Opinion: Does India need a law to protect men against the ‘misuse’ of the Domestic Violence Act?
There is a new twist to the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, with the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court Bench observing that it “suffers from inherent flaws which tempt women to misuse their provisions and men to dread being prosecuted under the law without any rhyme or reason.”
The bench called for a “neutral and unprejudiced law” to protect both men and women.
This is probably a genuine concern among menfolk who feel “victimised” by so many acts protecting women.There is an interesting anecdote about a married woman I know who bought herself diamond jewellery for her fifth wedding anniversary by blackmailing her husband that she would slap a case of domestic violence on him as they were within the “seven years of legal lock-in period”!
So the “violence “ can work both ways.
In the Indian marriage context, most post-marital relationships become a “habit” after a few years. We Indians (read mostly women) do not have the gumption to walk out of a loveless or abusive marriage/relationship, all in the name of children and society. In most cases, it is the women who desist from taking any drastic step, thanks to their financial handicap. They often go through this “emotional” violence to “keep peace”.
My apologies for digressing from the more serious issue of women misusing this act to spite their male relatives or spouses.
The question is despite so many laws protecting women, there are loopholes or legal necessities to prove the actual act of domestic violence. The onus of proof most often than not falls on women. Somewhere, the benefit of doubt must lie with women.
The “frivolous and false cases” that the court talks about may get some attention in the media or in social networking sites, but stops short of addressing the real issue.
What is the real issue?
Indian women are worshipped as well as whipped. The first sign of violence comes when the female foetus is destroyed by many families.
If the foetus survives, then little lady, welcome to the Indian patriarchal family! The girl grows up watching her mother being a victim of “domesticity”, and being used by patriarchy in the name of “family values”. Of course, these references are thankfully getting diluted in the urban context.
The more serious issues of ostentatious marriages and the subsequent fat bills that naturally falls on the lap of the bride’s father all amount to the “emotional and financial” violence. I am not going further about a woman leading her husband’s life after marriage because that will be a longer saga.
The High Court’s observation could have its pangs of truth. But what must be understood is the need to sensitise men about women, their emotions and most important, their safety. This cannot be seen in isolation.
As long as our society uses and abuses women, it is only a natural backlash for them to use the system to “get back” at menfolk.
Of course, my sympathies go out to the men who have been “victims” of manipulative women.
A powerful disinfectant like equal education opportunities that will eliminate the inherent gender bias will probably arrest this “temptation” among women to misuse the law.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of Folomojo.com
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