Men are persecuted at every level, says founder of men's rights organisation

Even as Women’s Day celebrations continue, founder of a men’s rights organisation speaks about gender equality and laws, which he feels are skewed in favour of women

Even as International Women’s Day was marked yesterday and the party continues this weekend, Vaastav founder Amit Deshpande (Vaastav is an umbrella body of men’s rights organisations), says that International Men’s Day, marked on November 19 does not have the visibility or marketing acumen of Women’s Day, “but is growing in significance every year.”  

VOICE CHOICE: Marking International Men’s Day 2013 at the CST

Dombivli-based instrumentation engineer Deshpande states that Vaastav was launched on November 19, 2013, for the different men’s rights groups in Mumbai, the Indian Family Foundation, Borivli; Protect Indian Family Foundation, Mulund; MASHAAL (Mothers And Sisters of Husbands Against Abuse of Law).

AWARENESS: It is about another point of view

Though Vaastav has men’s rights groups under its wing, it is also an avenue for certain women’s forums such as the All India Mother-in-law Protection Forum, where women jailed in false dowry harassment cases and in false domestic violence cases have nowhere to go.

AN UNEQUAL MUSIC? Amit Deshpande

In an atmosphere charged with anger over the spate of sexual harassment cases towards women, Deshpande put the focus on false rape cases, which he says, “are being filed with impunity by some women. False sexual harassment cases affects the women of the wrongly accused as well. This is not women empowerment, but only empowerment of unscrupulous elements,” says the angry engineer with conviction.

VISIBILITY: The group made its presence felt at the Mumbai marathon 2014 

Excerpts from an interview:
Q. What are the most common complaints your organisation receives?
A. The maximum cases we get are about false dowry harassment and false domestic violence cases. Recently, there has also been a surge in the number of false cases of sexual harassment at workplace. Many men complain of facing abusive marriages, wherein the wife subjects them to domestic violence.

Q. Generally, what is the social strata of the male complainants?
A. There is no general pattern for these cases. People from all sections of society are affected.

Q. What do you do to help these people?
A. Once a case is filed, the biggest problem a man faces is that everyone looks at him with suspicion, he is persecuted at every level of the society — police, judiciary, media. Men need to be heard without judgement. We only provide them with emotional strength to fight the false cases.

Q. Do authorities/police listen to these complaints? Do victims find it difficult to get the police to file an FIR?
A. There is no law under which a man can report an incidence of domestic violence perpetrated by his wife. Usually, victims face ridicule and ostracisation at police stations. If at all the complaint is accepted, it is reported as a non-cognisable offence (NC).

Q. In Indian society, except in a few cases, it is still very much a man’s world...
A. Indian society always had the equilibrium for men and women. If women played the role of caretakers, men played the role of protectors/ providers. In case of natural calamities or wars, it was always assumed that men would protect women and children at all costs. In patriarchy men had economic dominance, but women had emotional dominance. If a woman tied a string around a man’s wrist and called him her brother, she would get a protector for herself who was supposed to give his life for her safety. It never was only a man’s world as it is made out to be.

Q. Men are raping and molesting women, women are not harassing men...
A. It is a myth that women are not harassing men. Men get raped and sexually harassed, groped just as women do. We, as a society, need to wake up to reality. On December 4, 2012, the Cabinet cleared the Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2010 which had made rape gender-neutral which means rape victims as well as perpetrators could be men or women. The Delhi rape case happened and the government brought the ordinance for rape law which still kept rape gender neutral. Later, some organisations protested and forced the government to make rape law gender biased.

Q. What about the Delhi rape case?
A. We sympathise with victims of all genders and all crimes, but we need to understand that most rape cases are sexual liaisons gone awry. If a couple has intercourse before marriage and the boy breaks the relationship then the female can file a rape case, which happens in most cases of rape complaints. This is also how in 98 per cent of the rape cases, the perpetrator is known to the victim.

Q. The Shakti Mills case?
A. Our society progresses upon creating competition between men. A man is judged by his manhood by being a protector/provider which he has to prove to be accepted as a real man. This concept also creates the ‘waste’ of the society who lose out in this competition. Such people live on the fringes of society and have their own dark alleys. The tea-vendor outside Shakti Mills said he is selling tea since past 15 years there but never had the courage to enter inside. This tells us that there are certain areas which are out of reach for both men and women. Until we stop measuring men based upon their achievements only, unfortunately such alleys will continue to exist. Shakti Mills case was one such incident.

