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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Do gender biased laws in India actually benefit women?

IPC section 498a was originally designed to protect married women
from being harassed or subjected to cruelty by husbands and/or their
relatives. This law was mainly aimed at curbing dowry harassment.
Unfortunately, this law has been misused to harass men and their
families rather than protect genuine female victims of harassment.
The Supreme Court of India itself has labeled the misuse of section
498a as "legal terrorism" and stated that "many instances have come
to light where the complaints are not bona fide and have been filed
with an oblique motive. In such cases, acquittal of the accused does
not wipe out the ignominy suffered during and prior to the trial.
Sometimes adverse media coverage adds to the misery. " In agreement
with the above statement, the findings of a study conducted by The
Center for Social Research indicated that 98 percent of the cases
filed under IPC section 498a are false. Nevertheless, the law has
been always justified based on its intention of protecting women. At
this point it would be worthwhile to think about how IPC section 498a
has really affected women.

It has been argued by Government officials favoring the law that
despite the establishment of legal measures to counter harassment of
married women, there is an increase in the number of cases of
harassment. The first part of the statement suggests that women who
are harassed should be utilizing this law as a means of protection.
If harassed women indeed used the law then we should see a decrease
in the number of cases of harassment over time. Considering the
stringent consequences imposed by the law and the inordinate delays
inherent in the legal system, no ordinary citizen, male or female,
would be impudent enough to risk being implicated under this law for
the sake of satisfying their monetary or even sadistic desires for
that matter.

The fact is that many women who are actually beaten up and harassed
by their husbands and in-laws rarely file 498a or resort to other
dowry related laws. A lot of them live in rural areas, unaware of the
law or lack the necessary economic and moral support from their natal
families. Going by the conviction rate the proportion of women who
have genuine cases is 2%. Most women who file 498a are from urban
backgrounds and are either capable of fending for themselves or have
enough family support to fall back on. The proportion of women who
belong to this category is 98%. In the 98% of false cases, in every
instance that 1 daughter-in-law files a false complaint at least 2
women (an innocent mother-in-law and sister-in-law) are arrested and
undergo stress, humiliation and harassment in the hands of the
exploitative police, lawyers, staff and officials in Indian courts
before being acquitted several years later. So, in every 100 cases 2
women genuinely benefit, 98 women get away with perjury and
extortion, and at least 196 women suffer needlessly.

The number of cases that are filed in police stations or courts are
the basis for the official statistics of dowry harassment. So, given
that the law allows women unlimited scope to fabricate lies (with no
penalty of perjury) and given that women are encouraged to keep
filing false cases the statistics of "dowry harassment" are bound to
rise while the problem of genuine harassment is left unchecked. So,
the government has, in the name of protection of women, done grave
injustice to two groups of women. The first group constitutes the
genuine victims of dowry harassment whose misery remains unmitigated
but is constantly alluded to in order to justify the law. The second
group consists of innocent mothers and sisters of husbands who are
criminalized and harassed by the police and the legal system without
any regard to their age, health or marital status. Pregnant women,
unmarried sisters, ailing mothers and even aged grandmothers have
been sent behind the bars under false allegations but their pain and
suffering has not even been acknowledged leave alone addressed by the
Government. Through IPC section 498a, the Government is actually
protecting those women that indulge in perjury, blackmail, extortion
and harassment of their husbands and in-laws.

The recently passed Domestic Violence Bill claims that it will
protect women from Domestic Violence which includes physical, verbal,
emotional, sexual and economical abuse. According to the law an
aggrieved person is defined as "any woman who is, or has been, in a
domestic relationship with the respondent…" and a respondent is
defined as "an adult male person who is, or has been, in a domestic
relationship with the aggrieved person…". Thus, the law only
recognizes domestic violence committed by a man on a woman in a
household shared in the past or present. While this law is heavily
biased against men, many supporters of the law are claiming that this
law is good for women. The following are some gross inconsistencies
in the law that prove that the DV Act is not good for women either.

