Bangalore is known as silicon valley of India. Within couple of miles from my house, there are numerous multinational software companies starting from IBM, Microsoft, Oracle to Intel and Accenture. The guys working in these companies earn a lot of foreign exchange for India, which keeps this predominantly poor country running and helps it buy crude oil. Recently, the Indian Rupee crashed 30% against US dollar creating panic all around and then recovered slightly. Bangalore contributes to 33% of India’s software exports or 22 Billion US dollars. In spite of this, the Indian Government loves to harass and torture the young men working in these multinational companies by using false dowry cases. The police often goes to these companies to arrest the men, on a mere complaint by wife without conducting any investigation or collecting any evidences.
Till now, the Indian men’s rights movement runs predominantly by the steam provided by the men facing abuse and false cases by wives, though a few men anticipating false rape cases from their girlfriends have also started approaching us now. The Indian legal system is almost dysfunctional which takes couple years for the trial to start mostly due to huge number of pending cases. The Indian lawyers rarely provide reliable service to men. So, many men decide to learn the laws themselves so that their lawyers can not take them for a ride. Many of these men prepare their own legal strategies, as lawyers almost always use fixed templates, which often damage cases of litigants.
Last month, the Confidare Men’s Rights Community Center at Bangalore conducted a legal seminar for Men facing marital disputes. 15 men participated and it was conducted by noted men’s activist Virag Dhulia. The topics included the various laws related to marriage, the domestic violence laws and the criminal laws like dowry laws and section 498a of Indian Penal Code. A few details about criminal procedure Codes and civil procedure codes were also covered. The behaviour of the courts and police in different scenarios were explained. A reputed lawyer from Bangalore High Court (equivalent to Supreme Court of a State in USA) was also invited to answer a few queries of the participants. The fees for the seminar were 498 India Rupees, which is about 8 USD. If we use purchase power parity, it can be a fee about 30 USD in USA. The figure of 498 was used instead of 500, because 498 is synonymous with India’s notorious law Section 498a or the law against cruelty to wives. Any man, his parents and siblings accused of this cruelty are presumed guilty until proven innocent. This law is actually an addition to India’s law against dowry demand by husbands and husband’s parents. Last year, more than 120,000 cases of section 498a were filed in India. This law is designed specifically for facilitating blackmail and extortion of husbands and their parents.
As India is a predominantly conservative country, when a marriage breaks the society almost always blames the man. The angry parents of the woman then try to file a couple of false cases on him, which we MRAs call as “The Package”. A typical package consists of criminal cases of cruelty against wife or section 498a dowry harassment case under dowry prohibition act. This is followed by similar allegations with demands for compensation and restraining orders under the civil domestic violence act. Then, the woman goes to a family court to seek maintenance or alimony. So, a typical package contains 3 cases in three different courts. The man and his family have to apply for bails in the criminal cases. Often, the trial of criminal cases and also family court cases take 5 to 6 years. The men lose a lot of money and time running around courts for all these days. They mainly have to go to each court date just for showing their attendance to the judges. It gets worse if the wife moves to a different city or a city where her parents live and files the cases there.
One way men can escape from these long drawn court battles is by negotiating an out of court settlement with wife. However, most women seek pound of flesh here. Its not surprising to see a woman demanding huge alimony, which is many times more than the income of the husband for the duration of marriage. Often, women also expect money or property from in-laws, as culturally the family of the husband is expected to be responsible for providing for the woman. So, if the parents of a man have 2 houses and 10 acres of agricultural land, the wife may demand one house for herself or half of the agricultural property, even when the duration of marriage is just 2 or 3 years. If the husband and his parents do not comply to these extortionist demands, then they risk criminal cases of cruelty to woman and false dowry harassment cases.
The lawyers and police often seek a piece of the pie for themselves in that out of court settlement amount, as the entire system is highly corrupt and insensitive. So, either men and their parents give in to extortion or they choose to get ready to fight a bitter court battle. The MHRAs generally suggest men to fight their way out rather than surrendering to the extortion process facilitated by law enforcement and the court system. So, the men who learn about the laws, and read citations and judgments, get empowered to fight back in the court system. Then, the slow dysfunctional system extracts a price from the women as well.
Nowadays, a lot of men are suing their wives for perjury, often defying the advice of their own lawyers. The lawyers generally do not try to fight aggressively for their male clients, as they do not wish to annoy the judges by being pro-male. In Indian family courts, a man can represent himself without employing a lawyer.
The legal awareness seminars help men learn the whole life cycle of marital problems and court battles that last from a year to almost a decade. If a man has high Legal Quotient, he will most likely reduce his lawyer fees, his financial losses, any risks to his health, and is likely to be much more peaceful being free from all confusion and uncertainties. He is also less likely to panic and he will not give in to all the stress that he is subjected to by police or courts during his marital problems.
Recently in Bangalore, a Software Engineer stabbed his wife 49 times killing her, and then committed suicide by jumping from 13th floor of his apartment. If such men approach MHRAs, these unfortunate incidents could have been avoided. Sadly, men themselves live in denial of men’s issues in India and most do not seek help until it is too late. Bangalore has a population of 9 million people who live in about 500 square miles of area, which tells us there are potentially hundreds of thousands of men in need of help.