Meet Saket Sekhsaria a seventeen year class XII student of Mahindra UWC. He has recently created a sensation by creating a petition on change.org for gender neutral laws in India.
The Male Factor as always brings you this exclusive interview with this young sensation who has gone out of his way to create awareness about prevailing misandry in our society and came forward as a ray of hope for future generations.
- Hi Saket, can you please tell us how old are you?
I am 17 years old.
2. What do you do presently? What is your goal in life!
I am studying in 12th grade at Mahindra UWC of India. My goal is to live in a way where regrets are minimized and I follow my wishes, ideas and passions, however far-fetched they may be.
- What prompted you to create a petition on change.org about gender neutrality in our laws?
I came across these laws during an activism panel at my school and could not believe in my eyes! I wanted awareness but thought that this could only be achieved by removing the social stigmas and rewarding the brave victims by aiding in the procurement of justice. I looked into the legalities and then realized that creating the petition was my best chance.
- Any specific reason for selecting rape and domestic violence laws for your petition?
Yes. One of the main reasons I believe we have gender biased laws is because of the stereotypes in our mind of the crime, the victim and the perpetrator. We refuse to budge from it and hence take up one sided campaigns which completely alienate other aspects or potential victims. With rape and domestic violence statistics so high for men, transgender(s) and people of other genders, I decided that by debunking the whole “Men don’t feel pain” “Men cannot be victims” stereotype we could show all the people that men also need care, empathy and justice. This way even women would be benefitted as men would realize that they are not superior and can also be victims. This is essentially a win for everyone if perceived correctly.
- When and how did you come to know about gender biased laws in India?
We had an event called “16 days of activism” at my school. There we had a feminist panel but not a masculinist panel. Puzzled and curious my friend and I, decided to take initiative. During research we realized the extent of the problems and lack of laws to counter them.
- Are you convinced that our MPs will listen to you if your petition reaches them?
I am certain that the statistics really speak for themselves and would be shocked if MPs are able to ignore such a large demographic of victims. I am still reeling from the fact that these issues haven’t been solved yet and do not see any problems or side effects that could terminate the passing of the amendment.
- What are your future plans to fight against these biased laws?
I intend to raise the right structures to ensure the fight continues until victory is seen. I understand that it needs a good amount of press and advocating and will try my best to make sure that it is handled well. My future plan though consists of using the above mentioned structures to create the interdependence which will make sure that injustice is easily reported and solved.
- How do your friends, family and relatives see this initiative?
Everyone is incredibly supportive of the campaign. I am lucky to be backed by amazing people. They have been patient and given me good pointers on the organization and writing of the campaign.
- What do you think is behind creation of these gender biased laws?
I think it is the stereotypes of crimes that have occupied the creators of these laws. It is also a lack of perspective and a biased state of mind no doubt, but I know that we have all been shocked by these statistics. I am sure once the creators see these other perspectives, they will have no choice but to acknowledge the issues and change the law.
- How do you intend to make India a better place to live for her men?
I believe in our nation and the people of it. If we want a better place, we must fight for it. We must look at the various injustice and fight them one at a time while looking to make sure we keep justice in mind at all times. I intend to keep this ideology in mind and become an activist of change but ask everyone, regardless of gender, to join in and fight this injustice. One gender cannot make progress without the help of the other; we must unite as one and push for gender neutral laws that bring justice to all. Then we have a better place for men, women and everyone.
- According to you, other than gender biased laws, what are the other issues Indian men and boys are facing today?
Indian men and boys are facing the impact of all the clichés of Bollywood, Hollywood and a misrepresented gender identity. We are forced to fit into certain criteria in terms of looks, actions, likes, dislikes and more. We are expected to be stronger than others physically, mentally and emotionally. This is too much a burden and is an unfair representation. This is present in other gender identities as well but is not acknowledged as much for men; many still believe these representations to be true and rarely speak out if they don’t.
- Do you think working for men’s rights will be harmful for women’s rights? If not, why?
I believe in equality. When someone works for equality, they only look at justice. I do not believe by making laws gender neutral, we are harming anyone’s rights. By providing a man justice for rape, I am not advocating denial for a women; I am fighting for them both to receive equal rights, punishments. If we make all laws gender neutral, we are advocating for both men’s, women’s and other’s rights and thus harm no-one.
- What other activities you intend to take up for fighting for men’s rights?
It is critical to realize that by only me taking action, nothing is going to happen. We need everyone to take up, participate in activities to make a difference. I will continue to partake in issues I can tackle but admit I do not possess all the knowledge and need others to step up to really make a difference.
- Do you think more young boys like you should join men’s rights or fight for gender neutral laws? If so, why?
Everyone, of every gender, should fight for men’s rights because fundamentally, we all believe in justice and must fight for it. As Martin Luther King Jr. said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. I also think that by granting men’s rights there is a lot of positivity that people of other genders will feel. We are made to be symbiotic and need everyone for it.
- What do you think is the future of boys and men in India?
The future is whatever we make it and if people take up initiatives like some braves have done in the past, we are headed into an exciting future. Several problems still exist but it is us, and only us, who can solve our issues.
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