CHENNAI: Its not just Mulayam Singh and Lalu Prasad Yadav who are vehemently opposing the women’s reservation bill. In Chennai, women who believe they have a cause to celebrate this Women’s Day as the country comes close to pass the bill instead have to contend with men protesting against it in the name of discrimination against men. On Monday, over 200 members of the Association for Protection of Men, Tamil Nadu’ gathered outside the Memorial Hall to protest against the proposed Constitution amendment.
“This is a mere political gimmick to garner votes and does not really benefit women,” said D Arulthumilan, the association’s president. “Instead it adds to the difficulties of men who are already undergoing misery due to false cases filed under the Domestic Violence Act.”
“Only women who are already empowered will avail of this benefit, whereas the ones who truly need emancipation will continue to struggle,” he added. “But this bill will help pass several other laws of which many women may take undue advantage,” he said. Instead, he suggested that the bill could be amended to make political parties provide a 33% quota for women among the candidates fielded by them.
Suresh Ram, another men’s rights’ activist said women were exempt from punishment despite committing domestic violence. “Surveys have shown that a fair percentage of men endure domestic violence regularly,” he said. “Yet the Domestic Violence Act is gender-biased and leaves no room for women to also be penalised for domestic violence.” In the case of adultery, too, women could not be prosecuted, he said.
Formed in 2007, the TN association has 3,000 members in the state, and offers counselling and legal help to men who say they are wrongly accused of domestic violence.
Shakeel Akthar, Additional Comissioner of Police, Law & Order, however, says false cases registered against men are few and far between. “I have not come across any false cases registered against men under the Domestic Violence Act or any related form of misuse in recent years,” he said. “In fact, things have been progressing well ever since this act was passed.”
Concurring with him, V Geetha, a women’s activist feels that there is no merit to the action of this association. “This is a mere sour grapes reaction,” she said. “They are trying to provoke people and as such must not be taken seriously.”
Geetha Ramaseshan, an activist and a lawyer feels that a protest against the Bill is irrelevant and unnecesaary. “This Bill is long overdue and will give women a much needed entry into politics as it is their right,” she said. “Any misuse of laws may be dealt with using the proper channels and this should not be cited as a reason not to pass this Bill.”