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Harassment on men

Men Can Be Victims, Too

Yes, men are also victims of harassment. many of us think it’s a myth, how can men be harassed when they are the main reason for harassment against women. In my article, I am going to explain harassment faced by men.

Introduction
We do not realize that harassment can happen to anyone despite age, gender identity, religion, and attitude. The attention on harassment towards men is not as much attention shown towards women.

In the Indian constitution, under article 14 right to equality is mentioned, but issues related to men are not given enough recognition as compared to issues related to women.
For example, we can take into account, that there are many sections under the Indian penal code such as section 354, 376, and 509 which are made for the protection of women.

Section 354 mentions  Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty.—Whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any woman, intending to outrage or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby outrage her modesty, shall be punished with impris­onment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.[2]

Section 376 mentions the punishment for rape  Whoever, except in the cases provided for by sub-section (2), commits rape shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may be for life or for a term which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine unless the women raped is his own wife and is not under twelve years of age, in which cases, he shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years or with fine or with both: Provided that the court may, for adequate and special reasons to be mentioned in the judgment, impose a sentence of imprisonment for a term of less than seven years.[3]

Section 509 mentions  Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman.—Whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any word, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen, by such woman, or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.[4]

So, these sections justify sexual harassment against women and the remedies when harassment takes place. These sections also define the procedure to take into action when such an incident takes place. All these sections talk about women and there is no mention of men and solutions for these issues.

The only section where its mentioned about men is section 377 of Indian penal code which mention  Unnatural offences.—Whoever voluntarily has carnal inter­course against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with impris­onment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Explanation: Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offense described in this section.

This clearly show harassment legislation in its present form makes all men unequal to all women. If the legislation, only considers women issues and not men issues, it will be a total violation of article 14[5]. Hence, there must be equal justice serviced for both men and women.

Harassment At The Workplace

The sexual harassment act[6] for workplace lays down principles, rules, and remedies for women who are sexually harassed at the workplace. This act was specifically made for women. but there is no remedy given for men if they are sexually harnessed at the workplace. Even the Vishaka Guidelines are laid down for women and not for men. When we hear the phrase sexual harassment at workplace we generally assume it is related to sexual harassment against women. Laws have been brought up to protect women, but we do not release that even men get harassed at their workplace.

Yes, they do. We do not know or realize that such things take place in our society because no one talks or spreads awareness on such matters. Usually, victims of such harassment don’t report or file claims because of reasons like not being understood or being unable to share freely because of the stigma that gets formed. Men are considered as mards in India and the fear of getting taunted, insulted, and mocked by their coworkers. Many might wonder how this can happen, a man being sexually harassed by a woman is deemed so unlikely that they almost think its bluff and that cannot be true, they think it’s a myth.

There are barely any cases that have been filed and reported on sexual harassment on men in India but with growing technology and growing education with global access to information, people are coming out of their Shell's and coming to a better understanding that talking about their experiences is not only going to uncover the tragedy but also is going to set them free emotionally, physically and mentally.

We can take the movements like #meetoo and #timesup as great examples, where men gathered up the courage to come and speak out against the unfair things that happened to them. It's movements like these that inspired courage in a lot of other people which statistically showed an increase of 18% in filling reports of sexual harassment at the workplace on men.

According to a survey conducted by economic times called Synovate survey, it was found 19% of the 527 men surveyed in several metros of the country claimed they had faced sexual harassment. According to the survey, 51% of the 527 men surveyed in several metros of the country claimed that they had faced sexual harassment at work. There was a similar survey conducted by a company called Viacom 18 in 2013 in which it was found that almost 43 percent of male corporate professionals were victims of sexual harassment by their colleagues.[7]

As a country, our judicial system works a lot to protect women, while that is a great feat, we are also not supposed to completely neglect the problems faced by men. Its high time we bring in the concept of equality even in this matter and eradicate gender-biased laws. Equal importance should be put into this matter and work more for the protection of men’s rights at the workplace.

Harassment Based On The Misuse Of Sec 498A

Sexual orientation segregation is biased against men. Specifically, Section 498A, the demonstration that condemns remorselessness against ladies by spouse and his family members, has been at the focal point of much debate. Men's privileges activists, for example, the Spare the family establishment in India contend that the law is frequently abused by ladies.

Basing upon a 2012 report on Section 498A from the Government of India, it was found that the observational examination didn't set up any unbalanced abuse of Section 498A when contrasted with other criminal laws. However abuse of Section 498A was not set up, more as of late the Supreme Court came out with orders that each protest got by the police under Section 498A must be alluded to a Family Welfare Committee before the police can capture the culprit.

All the more incredible, the law just offers relief to ladies. Men in India can't profit from a comparative lawful solution for shielding themselves from abusive behavior at home from either men or ladies. For men, even a straightforward help of having a male or female assailant avoid them (a limiting or insurance request) isn't managed by the current law.

