Gender Equality should also include Men!

Whenever the term GENDER EQUALITY is used, it is presumed that we are talking about equality towards women but there is no mention of the equality towards men. The belief that it is always the fault of the man or the stigma of the society around the way a man should be plays a major part of why men are not comfortable to admit being the victim. In India, there are many laws formulated to provide protection to women from offences like rape, stalking, harassment at work and public, domestic violence. It is true that crimes against women are increasing at an alarming rate; however there are many instances where the complaints filed by the women are false as they wrongly accuse the men just for their own interest and revenge.

 However, there are times when men are the ones who are the victims of such crimes but due to the perception of the society that ‘men are supposed to be brave’ or that ‘men are the ones who commit the crime´ stops a man to come out in the open to admit to the wrong being done to him. The men fear that they might be falsely accused for revenge or for extorting money, sometimes the family of the male victim or the victim themselves fails to accept the abuse done to them, and the fear of being judged by the society silences the male victim to come out and register the complaint for the offence against them, resulting in them committing suicide or being depressed.

Under section 113b of the Indian Evidence Act,  if a women dies of bodily injury or burns on the body within the 7 years of her marriage, it is assumed by the court that the husband and his family is behind the cause of her death. Under section 498A (law against dowry) of the Indian Penal Code, if the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman subject the woman to cause injury (whether physically or mentally) shall be liable imprisonment for a term which may be extended to 3 years and also be liable for fine.

Many cases filed under these laws were found out to be false as the wife would wrongly accuse the husband or his family out of revenge. Many of the domestic violence cases filed against men are also false and many a times, men are the ones who are the victims of the domestic violence. As there is no requirement for the women to present any evidence, they sometimes misuse the laws that are formed for their protection to harass men as the onus lies on the men to provide any evidence to prove their innocence.

Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code clearly mentions that rape is an offence only a man can commit to a woman. However, there is no mention that a woman can also commit the offence of rape to a man. A Delhi based Centre for Civil Society found that approximately 18% of the Indian adult men reported being coerced or forced to have sexual intercourse, out of which 16% were by a female offender and 2% by male offender.

The need of the hour is for the society to acknowledge that a man can be a victim too and that the gender equality should also include equality for men. There is also a need for the legislation to formulate laws that are gender neutral in nature. It is also very important that laws made for the protection of women are not misused by them as it can leave a bad impact on the mental health of the person who has been falsely accused. Laws for domestic violence, sexual harassment, rape, stalking etc should be made gender neutral i.e. the victim can be either a male or a female. We, as the youth should also make a motive to urge the men to come out and speak about the abuse they have faced and also to make the people aware about the gender equality for men too!

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