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INDIAN LAWS THAT ARE UNFAIR TO MEN

INTRODUCTION

EQUALITY is becoming the new normal and feminists are using the concept of GENDER EQUALITY as their weapon against any and every evil practice which is biased against women. Indian laws, too, recognize the importance of women’s empowerment and have certain provisions that bring women to an equal status, like that of men.

But, in this new era of strengthening the deprived group, we are forgetting the real meaning of EQUALITY. The term doesn’t mean putting women in an advantageous situation at the loss of men but refers to parity and non-discrimination between both sexes.

But unfortunately, in our attempt to empower women, we have made laws that are unfair to men.

In this blog, I’ll be discussing some laws in the Indian Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure, which are biased against men, and place women in a favourable situation.

INDIAN PENAL CODE

The Indian Penal Code[1], the main criminal code of India, lists punishments for offences committed in India and applies to all Indian citizens.

The following acts under the IPC are biased against men:

Section 375 (Rape)

Section 375[2] defines rape as a sexual assault by a ‘MAN’, against the will of a ‘WOMAN’. The section, thus, doesn’t recognize that men can also be the victims of rape, undertaken by women. It is imperative to recognize that even men can be and are often victims of sexual assault. Though male rape has not been researched as widely as female rape, a few reports and statistics prove that men are raped and the occurrence of such events is higher than it is expected or known. Moreover, there are no laws to protect the modesty of a man. Section 354[3] of the IPC only covers the criminal force on a woman with the intent to outrage her modesty. It doesn’t protect men, who are bullied by women.

It’s the eleventh hour, and before it’s too late, we need to rectify the gender-biased laws and safeguard men from further unreported exploitation.

Though crimes, including sexual assaults, are gender-neutral, they are often associated to be committed only by men. And this is one of the major limitations in the process of creating a GENDER NEUTRAL SOCIETY. The first step to be taken is acknowledging and creating awareness about the fact that even men suffer molestation and sexual assaults. Secondly, male rapes should be reported considerably. The men should be given protection by law and section 375 should expand its ambit to include the rapes committed by females against males. Lastly, everyone should stand together to build a system against all types of rapes and assaults. 

Section 304b[4] (Dowry Death) and 498a [5] (Cruelty against Women)

Dowry death is considered to be the most evil practice in Indian society. Whenever we hear this word, cruelty by husbands, torturing by in-laws, and huge materialistic demands are the obvious thoughts. But this phenomenon is highly exaggerated than it is. In as many as 44% of the reported cases of dowry death, the prosecution is thoroughly unjustified. Despite being innocent most of the time, the husband and his family members have to face grave socio-economic consequences. The reputation of the family is hurt, along with the draining of their financial resources. Sometimes, the consequences can be as grave as the commitment of suicide by the accused husband.

The real problem is not the reporting of false cases, but the fact that these offences are non-bailable and cognizable. Making the law more unfair for men is the provision of ‘guilty until proven innocent’ for the accused husband and his family.

A man is physically, mentally, and emotionally drained if such cases are filed against him. To protect males from false accusations, a change in the provisions is required. The complainant must hold the burden of proof and the accused should be treated as ‘innocent until proven guilty’, like in other cases.

CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE [6]

The main objective [7] of CrPc is said to provide a fair opportunity for an accused person to conduct a fair trial according to the principle of natural justice.

But ironically, some of its provisions are not fair to men.

Section 125 [8]

The section puts the duty of the maintenance of parents, wives, and children on the shoulders of a man, thus levying the responsibility of earning money and fulfilling the needs of the male members of the family only. If a person fails to provide a monthly allowance to his parents or spouse, he is either subjected to pay fines or is imprisoned for a month or till the payment is made.

Since, the section puts the burden of maintenance only on the men; it violates Article 14[9], which says that equality before the law shall not be denied to any person within the territory of India.

The section should, therefore, be amended to give the responsibility of maintenance to every capable person, irrespective of their sex. The burden of working hard and earning money should not lie on only one part of society.

SPECIAL MARRIAGE ACT [10]

Not only do men bear the burden of maintenance of their families, but they also have to provide alimony to their wives, after divorce, according to Section 37 of the Special Marriage Act. This monthly or weekly payment adds up to the onus on the man.

However, no such responsibility lies on the shoulders of women, who earn well and are capable of giving alimony to their husbands, after divorce.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT[11]

In the act, the clear definition of an aggrieved person is a woman, who is in a domestic relationship, and alleges her husband of violence. But the act doesn’t include the men who are tortured by their wives, hence, leaving them with no protection from the tyranny of women in the household.

Shockingly, out of 1000 men, 51.5 per cent experience spousal violence in India at least once in their lives.[12] When the crime is so widespread, then why is there no law to stop it? It’s high time that we redefine an ‘aggrieved’ person to include men in the sphere of domestic violence.

CONCLUSION

While the influence and realm of feminism are expanding, we all need to understand what it means. It isn’t just about empowering women but bringing about equality between both sexes. We all are entangled in a web of thinking that it’s only the men who dominate society, who commit the crimes, and it’s the women who are fragile and need protection. But crime has no age, no caste, no religion, and no gender. It can be committed by anyone, and the victims need protection, in line with the principle of equality. In such a situation, we need laws that do not discriminate while punishing the wrongdoers and protecting the victims.

To achieve GENDER NEUTRALITY, we need to amend gender-biased laws and give men and women, equal rights and responsibilities, and equal protection and punishment.

Author(s) Name: Archita Garg (Christ University, Bangalore)

References:

[1] Indian Penal Code 1860

[2] Indian Penal Code 1860, s 375

[3] Indian Penal Code 1860, s 354

[4] Indian Penal Code 1860, s 304 ss B

[5] Indian Penal Code 1860, s  498 ss A

[6] Code of Criminal Procedure 1973

[7] Glmain, ‘Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC): Complying Principles Of Natural Justice’ (GetLegal India) <https://getlegalindia.com/crpc-bare-act/ > accessed June 7, 2023

[8] Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, s 125

[9] Constitution of India 1950, Art 14

[10] Special Marriage Act 1954

[11] Domestic Violence Act 2005

[12] Rudrani Gupta, ‘Domestic Violence Against Men: Why Don’t We Take It Seriously’ (She The People, May 26, 2022) <https://www.shethepeople.tv/top-stories/opinion/male-domestic-violence/ > accessed June 8, 2023