Call to end discrimination against men

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New Delhi, Nov 19 (UNI) While 'women's empowerment' is becoming an attractive political catchphrase, a group of organisations today mustered the audacity to claim that males in India are also being discriminated against in various spheres, including employment.

'Save Family Organisation'(SFO), an NGO, and its sibling organisations, while giving a call to observe November 19 as 'International Men's Day', quoted a report of the Labour and Employment Ministry to assert that during the years 2001-05, men employed in the public and private sectors lost 14,000 jobs while women gained 1,00,000 jobs during the same period.

''While an increasing number of men are losing employment, more women are entering the job market and defying their traditional roles within the family and society,'' it said in a statement.

In addition, men are being subjected to severe discrimination under law and their basic human rights are being violated everyday in the name of more and more legal provisions that claim to empower and protect women, it alleged.

The statement may sound ironical when viewed against the backdrop of the statement made by a Punjab minister yersterday that women can be bought at a price less than that of a buffalo.

While discrimination against women has been an obnoxious social reality of both the traditional India and the India on the upswing, 'Save Family Organisation' alleged that thousands of men are becoming victims of ''legal terrorism'' unleashed by the misuse of certain sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act, adultery laws and divorce, maintenance and child custody laws.

''To make things worse, male members of a family, regardless of their age, health or marital status, are arrested based on unsubstantiated allegations of dowry harassment and domestic abuse, and are subjected to long-drawn trials,'' SFO activist Wasif Ali said.

He claimed while men perform some of the most risky and challenging jobs in society and contributing 82 per cent of the government's tax revenue, ''not a single rupee has been allocated in the name of men's welfare in the country's budget in the last 60 years''.

While claiming that the growing disregard and hatred against men in Indian society is forcing many Indian men to end their lives, it quoted the statistics of the National Crime Bureau to contend that the number of suicides by males in every age group outweighed the number of those by females.

In the year 2005 alone, the NGO said nearly twice as many married men (52,483), comparted to married women (28,186) committed suicides, unable to withstand verbal, emotional, economic and physical abuse and legal harassment.

The SFO also demanded that the government should establish a ''Ministry of Men's Welfare' to cater to men's needs in the changing society and end the 'legal terrorism' perpetrated through the misuse of 'anti-male, anti-family laws.' Further, civil and criminal laws should be gender-neutral and Article 51A (e) of the Constitution be amended to read ''...to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women'' (and also men, as opposed to just women).

Another demand of the organisation is that custody of a child should be given jointly to both spouses upon dissolution of marriage and make provisions to punish those who abuse the judicial process, irrespective of gender.

UNI

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