen where now these laws are not shielded but are used as a weapon against men’s reputation and dignity. They now have started to use them maliciously to receive their deceptive objectives. The problem which is arising is how to prove whether the main component consent was given or not which women take advantage of because firstly they give consent then to take revenge or humiliate men who accuse them is a false case. The conviction rate in India is 32% which shows that probably many cases are reported false but no one wants to have a look at it. women are just using these laws to settle their scores. One of the famous cases was reported in 2013, the Bhatinda Rape Case where a 24- year- old woman narrated a story of having been kidnapped from Chandigarh and gang-raped in a moving car turned out to be a false atlas.
Various legislations protect the rights of females but very few support men. Most of the cases of divorce are dealt with under the Domestic Violence Act Section 498-A of IPC. which are false allegations at times by which men lose their career and everything. A new trend of females marrying multiple times just to get the property and maintenance from their rich husbands has also been found. Men have been victims for a very long time but this topic never came into the light. But as the belief that man can be perpetrators but can't be victims, no one trusts if a man wants to raise a voice against it. As per the statistics studied it could be figured out that there is no actual data available on this topic as it was never a matter of concern for anyone. but a study was done by st. xaviers college shows that 58.95% of men are threatened by laws for protecting women and 73% showed the need of having development in cells for men. The report also shows that more than 66% of respondents say that women are misusing their protection laws against men. Another study by save family foundation survey about 1,650 husband’s between the age group of 15 to 45 years reflected that about 32.8% of man face economical violence, 22.2% face emotional balance, 25.2%, face physical violence and 17.7% of them face sexual violence .it is also seen by A Delhi Commission of Women report shows that 53. Also, 2% of the rape cases entered between April 2013 and July 2014 in the capital were found ‘false. According to research, it is seen that women face discrimination in only 43 countries whereas men have to face hardships in 91 countries out of 134. The countries like UAE (rank45), Australia (rank-49), US (rank-61) discriminate against men and china (rank-8), Italy (rank-1) discriminate against women according to the basic index of gender inequality score (BIGI) report. It is also examined that developed countries are prone to develop equality and gender inequality, which is more significant in less developed countries.
An infringement of these sections has increased in society. The maltreatment of this segment is quickly expanding and the ladies frequently knowledgeable realize that this segment is both cognizable and non-bailable and unrehearsed deals with the grievance of the lady and setting the man behind the bars.
1. Arnesh Kumar v. the State of Bihar
The wife alleged that the husband’s family asked for dowry but on nonfulfillment of it they harassed her. The husband applied for anticipatory bail which failed. Then by special leave petition, the husband appealed to the Supreme Court.
Judgment - In this case, the Court observed that the fact that Section 498A, IPC is used as a weapon rather than a shield by disheartened wives. And it helps them to take revenge by making them arrest in such cases and it is more painful to grandfathers and grandmothers being arrested without a prima facie case. “The court in this case laid down certain guidelines which the police officer must follow while arresting under Section 498A, IPC, or Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 and that such detention must be based on a fair satisfaction with respect to genuineness of the allegation.”
2. MAJOR SINGH & ANR.VS. SARBAJIT KAUR
The wife in this case falsely accused her husband of domestic violence charge because she had an extramarital affair and planned to threaten her husband. After that, the husband filed for divorce.
Judgment - Punjab and Haryana court gave the judgment by saying that the law protection of women from domestic violence act is being misused and named the case to ‘‘legal terrorism’’ and the husband was guaranteed divorce in this case.
3. Dr. N.G.Dastane Vs. Dastane
SC 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. Even a wife can do mental cruelty to the husband.
4. Rajesh Sharma & others v State of Bihar
The court in the case laid down certain directions to prevent the misuse of Section 498-A of IPC. Directions were also given to set up a Family Welfare Committee in each district by District Legal Services Authority and to have a look into the cases of domestic violence reported for a month before making any arrest. The Committee would comprise para legal volunteers, social workers, retired persons who should be given basic training for doing the task.
5. Sushil Kumar Sharma vs. Union of India,
In this case, his wife falsely accused his family and relatives of harassing them. The Supreme court in this case observed that such provisions are intended to be used as a shield and not an assassin's weapon. The Court and the Legislature have to make certain changes in matrimonial cruelty laws.
Misuse of Section 498A, 125, 376 is not a fabrication it is proved now, the woman is accusing a false charge under these provisions and threatens her husband under the decree. Man does not have a way out from this mud. As a man doesn’t have proper laws for their protection. And man has to face difficulties to prove himself innocent. Being a man doesn’t mean he did wrong and he needs to bear all the expenses and pay maintenance without being at fault. These sections are now just used as a weapon to collect some from the husband’s family. Which is very unhealthy for our society. Our court work on the guiding principle “let a hundred guilty be acquitted, but one innocent should not be convicted”. Then why our legislature is not focusing on the ongoing situation. Society needs to have an environment where men can openly report the cases without the fear of being ridiculed. The main step would be replacing the women-centric laws with gender-neutral laws that will surely bring change in the reporting cases. And gender neutrality is never against feminism, it is in favor of building a neutral and equal society for everyone.
Name - Nancy Shonak
College - University Institute of Law and Management Studies, Gurgaon (BA.LLB 2nd Year)
Batch - May