In 2016, this segregation was evacuated by the preeminent court itself. The seat of Justices Kurian Joseph and Rohinton F Nariman controlled on 6 October 2016 (Thursday) that this arrangement disappointed the target of the enactment since culprits and abettors of aggressive behavior at home can be ladies as well. The words  grown-up male  or adult male has been struck down from the aggressive behavior at the home act.

A thirty years old man, Pushkar Singh, resident of Jankipuram Sector C, Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh), committed suicide because of the harassment by his wife. In his suicide letter, he stated I was sent to jail after a false dowry case was lodged against me by Vinita and her family, who had demanded Rs 14 lakh as compensation. Neither my father nor I had seen such a big amount in our lives. We even sold our house to contest the case. To which he further added I would also like to request Vinita not to harass my family in future. It was my mistake to marry her and I am repenting it by sacrificing my life.[8]

A forty-one-year-old man, Rakesh Sheth, who was found dead in Gujarat stated in his suicide letter that:
If I die, my wife will like it, and he also added Henceforth my wife can lead a carefree life. My mother-in-law and father-in-law worship wealth. They do not care about human life. So, I am ending my life.[9] This man was harassed by his wife and mother in law within six months of his marriage. He took his own life when he could not withstand it anymore.

These are few of those cases which came into light out of all those false cases and harassment cases against men.

It is assumed that the accused is innocent until he is proved guilty for his doings under the eyes of the law. The prosecution comes in position to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Then the defendant comes to defend the charges against him and disapproves of the allegations made. This the general procedure followed at the courts of law but because of the strictness of laws and gender-biased laws, when a woman files a fir for a matrimonial dispute, the moment fir is filed, the husband and his relatives are taken into custody for investigation and the burden of proof lies on the husband to prove the allegation filed on him is false and he has not committed anything. If he is not able to prove he should be ready to face the procedure that will be taken into account by the court.

Under the case, Arnesh Kumar v. the State of Bihar[10], the wife claimed she was demanded dowry and as she could not fulfill the demand she was thrown out of her matrimonial house. Where the husband and his family were taken into custody including his aged grandparents. Under this case, the Court laid down some guidelines that should be followed by the police officer while arresting under Section 498A IPC, or Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, and that such arrest must be based on a reasonable satisfaction concerning the genuineness of the allegation. Moreover, even the Magistrates must be careful enough not to authorize detention casually and mechanically.

Under the case, Sushil Kumar Sharma v. Union of India[11] which is one of the historical cases, the supreme court held sec 498A as legal terrorism. These amendments were bought in 1985, for the protection of women against dowry harassment and to empower women about the bad consequences related to dowry. This is was one of the best steps taken by the government of India and up to an extent they have been successful. But the strictness of law was taken into an advantage by the women to file false cases against their husbands to fulfill their demands.

It is very sorrowful to see that the law made to protect the rights of women are being misused for their own advantages. In many cases, parents force the women to get married and due to this constant pressure, the woman gets married and when she realizes she cannot survive anymore in the marriage and wants to go back to her parental house, she misuses the laws linked with dowry demand. And because of the strictness of the law, the men get accused falsely, that is why the law should not be gender- biased and should provide both the parties equal arrangement to resolve the matter. If this does not happen the men will be deprived of his right to live dignity in a country like India.

Cruelty Against Men

The definition of cruelty differs from case to case as the judge has to take into consideration the mental distress, the injuries faced, complaints and taunts, and many more things. The cruelty definition is subjective and there is no exact definition for the formula of cruelty. Cruelty in one case may not be cruelty in other cases.

Case laws which constitute the grounds of cruelty against husbands in India:

  1. Kalpana v/s Surendra Nath[12], both the parties were married and lived together for one and a half months. The allegations filed against the appellant was that she humiliated the respondent in from of his friend by refusing to give tea to them. By the appellant's wish the respondent, joined her in college for further studied and one day she went to college and never came back. And she had filed a case against her husband under the dowry prohibition act. The courts accepted the respondent’s version and held Refusal of contribution in the household work amounts to cruelty
     
  2. Satya v/s Siri Ram[13], in this case, the wife terminated her pregnancy twice without the consent or informing her husband. So, the court held that If a wife deliberately and consistently refuses to satisfy her husband's natural and legitimate craving to have children, and the deprivation reduces him to despair and affects his mental health, the wife is guilty of cruelty.
     
  3. Anil Bhardwaj vs Nirmlesh Bhardwaj[14], both the parties were married on 31-1-1979 after their marriage the wife used to not do any household chores, and when asked she said she was not used to doing household chores. Even then the husband did not bother. When the husband went to his in-law's house, the recommended him so stay separately with his wife from his family. But he did not accept this and because of this, they did allow him to have sexual intercourse with her. During there stay together she never allowed him for sexual intercourse and when he attempted, she used to become furious. The court held that Denial for a physical relationship without sufficient reasons also amounts to cruelty.
     
