NGOs demand separate ministry, panel to protect men`s rights

Last Updated: Sunday, January 12, 2014 - 11:34

Kolkata: A forum of NGOs working for men`s rights has demanded that the party forming government after the Lok Sabha polls create a separate ministry and a national commission for the protection of men`s rights in the wake of "misuse" of dowry laws and registration of "false" sexual harassment cases.

The National Coalition for Men (NCM), a coalition of about 50 organisations fighting for men`s rights, has released a 10-point charter of demands to be considered by political parties for the Lok Sabha election.

NCM said they wanted to highlight the increasing rate of "innocent married and unmarried men" falling prey to "gender biased" laws.

Besides a ministry and a commission for men, the NCM`s charter, named `Men-I-Festo`, included converting `gender biased laws` to gender neutral ones, forming a task force to probe suicide by married men and a helpline number for men in distress, NCM president Amit Gupta told a news agency.
Politicians, cutting across party lines, however, remained non-committal on these demands, it said.

"If political parties consider our demand its good, or we will make sure that a huge number of married and unmarried men who have suffered due to gender biased laws, boycott the Lok Sabha elections," Gupta said.

"We feel that formation of men`s ministry and men`s rights body will address the issues concerning men. Gender biased laws should be made gender neutral," NCM president Amit Gupta told a news agency.

"Men`s right are also human rights. Being pro-man will not make one anti-woman. But in India, men are on a legally barren land where they are assumed guilty until proved innocent," said D S Rao, president of NGO, Hridaya: Nest of Family Harmony, a constituent of the NCM.

NCM is a coalition spread across 50 cities of 20 states across India.
The Hridaya had conducted a survey last year that showed
that a married man commits suicide every nine minutes in India due to misuse of Section 498A of IPC (dowry law) against them, taking the toll to around 64,000 every year, Rao said.

As per Section 498A, the husband of a woman or his relative who subjects her to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of up to to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

Gupta said this non-bailable section in which the police could arrest the accused immediately, was heavily loaded against the husband. The `husband` should be replaced in the law by `spouse` as the wife was also capable of subject her husband to cruelty, he said.

When political parties like Congress, BJP, Trinamool Congress and CPI(M) were approached on NCM`s demands, they remained non-committal.

"We are in favour of gender neutrality, we are against any kind of gender, caste and community bias. However, I am not in a position to comment on their demands," senior Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed said.

"If the NGO approaches BJP, then these issues will be discussed and decided by the committee, which will decide on the election manifesto," BJP leader Siddharth Nath Singh said.

 "The Lok Sabha manifesto has not yet been prepared. We are yet to discuss the issues," said Trinamool Congress MP Sultan Ahmed.

 CPI(M) leader Mohammed Salim said if the NGO places the demand before the party, then it would decide on the matter.

 Gupta said they might also form a political party and fight exclusively on the issue of men`s rights.

PTI

First Published: Sunday, January 12, 2014 - 11:34

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