Men from across the city wore badges that read ‘Husband not an ATM machine’, ‘Alimony kills her real potential’ and the like on Monday to mark the third anniversary of the Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA) coming into force here.
These men were victims of the misuse of laws like the PWDVA, section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (husband or relative of husband subjecting a woman to cruelty), section 125 of the Criminal Procedures Code (maintenance of wives, children) and child custody laws, which, they claimed, were heavily biased in favour of women.
Jinesh Zaveri, a member of the Indian Family Foundation (IFF) said, “Men who complain about physical or verbal violence inflicted by their wives are generally portrayed as cartoons. It needs to be understood that a huge number of men in the country has been caught in the web of false cases registered by their wives under various laws.”
Mr. Zaveri claimed that 98 per cent of all domestic violence cases were found to be baseless and false. He said: “We stand by the women who file genuine cases. But these laws, made for Sitas, have been cashed in on by Surpanakhas. Many women misuse these laws to exact alimony from their husbands. We are instead in favour of sponsoring professional courses for wives so that they become self-sufficient after parting from their husbands.”
Jaspreet Singh, a member of the IFF, said that he had to give 50 per cent of his salary to his wife as alimony, while she herself earned 50 per cent of his salary. The amount was huge considering that their marriage had lasted only a year and they had not had any children.
Dr. Sandeep Padwale, another member of the organisation, said that his wife was employed but had claimed to be otherwise in her affidavit. The emotional turmoil had cost him his job.
In order to address the problem of false cases, the men demanded a provision for punishment for all those misusing the law. They said that there should be a separate section in the IPC to safeguard the rights of men who were victims of the misuse of domestic violence laws. They also demanded the formation of a Ministry of Men’s Welfare “as it would take care of the very originator and contributor of the tax to the government.”
Mr. Zaveri said that the most basic problem encountered by men was that the police did not register cases against their wives. As a result there were no statistics regarding the number of men suffering because of false cases of domestic violence.
The organisation, therefore, used suicide statistics obtained from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) to arrive at estimates of misuse.
Mr. Zaveri said that as per the figures, over 56,000 married men committed suicide compared to 30,000 married women in 2007. Out of every 100 male suicides, 45 were married, while for every 100 female suicides, 25 were married.
He said that not only did false cases under the PWDVA drive the husbands to suicide but they also took a toll on the health of the husband’s parents.