  4. Prem Chandra Pandey vs Smt. Savitri Pandey [15], the wife has filed a false case on the husband and his family, that they demanded dowry before the marriage and after marriage. The demands were not fulfilled by the wife's father so they tortured her. and she alleged a fake allegation that he has a marriage with another woman and again married only to fulfill his satisfaction demands. All these allegations were proved wrong. Hence the court held false allegations of adultery amounts to cruelty.
     
  5. Narendra v. K. Meena,[16] the husband was consistently being compelled by his wife to live separate from his family members but in the family, he was the only person earing and who used to maintain the family. While the main interest of the wife was to spend the husband’s whole income. She also made a fake allegation on the husband of him having an external affair with their maid. She also attempted to commit suicide without any reasonable ground by burning herself after pouring kerosene oil.
Taking in consideration of the law fixed in Pankaj Mahajan v. Dimple @ Kajal[17] and Vijaykumar Ramchandra Bhate v. Neela Vijaykumar Bhate,[18] the bench, comprising of Justice Anil R. Dave and Justice L. Nageshwara Rao, On Oct. 06, 2016, held that such continuous pressure on the husband to separate him from his family by his wife is considered to be the cruelty because firstly, in Indian society and ethics, son maintaining his parents is very normal and secondly, in the Hindu society, it is a pious obligation of the son to maintain the parents.

Other instances of cruelty may also include threats of suicide, fake allegations of an extramarital affair, looking for second marriage before getting a divorce, harassing the husband for sending money to her parental house, breaking mangal sutra before her husband and his relatives, behaving aggressively and uncontrollably, spreading false harassment stories on her by defaming her in-laws, threatens to leave the martial house, filing fake FIR of harassment.

Domestic violence against men data

Surveys conducted by Save Family Foundation and My Nation Foundation, between April 2005 and April 2015 surveyed almost 1,00,000 men during that one year over the internet. From which the found out that About 98.2% of men had faced serious domestic violence from their wives and in-laws. physical, verbal, economical, sexual, mental, emotional, and financial abuse are the violence that men face.

The order of violence based on the affected men:

  1. 34.3% of men were affected by economic violence.
  2. 28.6% of men were affected by physical violence,
  3. 27.5% of men were affected by emotional violence
  4. 20.4% of men were affected by sexual violence.
  5. the lowest violence that all the men surveyed faced was verbal abuse.

Conclusion
There should be laws made under the Indian penal code to protect men against harassment. And men should also be added to the sexual harassment at the workplace act 1860. We all should know that harassment has the same impact as anyone it might be a male or female. Female harassment is indeed more, but we cannot ignore or unseen the fact that men also get harassed. People should the same kind of interest in men's harassment matters.

Awareness should be spread that its ok to speak up about the harassment happening against them. There should be more NGOs, help centers and movements to help the men who face harassment. Even if laws are bought up, society should go in hand with the government to bring in light the matters of men's harassment. Men victims should also be given equal justice to the law.

References:
  1. https://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/208201/10/8_%20chapter%205.pdf
  2. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/Tortured-by-wife-man-ends-life/articleshow/2869976.cms
  3. https://www.lawyersclubindia.com/forum/suicide-by-men-due-to-false-dowry-cases-4667.asp
  4. https://www.ungender.in/why-india-inc-needs-to-protect-men-against-sexual-harassment-at-workplaces-in-india-case-for-gender-neutral-policies/

End-Notes:
  1. IFIM LAW SCHOOL, 5th semester, 3rd year
  2. Indian penal code, section 354,1860
  3. Indian penal code, section 376, 1860
  4. Indian penal code, section 509, 1860
  5. INDIA CONST. art. 14,1950
  6. Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013
  7. Karan Arora, Why India Inc. needs to protect Men against Sexual Harassment at Workplaces in India- case for gender neutral policies (nov.18, 2019), https://www.ungender.in/why-india-inc-needs-to-protect-men-against-sexual-harassment-at-workplaces-in-india-case-for-gender-neutral-policies/
  8. Rajesh Kumar, suicide by men due to false dowry cases
    (march 13,2009) https://www.lawyersclubindia.com/forum/suicide-by-men-due-to-false-dowry-cases-4667.asp
  9. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/Tortured-by-wife-man-ends-life/articleshow/2869976.cms
  10. (2014) (8) SCC 273
  11. (2005) (6) SC 266
  12. AIR 1985 All 253
  13. AIR 1983 P H 252
  14. AIR 1987 Delhi 111, ILR 1986 Delhi 383
  15. 1998 (3) AWC 1903, II (1998) DMC 446
  16. 2016 (5) Recent Apex Judgments (R.A.J.) 664: 2016 (4) R.C.R. (Civil) 706 (9) JT 564: 2016 (3) DMC 429: 2016 (9) Scale 681.
  17. (2011) 12 SCC 1
  18. 2003 (6) SCC 334
Written By: Anguluri Yogeetha Sai

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