| SPOUSE SCARE: A poster of Masti, a comedy in which three men were tormented by their wives
New Delhi, Oct. 26: A male backlash against the domestic violence act has begun even before the first man has been booked under the new law.
Save the Indian Family — a foundation of non-government organisations — today launched its campaign against the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act in earnest.
“This is nothing but terrorist activity by women’s organisations,” said Swarup Sarkar, a member of the foundation, which has also been protesting against the anti-dowry law saying it is heavily misused.
“I do not know how many Bhagat Singhs, Jatin Dases and Netajis will be born to stop this legal terrorism,” Sarkar said.
From today, all forms of violence at home — sexual, physical, verbal or economical — will be punishable under the law. The act, which brings marital rape into the ambit of domestic violence for the first time, ensures protection to not just the wife, but all women sharing a home with a man.
Sachit Dalal, who shares Sarkar’s scorn for such laws, has sent a message to the President, Prime Minister, members of Parliament and activists declaring that marriage has been “crucified”.
“Finally the women of India have successfully crucified the sacred institution of marriage. When IPC 498 A (anti-dowry law) was not enough to satisfy the modern sadists (women), they introduced the domestic violence bill in order to loot the husband and the family legally,” Dalal said.
The domestic violence bill was drawn up amid howls of protest from organisations like Save the Indian Family. Women spearheading the bill were labelled “modern Surpanakhas” and there was a constant barrage of attacks against the law posted on the Internet.
“I have also received such material,” said Jyotsna Chatterjee of the Joint Women’s Programme, which has been actively involved in drawing up the bill.
Welcoming the legislation, Chatterjee said: “Some people could have experienced the misuse of the anti-dowry law. But how much more have the women suffered'”
She pointed out that “recent studies have shown there has been no change in the way society perceives women. They still remain second-grade citizens”.
For Sarkar, Dalal and the cheerleaders of Save the Indian Family, the domestic violence act spells disaster for Indian women, many of whom do not earn and are not educated. They feel the law would lead to a spurt in divorce cases, and these women would be left in the lurch.
Their ire is not just directed at women, though. The men who “yield” to women in their family “deserve” what they get because they are “immature and bloody fools”, they say. On the list of “foolish things” are purchasing a house jointly with the wife to “save tax” and buying a car in the wife’s name to “please her”.
“So Indian men, get up and be prepared to go to jail,” Sarkar said.
A study conducted by the Centre for Women’s Development Studies in 2002 revealed that 45 per cent of Indian women are slapped, kicked and beaten by their husbands and 50 per cent are kicked and beaten during pregnancy. India has the highest rate of violence during pregnancy.
Among women facing domestic violence, 74.8 per cent had wanted to commit suicide.
But the statistics fail to move Dalal. He says the domestic violence act is worse than the anti-dowry law as it “gives ridiculous rights to women to loot their husbands and in-laws. Women call it gender equality. Some women are bold enough to blurt out that now it is the men’s turn to suffer.”