The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Violence bill backlash

New Delhi, Sept. 12: The men are angry. The bill to protect women from domestic violence ' passed in the last Parliament session ' has provoked a male backlash from various quarters.

The legislation, according to a section of men, is “another step to kill the Indian institution of marriage”. The enraged men are hurling brickbats at women’s bodies, feminists, and Supreme Court lawyer Indira Jai Singh in particular, for advocating the bill they fear will strike at the “the institution of marriage”.

The bill makes any form of violence ' physical, mental or economic ' an offence. The men do not want an expansive definition and they are retaliating with their projections of what they apprehend the bill would lead to in future.

In a posting on the web, Swarup Sarkar says: “We wonder if our women’s organisations are concerned about the modern Sita or if they want to promote modern Surpanakhas and Ravanas'”

A host of NGOs ' Pariwarik Suraksha Sanstha, Save the Institution of Marriage, Forum of Battered Husbands and Save the Indian Family ' are posting messages on the web. Their credo: “Say no to feminism and to the domestic violence bill.”

There are various examples of how women can misuse the bill. Sarkar says, a woman can take her husband to court if she wants Rs 1,000 from him for a kitty party but gets only Rs 800. “Your wife can complain against you. This is an economic abuse.” But Asmita Basu, an activist, does not believe women will take their partners to court on trivial grounds. “We should remember we are not a litigational country,” she says.

Domestic violence was made a criminal offence in 1983 under Section 498 A in the IPC. It deals with cruelty by a husband and his family towards a married woman.

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