Bengaluru, Feb 26: Section 498 A of the Indian Penal Code relating to dowry is a law that was introduced as a safeguard for women. Today that law has turned draconian in nature and we hear tales of it being misused by several women who use it as a tool to extract more money out of men in divorce proceedings which has earned several men the tag of an ATM machine.
Not just Section 498 A, but a divorce proceeding more or less tends to favour the women and issues such as visitation rights and harassing the parents of men have all been subject matters of debate. Men's Rights Activists have taken to the streets several times, but successive governments have not even looked into the issue, leave alone amending the law.
Virag Dhulia is a leading men's rights activist and has been very vocal about the draconian laws that favour women blindly without even taking into account the facts of the case. In this interview with oneindia, Dhulia who is organizing a hunger strike says that the patriarchal judiciary believes that men cannot take care of kids and thus treats fathers only as ATM machines.
Could you tell us more about the hunger strike being organized?
We have sent a memorandum to the Governor of Karnataka raising issue about the insensitivity and callousness of judges in family court in visitation matters.
Petitions are lying pending without hearing for years together. The patriarchal judiciary believes that men cannot take care of kids and thus treats fathers only as ATM machines. We have asked the Governor to ensure fathers get visitation by March 2nd. If our demands are not met, we will sit in hunger strike on March 7th and 8th at Freedom Park, Bangalore.
How many people are expected to be part of the event?
We are expecting more than 100 people to take part in the event. At least 10-12 fathers and grandparents would sit in hunger strike and about 100+ people will support them in the initiative morally and psychologically.
How much progress has been made in the efforts by men's rights groups to reduce false dowry cases?
Men's Rights and Men's Issues are not limited to false dowry cases. Our main concern is male hatred in the society and socially accepted discrimination against men. As far as Section 498A is concerned, there is good amount of awareness about its misuse and therefore police is resorting to other sections just to arrest innocent.
Now, a new form of misuse of Section 307 (attempt to murder) and 377 (unnatural sex) is coming up. These serious sections are being added mechanically without investigation and then men are extorted in the name of bail. Also, there is misinterpretation of Supreme court judgment and mediation proceedings are used to extort money from men or they are made to run in mediations for 5-6 months thus jeopardizing their job situation.
How responsive has the new government been on the issue of IPC 498A?
We would say the response has been lukewarm. Misuse of 498A is a well known thing in the society. Still this government has made no attempts to make it bailable and non-cognizable. We expect this law to be made atleast bailable and non-cognizable if not scrapped.
Can 498 A (laws relating to dowry) be done away with completely?
498A is a totally bogus and unconstitutional law. It does not provide any relief which is not already provided under any other section of the IPC. The only facility that 498A provides is of "Arrest on Demand". Hence, to protect the constitutional right to life and liberty of innocent men, 498A should be done away with completely.
Has the perception of the judiciary changed on dowry cases?
Judiciary is formed of patriarchal men. Patriarchal men think men shouldn't cry and no woman can ever harass a man. Also, they think men should only bear the financial burden in a marriage/relationship.
With this mindset, it becomes very difficult for a man with the judiciary when he undergoes abuse and torture from a woman. It is a reflection of social mindset. Till the time society does not change its mindset, judiciary would also remain the same.
How long according to you will men continue to be free ATM machines?
As long as men continue to be protectors of society, culture and religion, their abuse will continue. Men must think of living a life for themselves. "Me-First" is the principle men need to follow. Unless men stand up and speak up for their rights, they will be continued to be treated as ATM Machines. Problem is of men, they need to speak up.
They must join organizations like Save Indian Family Foundation and Confidare which are working for them.