11 October 2009
Venue: Public Gardens, Opposite Jubilee Hall
Date and Time: 11 October, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. India is observing this occasion for the first time this year, and four organizations in Hyderabad – Save Indian Family Foundation, All India Forgotten Women, Rishtey and Children’s Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting – launched a month-long campaign on 2 October, the International Day of Non-Violence.
The campaign aims at educating the Indian public about how the problem of domestic violence has, for decades, been misrepresented, how domestic violence has been commercialized, and how Indian laws claiming to prevent domestic violence are actually promoting domestic violence and human rights abuses against men, women and children. We will also urge lawmakers and the Government to make appropriate reforms in laws and policies and push for gender neutral provisions to end domestic violence against men, women and children.
As part of this campaign, we are launching an “All India Men’s Welfare Association (AIMWA)”, a National level organization based in Hyderabad, on 11 October 2009.
Why do we need an “All India Men’s Welfare Association”?
Welfare of boys and men has been seriously neglected in India over the last two decades. While proudly championing the cause of women’s rights and women’s empowerment, the government and society tacitly approved the propagation of anti-male sentiments, condoned the resultant diminution in value of men’s lives and supported blatant violation of men’s rights through discriminatory laws and policies. The growing apathy of the government and society towards the sufferings of men has necessitated the formation of an All India Men’s Welfare Association.
It has to be noted that while men still perform some of the most risky and challenging jobs in the society, and while the Government of India collects 82% of its tax revenue from men, not a single rupee has been allocated in the name of men’s welfare in the country’s budget in the last 60 years.
The National Family Health Survey, conducted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, does not consider men’s health and welfare important. Enormous focus on women and children, and the mention of men only in relation to how they should contribute to the health and welfare of women and children, clearly indicates the apathy of the Government towards men.
The homepage of the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) cites Vardhamana Mahavira, the sage of total non-violence, who said, “All beings are fond of themselves, they like pleasure, they hate pain, they shun destruction, they like life and want to live long. To all, life is dear; hence their life should be protected.” While Mahavira’s teachings seem to have inspired the Indian Government to assign a separate ministry to look after issues of Animal Welfare through AWBI, the same Government did not see any necessity to establish a Ministry for Men’s Welfare.
Several laws have been passed in the last 60 years in the name of protection of women and their empowerment. However, there are no laws to protect boys and men from any form of abuse or harassment within and outside the home. Men are being subjected to severe discrimination under law, and their basic human rights are being violated every day in the name of more and more legal provisions that claim to empower and protect women.
Thousands of men are becoming victims of “legal terrorism” unleashed through laws like Indian Penal Code Section 498A, Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act, adultery laws, laws against rape and sexual harassment, and even divorce, maintenance and child custody laws.
While society is applauding more and more women getting educated, entering the job market and challenging their traditional roles within the family and society, men are still being shackled to their traditional duties of protecting and providing for women, children and the aged.
The growing disregard and hatred against men in our society is forcing more than 56,000 Indian men to end their lives every year. According to statistics obtained from the National Crime Records Bureau, every year, twice as many married men, compared to women, commit suicides unable to withstand verbal, emotional, economic and physical abuse and legal harassment. Deaths of these men make for the brief stories we often read in newspapers stating that a certain man “killed himself due to family issues or financial problems”. While every death of a young married woman is converted into a case of dowry death leading to immediate arrest of the husband and in-laws, accompanied by media-hype, male-bashing and breast-beating, large-scale suicides of men do not cause any outrage in the society.
Domestic and social harmony will prevail only when women AND men are ensured their rightful, honorable place within and outside the home. In addition, when we ensure true gender equality under law, litigations will be reduced, legal terrorism and extortion through misuse of the law will be eliminated, and our human and financial resources can be employed for betterment of the society and the country.
The aim of AIMWA is to work towards providing protection for men and boys against gender discrimination, domestic violence, sexual harassment and other forms of abuse. The organization will also focus on related issues like physical and mental health of men, and the need for social changes, policy reforms and legal solutions to men’s problems.