AS women clamour for equality, some men are also gearing up to fight for their rights. And what they too want , is equality.
“There are 24 laws that are women-centric in our system,” says Frances Anthony, convenor of the Tamil Nadu Chapter of the All India Men’s Welfare Association (AIMWA).
“Women misuse the law and use their children to threaten the father. The laws are making ours a fatherless society,” he adds.
Just a week ahead of Father’s Day, this group of men proclaimed a national boycott of the Family Courts and submitted a memorandum and a petition to the Principal Judge of the Family Court, with an appeal to make the law gender-neutral.
Leading the group on Friday was Kalaiselvan, who has not seen his son for the last 12 years. “I got married in 1997 and filed for divorce in 2002.
Our son was born in 1999.
Though I have been given rights to visit and see my son by the court, I’ve not set eyes on my son since he was born
it’s been 12 years now,” he says. Kalaiselvan alleged that he lost his job as a civil engineer in Kuwait because his wife complained about him to the company . “She misused the judicial system, filed a dowry harassment case against me and I spent 25 days in jail without bail. Even now, she refuses to obey the courts. I have appealed to the court many times saying she must be booked for contempt for not allowing me to see my son, but the courts remain silent. The dowry harassment case is still on and I have no job and no hope of seeing my boy anytime soon,” he grieves. The men in this organisation say they were not against women or trying to deprive the fairer sex of their rights. “Women are not victims in all cases. In the 21st century, women are equal in their families. They have an equal voice.
But they’re misusing these laws and turning their husband into ATMs to withdraw money when they feel like it,” says Frances.
S Hariharan, an employee of a telecom firm, agrees and says, “I have not been given visitation and customary rights of my two children by the courts. It has been three
years since I last saw them.”
The solution, he says, is to play it carefully. “When we gave him the petition, the principal judge of the Family Court, Ramalingam, told us that the society needs to change. He agreed that laws are misused by women in many cases. He suggested that couples should go in for judicial separation until the child turns 18 after which they can file for divorce.
Judicial separation allows visitation rights for the father as well. Fathers too feel the pain when they’re separated from their children,” Hariharan says.