Partha – Hi Anil, Congratulations for representing India at International Men’s Conference (ICMI, 2016) for the second year in a row and thanks for agreeing to share your experience at International Men’s Conference (ICMI, 2016) with my readers.
Anil – Thanks Partha. Well, I have worked closely with American Men’s activists since 2009. It is logical that all Men’s Rights organizations and experts across world to join hands together in dealing with serious issues that impact ordinary men across the world.
Partha – How do you think International Men’s Rights Movement has evolved over the last few years?
Anil – Significant changes occurred during 2006-2009 in International men’s movement. One of the major changes was that the men’s movement took a more centrist position rather than aligning itself with the conservatives, the right wing or the religious groups. This gave the activists to work on issues without any constraints.
In these years, a lot of changes happened due to increasing usage of social media and Youtube. This accelerated progress of the movement. In countries like US or UK, there are a number of men’s issues organizations, which are impacting Govt. policy and making a difference in ground level work. When the law “Violence Against Women Act” (VAWA) was supposed to be reauthorized in US congress couple of years ago, it led to a deadlock situation due to activism of men’s organizations, who demanded more accountability and checks and balances.
However, this is just the beginning and a lot of work needs to be done in next couple decades. The false rape allegations are a serious problems across the western world and also India.
Partha – How do you think this year’s conference was different from last one?
Anil – This year’s Conference on Men’s Issues went to a new level compared to the conference at Detroit in 2014. Firstly, experts from more than 20 countries attended this conference and the age of speakers ranged from 20 years to 76 years. We learned from our experiences in last conference. There were certain advantages of it being held in Europe, which made it easier for many people from different European countries to attend.
Of course, I must appreciate Mike Buchanan and his team at Justice for Men and Boys, a political party of UK, for bringing in all their experience in organizing such a big event.
Partha – What were your key takeaways from this international conference?
Anil – Imagine, sitting with experts from Scandinavian countries in evening parties discussing about issues of mutual interest. Every year, our media talks about how these countries are ranked high in global gender parity index, without telling us if they are really creating equality between both genders or they are just competing to put men down.
British MP Philip Davies speech at ICMI, London 2016
The key takeaways are our future partnerships with various organizations and experts across the world.
Partha – What do you think International MRM needs to learn (if any) from Indian MRM?
Anil – Men’s activists in other countries can benefit from Indian men’s movement by learning about how we create men’s support groups and how we run our organizations and campaigns.
Partha – What do you think Indian MRM needs to learn from MRM in other countries?
Anil – Indian men’s activists are relatively younger in age compared to activists in other countries. So, there is a gap at an intellectual level. In West, large number of high quality books on men’s issues are getting published. In fact, there was a book signing session on 2nd day of the conference. The activists in west bring almost 2 generations of experience with them. So, the activists in India need to learn more about men’s issues across the world.
Partha – What are those areas where Indian MRAs need to be sensitized fast and how?
Anil – I think, Indian activists understand the core issues very well. It’s good that they are focusing on a few core areas. What they need is a collective vision of future, which can inspire them. There is a greater need of discussion and collaboration for long term strategic needs.
Partha – How do you think Indian MRM can integrate with the global movements and how can we become a sizeable global force?
Anil – With social media, Indian activists are already integrated with the global movements. As we are an English speaking country with huge population in social media, we can easily become a global force and guys in India can make enormous difference to the movement across the world. It just needs a bit of patience and willingness to team up with activists in other countries.
Partha – What are the key areas for improvements for Indian MRM?
Anil – There is saying, – “if you are not growing, then you are shrinking.” The same applies to Men’s Rights activism in India. Guys in India must look into future and ask themselves – what do we want to see in next 5 years and 10 years in our organizations and in our activities. They have to realize that discrimination of men will not end and it may actually get worse in next decade or so. Wishing a couple of laws to become gender neutral is a very short sighted view of future.
Once teams and men’s organizations start focusing on long term organizational goals, they will automatically see the gaps that need to be bridged. There is a lot of expertise among Indian men’s activists and experts. If this knowledge is readily imparted to new activists, it will make a huge difference.
Partha – How collaboration with men’s organizations in other countries can help the men’s movement in India?
Anil – We have to understand that India goes through a lot of international pressure about the way it handles women’s issues. As it’s a big country with a huge population, it tends to be more in bad news. Feminists and other vested interests have seized this opportunity to unleash war against men. This international negative propaganda can be effectively stopped when we work closely with men’s activists in other countries.
Most people in West do not know that it is legal in India for a woman to perpetrate family violence against her husband and her partner or it’s legal for a woman to sexually assault or stalk a man in India. We need to educate people in West and we need to influence the politicians and law makers in Western countries about the human rights violation of men in India due to draconian laws, without any checks and balances.
Partha– Thanks Anil for your time. Last but not the least, is there any way, people can access the talks by the speakers at the conference.
Anil – All the talks will be uploaded to Youtube in a month’s time. I think, a couple of talks are already uploaded.
[Anil Kumar is a techie, life coach and an expert on men’s issues. He has testified several times in front of Indian parliamentary committees regarding laws related to marriage and domestic violence. He has also been invited by law commissions for his suggestions on some of these laws. Recently, he represented India in International Conference on Men’s Issues (ICMI) and in this candid interview he discussed about the conference and spoke about future of global Men’s Rights Movement.]