Agle janam mohay “BETA” na kijo—Because men need empowerment too!
We have spent a lot of time discussing the rights of women, the need of laws to protect these rights and have had endless discussions on how to make these laws even more stringent. But we failed at making sure that the laws made for the protection of one gender doesn’t threaten or exploit the significant other. As a society we might have succeeded in bringing about stricter laws as far as violence against women is concerned and might have to a certain level succeeded in raising awareness about them but we have utterly and totally failed at ensuring that these very laws are not misused in any manner or against anyone. But not everyone has turned a blind eye to this misuse, there are people who had to suffer at the hands of our “andha kanoon” but they chose to stand up and help others so that nobody else has to meet the same fate. One such crusader is Rajesh Varkharia, who had to wage a lonely legal battle while he was falsely accused under the 498A of the Indian Penal Code which is the dowry harassment act. He along with three other accused whom he had met at the court started an NGO, Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF), in 2005 which provides legal assistance to those who are falsely accused of having demanded dowry. 15 years later, the NGO has over 50 chapters allover India and Varkharia claims that there is an addition of approximately 30 members per week. The misuse of this law has managed to garner attention. The statistics shows that almost 9% dowry cases are false, the number might seem small but those who suffer from this misuse cannot be ignored simply because they are men and women are accusing them. The Supreme Court has in it’s successive decisions sought to duthe the aspect of law which leads to immediate arrest of the husband and his family. The Supreme has directed the State government to tell the police official “to satisfy themselves about the necessity of arrest under the parameters provided under section 41 of Criminal Procedure Code”. Both the Law Commission and Justice Malimath committee has sought the law to be made compoundable and bailable. Men rights activists like Varkharia claim that the law is in no way the protector of women as it threatens the women belonging to the husband’s family. But the women rights activists retort by saying that every law is misused, it doesn’t mean that we take back all of them. I would like to end this by saying that we just don’t need passing of laws but “proper implementation” is the need of the hour. We as a society need to assure that nobody is made to suffer and that both men and women understand the laws. ——————– About the Author: This article is contributed by Uroosa Wani, our intern.