Q. We still have a way to go before men and women are considered equals — gender statistics show this...
A. I disagree, which statistics show this? Every year, twice as many men commit suicide in India as compared to women. In our cities, more females are graduating from universities as compared to males. In industrial hazardous risks, it is 100 per cent  male exposure. I can provide sources for all this data. The future is about gender equality in the true sense. It no longer can be accepted that one section keeps the rights and the other keeps responsibilities. It has to be divided equally.

  • Nilesh10-Mar-2014

    Thanks to the Mid-day news editor and the person who covered this issue. Thanks a ton to Amit Deshpande for bringing the most ignored issue of young men and the other women who are moms and sisters of the victimised husbands.

  • Neeraj11-Mar-2014

    Thank you so much Mid-Day for coming out with such a wonderful article. It is we men who are let down in society today due to nuisance of all forms by females. It is time we have gender neutral laws and government listens to the agony of men and their families and makes 'Mens Commission'. Excellent interview Amit Deshpande. God Bless You.

  • Neena09-Mar-2014

    A very good article come out on women's day

  • Dean Esmay10-Mar-2014

    Thank you Amit for your courage and your common sense. And thanks to for printing this!

  • abhishek17-Mar-2016

    Nice words Amit. May you keep fighting your cause till the day the need to fight is there. :) I and many can disagree with you on many points, but your work got it's own importance in your society.

  • Hussein Ali Abbaszadeh10-Mar-2014

    Things are Changing for the better... Happy to see that Vaastav Foundation is talking about Men's Right in today's biased times where it is consider a taboo to talk and consider about Men as Human Beings. Men nowadays are only mere objects of hatred & toys in hands of gender biased Laws and vendetta seeking women. In a age where everything and anything that matters is only Women and their issues ... Vaastav Foundation strikes to stand out against the tide ..standing for Men's Human Rights. Kudos

  • Praveen09-Mar-2014

    Hey Amit, Appreciating your initiative, Just Go for it and best of luck from me and other male from society.We are there with you. If we just concentrate on women empowerment all the equation in society would become unstable.

  • Naren09-Mar-2014

    Excellent article... We just fired 2 women in my office for incompetence... the number one thought in my mind was what if these useless women filed sexual harassment cases... I did not such thing, but immediately, the TRP hungry media would have jumped at the opportunity, FIRs filed, etc and I would have spent the rest of my life explaining myself... what sort of shitass country is this?? To clarify my position, I believe rapists should be castrated publicly... My support to your group...

  • Praveen09-Mar-2014

    Hey Amit, Appreciating your initiative, Just Go for it and best of luck from me and other male from society.We are there with you. If we just concentrate on women empowerment all the equation in society would become unstable.

  • Jayesh Devendra Chande10-Mar-2014

    Great News especially on a Women's day wherein the Men's are totally ignored by Politicians for their vote bank!!

  • Amarjeet Rathore09-Mar-2014

    Vwry pertinent point raised by Amit. This is true that Men dont have law of land to even register a harrasment against him forget getting justice in case of false harassment. High time for society and law makers to rethink on the points raised by this young man.

  • Santosh09-Mar-2014

    A very needed initiative by Amit Deshpande supporting female relatives of husbands. Our secular society is yet to accept that even Men can be tortured mentally or physically. Laws like 498a or DV etc focuses only on women as a daughter in law but ignores women relatives of husbands who are trapped in such cases. I believe with such false laws some group of people (within India or outside) want to attack the moral of our country and weaken us. Respect Men.

  • setu09-Mar-2014

    i entirely agree with views of mr. amit deshpande. Laws shall be gender neutral as prevails in other countries. one must draw experience of other geographies and adapt it to indian conditions with due condiderations. Gone are days when women were not so strong.

  • abhimanyu10-Mar-2014

    Great to know that Men's rights are finally being taken up. And more than your RIHGTS, its about the FALSE accusastions that Men need a freedom from. Domestic violence, dowry harrassment, Rape, Sexual Harassment at workeplace, all these rules are being severly misused by poeple with an evil mind. Every man wants real justice for the REAL victims of all such henious crimes, but the persecuation of 10 innocent men for every real criminal is just not justified.

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