Spousal abuse isn’t something that is only faced by women but is even faced by men but the only condition attached to it is that you aren’t supposed to say it due to societal restrictions. It’s striking to know that our constitution only protects women against any type of crime that comes under the category of sexual acts like sexual harassment, sexual assault etc. It has been rightly said that crime has no gender and that is exactly where the problem lies. We have seen a history that has always dominated and intimidated women, so we made laws for our women but we forgot to save the rights of our men. It has been inserted into our minds since the very day we are born that it is men who commit the most crimes and women are rather victims. But we are neither taught the opposite nor are told the true meaning of equality. We made laws for our women but such that they might destroy the life of an innocent man.
WHAT IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT/ ASSAULT
As per EEOC, sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favour and other verbal or physical conduct of sexual nature. These may be dependent on the individual’s employment and even one’s work performance. It may include:
- Actual or unwanted rape or sexual assault
- Unwanted pressure for sexual favours
- Unwanted deliberate touching, leaning over
- Unwanted sexual looks or gestures
- Unwanted letters, phone calls etc.
How ironic is that even after the definitions clearly state no specific gender against which crimes can be committed, we only make laws for women and completely neglect men.
INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE
IPV or intimate partner violence can be experienced by any spouse be it, wife or husband. It is the abuse or aggression that occurs in a romantic relationship and can occur in both former spouses or even current partners. It can be of various types like physical violence, sexual violence, stalking and psychological aggression. In a recent cross-section study, it was found that 52.4% of males experienced gender-based violence and out of 1000 males, 51.5% experienced IPV at the hands of their spouse at least once in their lifetime. In another cross-sectional study of gender-based violence against men in Haryana, 52.4 per cent of men said they had experienced violence.
Even in the Indian Constitution, Sections 354A to 354D and 375 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 clearly states that only a woman can be the victim of the offences as stated in the above-mentioned sections and a man would be the perpetrator. The Protection of Domestic Violence Act, 2005 itself states that it is an act favouring women who have been allegedly subjected to domestic violence. Unluckily, there is no provision as to what remedy is available to a man if he is subjected to domestic violence. Often due to these women-centric laws, men have to face false accusations and trials as some women use these laws as a tool to harass the men.
When we look at the penile penetration conditions, it is justified on the basis that it’s physically and biologically impossible for women to rape a man and rape is a gendered crime. In such a situation where there are no provisions to save men who are victims of sexual assault, shows a grave violation of article 14 of the Indian constitution which provides us with the right to equality and prohibits any form of discrimination based on gender, caste, colour etc. But what sort of equality is this when our laws aren’t equal for every gender. Our Indian judicial system has worked day and night to provide equality and security to the women of our country, but why do we always forget that another gender also exists, whom we call ‘perpetrators’ might be the victim of a sexual crime committed against them.
Cases like ‘Nisha Sharma Dowry Case’(Mahila Nisha sharma v. state of Madhya Pradesh) are not once in blue moon cases. Here, Nisha Sharma falsely accused her husband Munish Dalal and his family members of harassment for not giving the required dowry. The case started in 2003 and Munish was finally acquitted in 2012, 9 years later Munish and his family got justice for the false accusations being made against them. Cases like Sejal Sharma V. State Of Haryana, Neena Shad V. Mcd etc where there were false accusations of rape, sexual harassment being made to coerce the party and extort money and many more, happen around us daily but our ability to ignore them shows how much embedded we are in our man-made stereotypes where we consider the word “man” to be a sign of masculinity, control of emotions and a shame for a male to disclose their feelings since we live in a male-dominated society.
REASONS WHY SUCH CASES GO UNDETECTED
- General stereotypes against males: men often feel that might be discriminated against or judged upon for opening up about their feelings. Also knowing the fact that there are gender favouring laws, they feel that no one will listen and acknowledge their problem.
- Fear of fake cases: men often feel that since there are gender favouring laws, they would have to go through unnecessary legal consequences which would affect them and their families.
- Societal and family pressure: we live in a very judgemental society where we are constantly judging the people around us and hence fearing this judgement due to some preconceived notions around the idea of men being the head of the family, many aren’t able to open up.
- Denial: We have built this idea around our heads that sexual acts or acts of domestic violence can only happen to women and completely ignore the fact that the same can also happen with men be it at home or their workplace. Most of the time, people tend to deny the fact that something of this sort has occurred with them.
Being females ourselves, we see many injustices happening around us but sadly we have been given the same education as our counter gender that you need to tolerate the injustice, but the only difference here is that we women have started raising our voices due to laws supporting us, but the societal notion of ‘man is the bread earner’ and men are supposed to be bold has been taken as a basis of all laws. Therefore, it is high time that gender-neutral laws be made that not only favour women but at the same time save men from the unwanted false accusations that are put on them which destroys them and their families. When these laws were enacted, the situation was different and in today’s time the situation is different. We had a past that overshadowed one gender, but today, each and every person is exploring themselves, craving for opportunities to fly high. It’s a need of the hour that we now make a shift from women-centric laws to ‘equality-centric’ laws.
Author(s) Name: Suhani Singhal (Nirma University, Ahmedabad)