Harassed husbands and belligerent brides

George Mathew’s married life was shattered on the very first night of his wedding when he found that the bride had locked herself up in their bedroom. All his attempts to get her to open the door failed. When this continued for several days, Mathew, a small businessman at Kochi, brought in the police and got the door opened. The woman was promptly returned to her house.

But that was just the beginning of his troubles. Mathew has since been facing a slew of litigation. His attempts to extricate himself from the cobwebs through a compromise has brought in the demand for a hefty amount from the bride’s side. The battle has been continuing for the last eight years without the authorities showing any sympathy to the man.

George Mathew is one of several men who have been at the receiving end in such matters. These harried husbands are now making a beeline to the Kerala Purusha Peedana Parihara Vedi (Men’s Grievance Redressal Forum) with their woes.

The forum, which was formed at Kottayam in October last year, has swelled with several victims of women’s atrocities from all over Kerala. The first southern regional conference of the forum held here last week was attended by a large number of such people from Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Pathanamthitta. Speaker after speaker unburdened nightmarish experiences with their wives. Most of them appeared to be mentally and physically shattered.

For some of them, their troubles started right from the honeymoon period. The problems for Mubarak, a Gulf-returnee, and hailing from a middle class family from Kaniyampuram, began when his wife refused to stay in his house after he left for the Gulf soon after his marriage. When he heard about this, he came back from the Gulf and worked out a compromise.

It ended the moment he returned to the Gulf. Mubarak tried for another compromise through the local Jamaat but eventually he had to settle for a divorce. Now he is in the dock in a number of court cases including one filed by the State Women’s Commission. ”She [his ex-wife] is now demanding Rs 2 million through the court. The police keep frequenting my house. Her brothers who are experts in Karate are hounding me. They are also engaged in a slur campaign to block my chances of re-marrying,” says Mubarak.

The wife of Joy of Mayyanad in Kollam decided to leave him when he refused to heed her request to seek a job in the Gulf. “When I made it clear that I cannot part with her and go to the Gulf she left the house and started staying in her house with our child. She has convinced my child that I am dead,” he revealed.

Krishnan Kutty, a government official whose love story climaxed in a marriage 23 years ago, is also being suffocated by a string of court cases, destruction of his properties and a smear campaign. He was shattered when he found out that one of his friends was a having an illicit relationship with his wife.

“Finally, after much introspection, I decided to get divorced out of a sense of shame. The case is still pending before the Family Court. The real story of torture began after I sought a divorce,” he explained. The wife with the help of her lover slapped several cases against him besides getting goons to threaten him. “My car and scooter were smashed. I began to be followed by goondas everywhere. When I was driven out of the house I built, I moved into a lodge,” he said.

What was striking about the cases that were brought to light at the conference was the bias shown by the police, the court and other authorities in favour of the women. “The authorities refused to believe the torture stories of men when they see tears in the eyes of women,” said the forum’s president K Divakaran. He said that the authorities are reluctant to accept the fact that men can become victims of women’s tortures.

Divakaran, who is also an advocate, said that most of the judicial forums in the country are also biased against men. The forum, he added, would fight for the repeal of Section 498 (A) from the Indian Penal Code, which trap men on charges of torturing women.

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