Sunday, August 9, 2009

Our heartfelt sympathy to our brothers in India, where males are legally second class citizens

Boys fight for freedom!

Rage. That’s what one gets to see in the eyes of harassed husbands and men’s rights activists in the city, who, outraged by laws, which they claim are unfair, are now getting ready to voice their protest on Independence Day this year.

“We are abstaining from Independence Day celebrations this year to protest the unfair laws that favour women,” says Suresh, the convenor of the Chennai Chapter of the Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF), an organisation fighting for men’s rights and family harmony under the aegis of the Save Indian Family movement.

Men’s groups across the country have been protesting gender-biased laws in general and the Domestic Violence Act and the 498A, in particular.

Citing an instance, he says, “At present, Indian law considers adultery as a crime when committed by Indian men, but not so when committed by women. This is blatant discrimination against men. Also, Indian law exempts women from punishment for domestic violence. The laws have been pampering women by not according them any duties, while creating obligations for men. By this decidedly anti-male mindset of the law, men in India have started to feel that it’s perhaps a crime to be born a male in India.”

Kumar Jahgirdar, the president of Children’s Rights Initiative For Shared Parenting (CRISP), which is working to ensure the rights of children, points out another hotly contested issue.

“Women’s rights are different from children’s rights. What’s more, the rights of both these categories are not always compatible. While remarriage might be in the interest of a woman who has divorced her husband, it may not be in the best interest of her child. So, ideally, there should be a separate ministry for children to look into issues concerning their rights. However, in India, that isn’t the case. Children constitute forty percent of the population and there is no separate ministry for them. A child has to have access to both parents because nature has provided some unique qualities to the father which cannot be substituted by the mother, and vice-versa.”

Giving out details of what SIFF plans to do on Independence Day, Suresh says, “This Independence Day, our members in Chennai will distribute flyers at the Marina Beach in the morning, elucidating our problems, cause and activities. We are also planning to present a memorandum to the Governor and the Law Minister of the state.”

Also, there is bound to be action at the national level as well as the Save Indian Family Movement’s second national conference, is to be held on August 15 and 16 at Shimla. Says Virag, an office-bearer of SIFF, “The first one was held in Goa last year. There are 14 non-governmental organisations affiliated to the SIFF across the country and at least 100 active leaders from different parts of the country will be attending this meet to discuss ways to further intensify our agitation and reiterate our demand for a National Commission for Men and Men’s Welfare Ministry.”

Informs Suresh,“This time, nine members from Chennai will be participating in the national conference in Shimla.”

Volunteers from various other organisations such as the Family Cultural Forum and CRISP will also join SIFF’s members in distributing pamphlets on Independence Day. It seems that men have finally taken the fight for freedom from harassment to the next level!