Don’t blame the man if a woman commits suicide, there may be more to their broken relationship, says our study...
It’s happening again. The media is uncertain whether supermodel Viveka Babaji left a suicide note on Friday blaming boyfriend Gautam Vora for driving her to end her life. Neighbours in the Bandra apartment block heard the couple fighting late on Thursday night. And the last entry in Viveka’s diary allegedly reads, “You killed me Gautam Vora.”
But does that incriminate Gautam in an abetment of suicide case under Section 306 of the IPC? It shouldn’t because Viveka, according to her elder sister Vineeta, had attempted suicide before, and was known to be hyper-sensitive, emotional, given to manic depressions, and lived a model’s life that flirted with drugs and alcohol abuse, loneliness, bad and broken relationships, the stress of insecurities and competition.
It’s also not fair to the guy in a case like this. Especially if the girl, as he discovers late into their relationship, is neurotic or even psychotic. We’re not saying this was Viveka’s condition. But certainly, only a loss of contact with reality could have led her to commit suicide. Her boyfriend, perhaps recalling how men in similar circumstances were hounded by the police, harassed by courts, and rejected by society, has gone into hiding already.
Cases in point are Miss India, model and TV host Nafisa Joseph’s suicide in July 2004 after fiancee Gautam Khanduja called off their wedding following differences of opinion over his earlier marriage and divorce. Her suicide led to his arrest and a case being filed against him that went on for quite some time. Likewise model and TV actress Kuljeet Randhawa’s suicide which brought her boyfriend Bhanu Uday under the scanner. Then there was air-hostess Sucheta Anand’s case in Mumbai two years ago where her boyfriend, co-pilot Arjun Menon, was arrested.
A study by BT has revealed that people are sympathetic towards men caught in such predicaments. And the general consensus is that unless the men are directly responsible for pushing the women to the edge, like in dowry deaths, they should not be held responsible, declared guilty, and punished. This is what our study revealed...
Not guilty, say the men
Narendra Kumar, designer
Of course, the man could be at fault, but not always the culprit. Men jump off buildings, too, and could be the victims sometimes. On one hand we say women and men are equal and on the other, the men are the first to be blamed. It all boils down to how well an individual can cope with a situation.
Kunal Kohli, filmmaker
Naturally, the suspicion will fall on the person closest to the victim, who’s been spending maximum time with her. It’s not fair because there can be a lot of reasons for a person to take such a step.
Acquin Pais, model
For someone to take such a drastic step means that he/she has been hurt/cheated by someone very close and dear to them. And usually, it is the boyfriend/ lover. In a superficial industry such as this, it can get extremely lonely. And most often than not, to get into such a frame of mind, it has to involve someone close to you.
Rahul DaCunha, adman
It’s too easy to blame suicide on spurned love. The guy can have been the last straw to an already suicidal mind.
Milind Soman, model
Unless you know, you shouldn’t talk. Useless speculation is a waste of time and energy.
Timmy Narang, businessman
It’s not fair. One always has the choice to stay or walk away from a relationship and take control of his/her life. It is not fair to blame others for your own weaknesses.
Pritish Nandy, writer
There are countless other reasons in today’s complex and extremely competitive world that can drive a girl to suicide. Why always blame a man? Relationships break down every day. Not everyone goes out and kills herself.
Chetan Hansraj, actor
When something drastic like this happens, the first reaction is to blame a bad relationship, thereby putting the blame on the boyfriend. It’s wrong, but then again, it’s natural.
Not guilty/ Medical experts
Psychiatrist Dr Anjali Chhabria says, “Not every suicide is a result of something traumatic in an individual’s life. It could be because of depression or the individual’s inherent personality. In borderline personality disorder cases, suicidal attempts are common. Indian society is women-oriented and there’s a natural tendency to blame the men when things happen. Until a matter is investigated thoroughly, no fingers should be pointed at anyone.” Suicides often take place due to career lows or failed relationships. Dr Rajan Bhosle, psychotherapist and relationship counselor, says, “Women are heart-oriented, their expectations are different. The man initially tends to make a lot of promises and later doesn’t keep them. That’s when the lady feels cheated and gets very demanding, which, in turn, pushes the man further away and they break up. However, the man can’t be blamed because both are responsible. She was wrong in putting all eggs in one basket and in believing that the end of one relationship is the end of the world.”
Not guilty/Legal expert
Criminal lawyer Satish Maneshinde says, “In a large number of cases, suicides happen because of breakups or fights in relationships. Whenever there is a suicide, the police zero in on people who are connected emotionally or through authority (employer in the case of an employee committing suicide) with the deceased. They even book people under abetment of suicide to prove that they’ve carried out their investigations. Abetment means either to goad or assist or help in preparation or instigate a person to commit suicide. But none of these really apply when it comes to suicides related to relationships/ breakups. Most of these suicides are to do with the person’s individuality or character, it’s more inbuilt and it’s not viewed as acquired. So when the abetment cases go to court, after a full-fledged trial, the people are let off because of lack of evidence and because abetment cannot be foisted on these cases connected with relationships.
What the law says...
Section 306, IPC on abetment of suicide says: If any person commits suicide, whoever abets the commission of such suicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine. However, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Himanshu Roy clarifies that mere mention of the man’s name in the suicide note does not make him culpable in each case unless it is convincingly proved that by his mental and physical harassment and abuse of the woman, he drove her to commit suicide.
Compiled by Nicole Dastur and Deepali Dhingra