Bike rally to demand justice for 'mankind'

Men's Rights Association plans to submit memorandum to District Judge on Nov 19, wants setting up of men's welfare ministry and men's commission to address issues like misuse of domestic violence law.

The Men's Rights Association (MRA) from the city has decided to celebrate International Men's Day on November 19 with a bike rally from Shaniwar Wada to Shivajinagar court. The association plans to submit a memorandum to the District Judge at the end of the rally.

Band of brothers: Atit Rajpara (standing), president, Men's Rights
Association, at a recent meeting with activists to discuss preparations
for the International Men's Day on November 19. Pic/Vivek Sabnis

Welfare ministry
MRA activists are demanding a men's welfare ministry and men's commission to address the issue of injustice suffered by men in society. The association is now trying to obtain police clearance for the rally. Atit Rajpara, an IT professional who is the president of MRA, said: "International Men's Day is celebrated all over the world and we decided to celebrate this day in Pune as well because the time is right to raise our voice against the injustice done to men.

The rights of man: Atit Rajpara, president, Men's Rights Association, at
a meeting of activists at Sambhaji Park

We have received 250 complaints on our helpline in the last two-and-half months. Most of the complaints were about false dowry harassment charges and domestic violence cases. It is shocking, but instances of men getting sexually harassed are also on the rise and these cases do not even get reported."

Referring to last year's statistics from the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), Rajpara said: "It is shocking that 61,453 men have committed suicide compared to 31,754 women in 2010 over domestic issues. There is a clearl 400 per cent increase in the suicide rate among men compared to that among women. There are also the issue of misuse of Section 498 A of the IPC (dowry harassment against women) and the domestic violence law. These laws are blatantly misused against men."

Awareness needed
Pravin Gaikar, another MRA activist, revealed that it was important to create awareness about International Men's Day. "Men have been taken for granted for a long time. We have no rights. We want to create a support system for men who are exploited and face harassment," he said.

Not everyone agrees
There are those who do not agree with the MRA and pooh-pooh its demands. Geetali V R, editor of women's magazine Miloon Sarya Jani (the name in Marathi means 'we all together') and a noted feminist writer, said: "Nobody is denying that men are also victimised. But if you see the percentage, it is always the women who are suffering. The MRA should correctly interpret the misuse of the law instead of only blaming women." Mangala Samant, president, Women's Network, agreed with Geetali and said that mostly it was seen that women were the ones who were vulnerable in the social set-up.

"This organisation should not draw conclusions by the figures of suicides in society but rationally analyse the entire issue," she said. Mukund Kirtat, editor of Purush Spandan (translated as Male Sensibility) and a pro-feminist activist, said: "It is true that the male-dominated society also exploits men, as it does women. But men do play a dominant role in society and I am against asking for a separate commission or men's welfare ministry for men."

Permission hurdle for bike rally
THE MRA says it is not getting permission from the police for the planned bike rally on International Men's Day. "When activists supporting Anna Hazare's hunger strike can take out a bike rally, then whey not we, who are fighting for the rightful cause of men's rights in society?" said Atit Rajpara, president, MRA.

Film on misuse of domestic violence law
SHOOTING is currently underway for a Marathi film based on the misuse of the domestic violence law against men. Called Dhaage Dore, it is said to be the first film to tackle the issue. It is directed by Akshay Datt, who has earlier made a film on child abuse.

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