Nota pill mooted for domestic abuse of husbands

NGO demands national commission for men, cites 'rise in male suicides'

By Our Legal Correspondent
  • Published 11.09.18
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Source: Shutterstock

New Delhi: An NGO has urged the Centre to set up a national commission for men and exhorted all men to vote Nota (none of the above) in the next general election in protest at governments' and political parties' indifference towards their plight.

The Bangalore-headquartered Child Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (Crisp) claims there's a rise in male suicides because of domestic violence and the denial of child custody rights to fathers after divorce.

A statement released by Crisp president Kumar Jahgirdar on the occasion of World Suicide Prevention Day, which falls on September 10, says India has become the unofficial world suicide capital.

"We have been seeing (a) lot of fathers committing suicide since they are not able to meet their children, added to domestic violence at home," the statement says.

It says its objective is "to create awareness of the problems faced by men in general and with demands to defend their human rights as citizens of this country".

"Crisp is getting at least 30 phone calls every day from men who have been harassed and we find there is not much scope for addressing the problems legally due to gender biased (sic)," the statement says.

The NGO claims that scores of men commit suicide every year because of false cases filed against them under penal code sections 498A (cruelty by husband or in-laws) and 304B (dowry death).

It says the Supreme Court has described the abuse of these laws by unscrupulous women as "legal terrorism".

According to the NGO, when men commit suicide because of domestic abuse or their wives' threats to misuse anti-dowry laws, these are categorised as "family problems".

It cited National Crime Records Bureau data to say that of the 133,623 suicides reported in the country in 2015, some 91,528 (68 per cent) were by men. From this, Crisp concludes that most of the victims of domestic violence are men.

Some of the NGO's demands:

• A national commission for men in line with the National Commission for Women to register complaints lodged by men and take action against women who misuse laws or harass their husbands.

• A 24x7 helpline for distressed men at the police commissioner's office in every city.

• Passage of a bill in Parliament making shared parenting a must for children of separated or divorced couples, as recommended by the Law Commission.

• A guarantee by political parties to add men's welfare to their manifestos, failing which all men should vote Nota in the general election.

• Making domestic violence laws gender-neutral to allow harassed husbands to invoke them.

• Punishment for women who misuse domestic violence or dowry laws (Crisp says 27 lakh men went to jail mostly on false complaints between 1998 and 2015).

• Empowering police to register complaints against wives who assault husbands or threaten to abuse women-centric laws.

• A "national strategy for suicide prevention", like those implemented in 28 other countries.

• Allowing harassed men and boys to lodge online complaints with designated government agencies.