In recent times India has seen a sudden spurt in women related crime covering all kinds of media. There is a belief set in our minds that suddenly this nation has become very cruel to its fairer sex. Indian men are termed as rapists and abuser globally. The nation has observed many male celebrities coming forward and saying how they are “ashamed of their manhood”. Many campaigns regarding save our girls came into effect. Many multinational brands wanted to take this opportunity and designed special marketing campaigns to increase their customer base. We have seen men are asked to be “Soldiers” for the women. Everywhere it is projected that Indian men need to respect women. Period.
When we switch to any media, almost every day we see one rape case reported from different parts of India. Each of these cases takes a substantial portion of every media and hence occupies lion’s share of our attention too. Men being the natural protectors become ashamed that they are not able to do their DUTY of instilling a sense of security among women. Women feel they are endangered by the men around them. A great sense of insecurity prevails among every person and the threat seems to be greater than a foreign invasion.
News of foreign invasion or terrorist activities within the country seems to be smaller compared to this insecurity among people. It becomes evident when we fail to see not much sustained coverage of such news compared to rape news. The media space covered by foreign invasion news is limited and news about terrorism or those scams also remains limited to a few city editions before it dies down. And MOST of us fail to recognize this bias in reporting.
If we go back in our history only by 30 years, we will remember how in the ‘80s we have seen dowry harassment cases or bride burning cases coming up every other day. India became a land of dowry mongers, who want to marry women only if they paid a huge dowry. We brought in new legislation to tackle the issue in ’83 and today we know it has only misused and how it ruined many families.
Similarly, in the ‘90s we have seen domestic violence being a bigger issue and in every national and international survey on domestic violence, a large number of India women are projected as victims. As a result, we have got the DV Act in 2005. Most of us didn’t even notice the details of the act and were very happy that such an act will ultimately safeguard our womenfolk and we will progress to a better future.
But that was not all, there were instances promoted how these women are affected after divorce and hence it was demanded that they are given 50% of husband’s property on divorce in the name of IrBM, in spite of the fact that there were already five different maintenance laws in force then. So was sexual harassment projected as the biggest menace. But these were not passed in parliament and feminist groups were just waiting for an opportunity to push these through.
In December 2012, the unfortunate Delhi incident brought in that opportunity to these groups in making stronger demands for biased laws and all women related laws were sought to be tougher. Not only that the sexual assault bill brought in many crimes under the purview of serious crimes and one or two cases were projected to show how BIG the issue in India.
In the nationwide frenzy ‘Marital Rape’ was also sought to be introduced. Different prominent newspapers demanded and projected fictitious marital rape cases. Of course in these articles always names of victims were changed so that no one could verify them. Some doctors were quoted saying ‘Marital rape’ is a serious problem in India and hence chemical castration was demanded the offenders.
But this propaganda media didn’t last for long as some die-hard rights activists raised the question about the validity of such news that the media houses couldn’t answer those questions. They said it is the same media houses that were saying reduced sex plaguing our marriages, married couples not having a good sex life due to increased stress or the sex drive in men and women is decreasing until some days ago. Then what did the Delhi incident change to suddenly make these frigid men hungry for sex? Of course, none of the media promoting marital rape theory could answer that.
But there were many more successes for feminists than failures. The Delhi rape incident which was one of a kind incident and should be condemned at all levels brought in sea changes in all other legislation related to crime against women. All kinds of bills that were pending before parliament were passed and provisions became tougher for men. Yes, against ‘ALL MEN’. Because if women are attacked then men must be the criminals.
Many men actively supported these campaigns of tougher laws without realizing what they were inviting for them. Because of the increased rate of reporting, sustained coverage each rape incident was made to look bigger than it is. Many men fueled the media campaign by actively sharing the news, discussing the same in different forums, demanding strict and unforeseen punishment for rapists and also stricter laws. None of them, of course, had any knowledge about real stats or how rape cases are filed in the country but every one of them wanted to give an expert opinion. Lawyer groups found it as an opportunity for increased business as more laws will make their business grow so they had no hesitation in supporting either. Only some common men who were already suffering due to various gender biased laws knew what was happening.
