There are ample number of orgationsations, and NGOs who stand up against injustice and crimes against women. Well, there is nothing wrong in it because of the fact that we live in a patriarchial society where cows are safe but women are not. There are countless number of stories written on how women are the victim and we need strong laws to protect them. However, there are always two sides of the same coin. If women are victims to crime, men are too. Girls are raped, and harassed and killed every single day. But men are raped too. They too are victims of harassment. The proportion might be very less, but they are victims too. They also need to be protected. This often ignored issue was realized by a Gurugram based woman Deepika Narayan Bhardwaj.
“Are men not vulnerable? Do they not face discrimination? Can they not be victims?”, asks this 31-year-old woman.
What led Deepika to fight against injustice to men?
Deepika witnessed two marriages falling apart along with many controversies attached to it. She then decided to look into the matters. She was charged with false allegations in one of those marriages. Her cousin’s wife had lodged a complaint against her husband and accused Deepika too for tormenting her.
“In 2011, a cousin’s marriage fell apart within three months and his wife accused him and our entire family of beating her and demanding dowry from her. She filed a false case against us. I was also named as an accused, as someone who beat her and tortured her regularly,” she says.”
The case was closed after Bhardwaj family paid a huge sum of money to that so-called victim of marriage who had filed the case.
Battle against the Law:
And then she decided to make an end to this. She waged a war against the misuse of Section 498A of the IPC which was introduced in 1983 after the increased number of dowry deaths in India. It was meant to save women from dowry abuse. But this law has been misused by many women due to its rigidity and stereotype mindset of our society.
BBC quoted Deepika,
“It was a law made with very noble intentions. But a law that was made to save lives has taken many lives.The law has become a tool for extreme blackmail and extortion.”
Deepika has been trying hard to convince the authorities to make amendments in the law and make it more flexible so that it can’t be misused. She is doing this through her documentary “Martyrs of Marriages” in which she projected the other angle of crime and misuse of laws.
Deepika has been travelling across the country to put an end to this battle. People find it to odd to see a woman fighting for rights of men. But, she says,
“Just as you don’t have to be a woman to fight for women, similarly, you don’t have to be a man to fight for men. I don’t talk about atrocities against women because there are millions who are talking about it.”
Why This issue can’t be ignored?
As I mentioned earlier, the proportion of injustice against men might be much lower than the injustice against women. But we must remember that crime, injustice and stereotype needs to be stopped irrespective of gender.
Injustice to men can’t be ignored. Deepika says,
“You cannot deny it saying the number of such cases is small. In the past few years, thousands of people have reached out to me for help and I’ve referred them to the Save Indian Family. In Delhi, I’m told that 24% of calls to women’s helplines are from men in distress. Lives are being destroyed. People are killing themselves.”
Section 376 was introduced by the government as a tough new anti-rape law after the Nirbhaya Gangrape case, 2012. During her research, which began in 2012, she found out that many of the reports registered under the allegations of rape and sexual harrassment are false and are made after a consensual relationship has gone sour or to settle other disputes. Even Delhi Commission for Women had revealed that 53.2% of the rape cases filed between April 2013 and July 2014 were fake.
What is Deepika upto?
Deepika is planning to organize a screening of her documentary ‘Martyrs of Marriage’ for Indian Mps.
“I have shown the documentary to judges, police officials and magistrates, activists and general public, men and women impacted by the law. I have received a tremendous response from the viewers. Now I want to take it to the parliament, to lobby for a change in the law to stop its misuse.”
She has even given a TedX talk as she spoke about ‘Men: The Forgotten gender.’
Her journey is not easy:
This battle is not easy for Deepika. She is not only fighting against the system, but against the stereotypes too. Deepika is regularly trolled by so-called feminists and women rights activists who accuse her for fighting for wrong cause and is even labelled as “pimp for rapists.”
“Some feminists say it’s politically incorrect for me to fight for men, but I want justice for everyone, regardless of their gender. My work is not against women. My work is against injustice.”
It’s great to see her courage and will-power to fight against the stereotype without getting affected by negative comments on her. She has challenged the set norms of the society. We salute this lady for her battle.