On I-Day, men to demand neutral laws
When India celebrates its 64th Independence Day Sunday, around 100 men representing nearly 15 NGOs would press for the formulation of gender neutral laws at a meeting at the Yercaud hill station in Tamil Nadu.
The men's rights groups would meet in the cool climes of Yercaud under the aegis of Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF) to hotly deliberate social, judicial, health and other domestic issues affecting men.
They would also launch helplines and a National Litigant Bench (NLB) which will educate men involved in litigation at the meeting at Yercaud, some 380 km from Chennai.
'The worst sufferers of judicial delays are men. The NLB will help litigants in knowing their rights so that they are protected from undue judicial delays,' Uma Challa, president of All India Men's Welfare Association (AIMWA) told IANS over phone from Hyderabad.
'With cases taking decades to get settled, litigants lose their prime youth in going to courts rather than engaging in productive work,' Manoj, one of the architects of NLB, told IANS.
The one common thread binding the men's rights activists is that they all were involved in litigation mostly filed under women-centric laws or legal provisions.
'There is blatant abuse of legal provisions. If a person is found guilty, he should be punished. But when you bring in the element of monetary compensation for the complainant, then misuse of legal provisions kicks in,' Manoj said.
Legal provisions were framed to protect law-abiding women, but these are often misused, said Kumar V. Jahgirdar, a stock broker by profession and president of Child Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP) based in Bangalore.
In India, divorces are turning out to be a tsunami for men. When divorce tsunami hits a man, he loses everything including his children, he said.
'As to children visitation rights, on an average a father gets around 2-4 hours once in 15 days which is very insignificant,' he added.
'Our demand is that laws should be applied on a neutral basis. For instance, law provides for a man to claim maintenance from his wife. But when that provision is sought to be invoked society ridicules men,' Challa said citing her own brother's case.
'Not that my brother wanted to claim maintenance from his wife. It is just that we wanted to test the legal provision and he was ridiculed,' she added.
Suresh Ram of AIMWA added: 'The women's organisations are headed by radical feminists and women laws are influenced by them. In the name of individuals' rights, families are destroyed.'