Editor’s note: This article is also available in Spanish.
I learned about A Voice for Men calling for someone to write about men’s issues in India. I decided to focus on Misandry, as in India it runs deep in the ancient culture of this land.
Most of contemporary India’s history originates from the story of King Shantanu from the epic Mah?bh?rata. The period is approximated at over 5000 years ago. King Shantanu married a beautiful woman, only after he agreed to her condition that he would never question any of her actions. Per the promise given he couldn’t question her, even when she killed 7 of their newborns one after the other. He tried to question her on the attempt to kill the eighth child and she left him for breaking his promise. The epic tries to justify her actions, but never bothers to think of the abuse of Shantanu, the man, as a father or as a husband. This follows even now. Indians are never made to think about the anguish in a man’s mind.
Starting from the concept of “Mother Nature” as elsewhere in many cultures, we also have terms like Mother Tongue and Motherland. Protectionism is bought easily by attributing the term ‘Mother’ to all things ephemeral. The role of protector is such a deep-rooted attitude for men that there is a ‘Protector Day’ celebrated every year in India. It is described as a bond between a brother and a sister, where the sister ties a decorated string around her brother and he vows to protect her, come what may, even if he has to do it with his life. The festival is called as Raksha Bandhan and the string is called Rakhee.
The tradition itself took root in the northern part of India which saw the ‘Red Age’ of constant invasions, wars and killings. The more dangerous the region, more is the need of protectors. So the Indian culture dressed the lives of men in the garb of veneration and glory as protectors.
It is no wonder that the same society which over-protected women and exploited men, is now crying hoarse over women not preferring to venture out as providers. This attribution of women’s reluctance to take up riskier tasks, is again being put forth as men’s responsibility and patriarchy.
In modern day India, all things developmental are considered due to encouraged participation of women in public life and all things bad and lethargic are due to patriarchy and the attitude of men. For feminists in India, “Patriarchy” is considered to be a virtue worth jettisoning, without giving up the women’s privileges that come with it. Indian feminism is caught up largely in the 1980s with help of increased funding from the West. There were a slew of laws created which haunt the Indian men to this date.
The first weapon feminists used, was a woman’s share in her paternal property, termed as “dowry”. India saw an increased reportage of bride-burning and dowry harassment cases in media. The cry was made shrill enough to drown any sane voice, if ever there was any. An anti-dowry harassment law, Section 498a of the IPC was created in 1983 which is draconian and most misused. It gives a woman complete power to get anyone from her husband’s family arrested. Then came the Dowry death law –Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code. It considers any unnatural death of a woman within 7 years of marriage as dowry death – meaning it assumes the husband and his relatives as guilty for her death and they are put behind bars immediately. There have been many other anti-men laws that have come up regularly.
Misandry in India, overall, can be gauged with the high number of suicides of men and crime against men:
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs – 62,433 married men and a total of 87,839 men committed suicide in 2011 — and this figure is increasing every year. The same bureau report shows that 92% of all crime happens against men and the society is still not even considering issues of men as a topic worth attention.
It is going to take a lot from us all men’s rights activists to expose the feminists and fight their funding and control over the public discourse, but we believe we shall prevail!
Featured image Wiki Commons: Ugrashravas narrating Mah?bh?rata before the sages gathered in Naimisha Forest