Friday, March 27, 2015

Gender Relations in India with Filmmaker Deepika Bhardwaj and Men's Rights Pioneer Anil Kumar

The details vary slightly but the one-sided, false-narrative of female-victim / male-villain in domestic violence is being told around the world in many different ways. Join us on March 31 at 10 AM EST (7:30 PM IST) to discuss how this narrative is playing out in India today.

Deepika Bhardwaj is a filmmaker in India whose current project, Martyrs of Marriage, explores the "legal terrorism" inflicted on men by section 498A of IPC, a law which
 presumes a husband is guilty when charged by his wife: "Any woman in India can file this section against her husband, his parents and relatives ... at any point of marriage (even after 22 years), get them arrested."

This law assumes that the husband is guilty as charged by his wife, and the courts can issue restraining orders as well financial and residential compensation without trial. Violation of these orders is a criminal offence, and the man must prove his innocence or go to jail. Furthermore, "a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India reviewed enforcement of Section 498A in 2014. The court found that the law was commonly misused and often resulted in unwarranted arrests." Nevertheless, the law remains unchanged and an increasing number of women are using this law to extort money from their husbands and his family.

More than 60,000 married men commit suicide every year in part due to the draconian nature of this law, and Bhardwaj recently spoke on this topic on Ted Talks. More information about her film, Martyrs of Marriage, can be found on her facebook page.

Anil Kumar is founder of India's first Men's Rights Research and Community Center in Bangalore, India. He has been invited by Indian Parliamentary Committees several times to speak about amendments to domestic violence and divorce laws, and he spoke at the 2014 International Conference on Men's Issues in Detroit, Michigan.

The distorted view, promoted by feminists, that domestic violence is a gendered crime in which victims are always female and villains are male has had many disturbing consequences that can no longer be ignored. Recently a man in India was accused of rape. A mob broke into the jail where he was held, dragged him into the street, and beat him death. A few days later police determined that he was innocent and that the sex was consensual.

Many people in the west believe that India is an example of an oppressive Patriarchal nation, and the media seems to feed this prejudice by focusing almost exclusively on incidents in which the victims are female, especially in so-called "honor" crimes like acid attacks (see Huffington Post). Most people are surprised to learn that an estimated 40% of acid attack victims are male (a recent female on male attack ignored by western media is also described here), and that many of the female victims are in fact attacked by other women as reported here and here, further confounding the statistics about this heinous crime! In another recent incident a woman accused her boyfriend of throwing acid on her. Further investigation revealed that the woman had thrown acid on herself and accused her boyfriend in order to punish him for cheating on her. But in the west we are only told that acid attacks and all domestic violence are crimes perpetrated by men against women.

None of these injustices can be ignored. Crimes against women have been given such an enormous priority globally that they not only take precedence over crimes against men, but they also cause us to ignore or minimize the destructive impact of crimes by women. Women and men are equally capable and equally guilty of horrendous acts. If we ignore one side, both sides will suffer as the anger, and resentment of injustice, fuels an escalating cycle of revenge.

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