These men knew that crime against men is never reported or discussed anywhere and how many innocents are dragged in this net and suffer humiliation. They knew 75% rape cases in the country are false, consensual sex being termed as rape, live-in relations as termed as rape. But the general menfolk without any knowledge of our crime data were not aware. Only a few human rights activists who have gone through all national stats knew how Dowry, Domestic Violence, Dowry death were earlier projected as biggest evil and how still today people believe that in India women are burnt to death for dowry. (Dowry Death – doesn’t mean these are bride burning. Any unnatural death within seven years of marriage is termed as dowry death. Only 20% of such cases are proved).
But the recent frenzy about women related crime has changed everything. Not only stricter punishment is introduced but in all such cases, men are asked to prove their innocence. Normally in criminal cases, the prosecution has to prove their case, but dowry death became the exception. Suddenly these have become special. In one 498a case in WB, the man was sent to jail – “even though the charges were not proved against him, but based on doubt”…
So far different human rights groups were raising questions about low conviction rates in women related crime and hence we see how the conviction rate is increased comfortably by such changes. As a nation we are talking about police reforms, judicial reforms but are these only to punish men in any way possible? Looks like that is the solution sought to curb women-related crimes.
Today we see anything happening to women become a headline but news about women committing a crime suppressed heavily. Thus making it look like all women are suffering and more and more men are becoming concerned for women’s safety. A situation is created where any man suffering today still feels that women are suffering more and men’s suffering is one of incidence as there is no news about them anywhere. That is why on the date of the Delhi incident a man was cut into 17 pieces by his wife but not reported in media. After two days of the Delhi incident, another man was cut into 11 pieces by his wife..that also failed to make any news. One family of four including the mother committed suicide in Pune due to threats from their DIL about false criminal cases..but no one knew them.
What most of us fail to understand is by suppressing some crime and creating hype about certain other types of crime and thus making these look bigger than they actually are, we are creating a big social issue. Crime is always there in a society and to curb them we can’t create so much bias that destroys our very social construct. By sending innocents to jail we are not doing any favour to our society.
Common men who don’t bother to go through the crime data, or understand how such cases are filed, what is the punishment given to women for false cases etc only react on emotion. Men react because they think they are a failure in doing their duty, women also react under emotion because they feel threatened. But our media can’t act to fuel this emotion that will eventually destroy our nation. When they report any crime they also need to report with equal emphasis on each false case. Today we see when a false rape case is filed against a Political Bigwig from the most powerful family in the nation, the complainant and her lawyers are punished, when a female athlete from WB is accused of raping her live-in partner women groups still demand her rights, but the same treatment is never meted out to other men accused of rape, including the ones who were accused of life in relations. Rather we demand strict punishment for the rapists. Why is this double standard?
To curb violence against women, recently we have seen the campaign by many social thinkers and male celebrities about respect women. Our social networking sites are abuzz with such new pages and defining what a ‘Mard’ is. What these campaigners don’t understand that by only promoting ‘Respect women’ they are creating a gender bias in our society. If women need respect, so do men. People need to be respected for their deeds and not for their gender, caste or religion. If we start doing this then all women criminals will go unnoticed and scot-free while innocent men, who might have been already respecting women will get punishment.
So my question to the real men out there – when saving women becomes your duty, what do you when the same woman attacks you? Who saves you? Will you be able to save yourself? When she comes with other women and assault you in public, what do you do?
The social construct that taught us to respect women will still make us feel guilty of the assault on us. We have seen that without expecting any justice these men either commit suicide or commit a crime. That is why we see very high suicide rate among men over the years and common men in India becoming criminals recently.
So by promoting such one-sided view of “Respect – based on gender” in all different forums, we are unknowingly creating a deep social divide that will be irreparable in days to come. Today almost everything has become women rights issue, even respect is demanded. We forget that we get respect automatically for our deeds rather than demanding the same based on gender.