There are several instances where a daughter-in-law and/or her blood
relatives commit Domestic Violence (as defined by the law) against
her mother-in-law, sister-in-law or any other females related by
marriage. In addition, mothers or step-mothers abuse their children
(who include daughters or step-daughters) physically, verbally,
emotionally and economically and vice versa. In such a situation, the
law does not provide any protection to female victims of Domestic
Violence. Thus, the law can only be used by a wife or a girlfriend
(present or former) and their relatives/friends against a man and his

According to Clause 17 of the Act legally divorced women and former
separated girlfriends/live-in partners can claim right to residence
in the home of their former husband or former partner even though the
Act says they may not have any right, title or beneficial interest in
the same. The law can thus force a former wife or former girlfriend
on a man's household and violate the rights of his present wife or
partner. The law does not provide protection to a man's current wife
or girlfriend/live-in partner or even dependent mothers and sisters
under such circumstances. Here, the law favors divorced women and
former girlfriends at the cost of the rights of a legally wedded
wife/live-in partner and other female relatives that share a
household with a man.

According to Section 19 a man can be removed from his own household
and him and his relatives can be restrained from entering any portion
of the household in which the aggrieved person resides. Through this
clause the law supports the encroachment of property by a girlfriend
(former or present) at the expense of the right to residence of a
man, his legally wedded wife and any other dependent female members
of a family. In the name of protecting a section of women who may be
making true or false allegations, the law penalizes innocent women
who are related to an accused man.

Despite documented evidence that section 498a of IPC has been heavily
misused affecting more and more women (along with men) everyday, no
amendments to this law have been proposed so far. As with section
498a of IPC, the Domestic Violence Act is replete with loopholes and
is bound to be misused. The DV Act will allow legally wedded women,
divorced women and girlfriends (former or present) to subject a man
and his relatives (male and female) to domestic violence and legal
harassment. This Act, like Section 498a of IPC will result in the
harassment of many more innocent women than it claims it will
protect. It is important for the Government to acknowledge the fact
that IPC 498a and DV Act are bad laws that criminalize ordinary
citizens (male and female) and violate their fundamental rights.
Unless urgent amendments are made to prevent the misuse of these
laws, credibility of women will be lost. In addition to lost
credibility, an overload of false cases will worsen the delays in the
judicial process and deny timely justice to women who are genuinely

Unreasonable and easily misused laws like IPC 498a and DV Act are
already creating a situation of fear and mutual distrust and
adversely affecting interpersonal relationships between men and women
in the society. This is resulting in more and more broken families
and depriving children of a healthy childhood. If the Government and
women's organizations were truly interested in improving the living
conditions of women in India they would focus on empowering women
through education. Education builds self-confidence and gives a
person the ability to stand up for oneself. Educating women can also
ensure that the next generation of children are raised to treat each
other with respect and be better citizens. The Government and women's
organizations can also lend support for rehabilitation of abused
women and protect them from further harassment without doing
injustice to innocent men. It would behoove the Government and
women's organizations to work in collaboration with social scientists
and psychologists to understand human behavior in the context of
changing social conditions and standards in India and think about
workable solutions to deal with Domestic Violence and other forms of
abuse instead of criminalizing ordinary citizens. Positive measures
that can bring about domestic harmony are the only way to ensure
family stability and long-term social stability.

Uma Challa
(SIF Member)


Anonymous said...


India is so divided as it is and such laws will only send females to some sector of the men men police, men lawyers, men judges. As per the law, men are not trusted it seems and most of the people handling the cases are men. This is the place where the same ladies will say yes sir and can end up doing whatever is said to them and will have to keep the mouth shut also, and later realise what real trouble can be.

Let all that happen and then when they don’t have any place to go to, then the lesson will be learnt… this what we want to happen to our sisters, wives and mothers? Don’t you think it will be too late by then? Meaning….. where will they complain when harassed by men police, men lawyers, and men judges? These guys may not be your husbands but they will still be men. Will they care for you more than your husbands? Will they truly care for you?

Lot needs to be done to have good population of men police, men lawyers, men judges etc before letting these women go to these men. I say this because men are not trusted as per the law. It is like a case where a woman law maker is sending a poor cow to a lion hoping that the lion is a vegetarian. Note for the law maker (specially the female law maker):- Please first sort out other problems before this creates more problems for the society.



Anonymous said...



Let us bring in equal laws for all human beings and not one law for ladies and one for gentlemen.....otherwise both sexes will fight like cats and dogs like now. So seems we have brought in more fights while trying to stop one fight.


Anonymous said...


Let us bring in equal laws for all human beings and not one law for ladies and one for gentlemen.....otherwise both sexes will fight like cats and dogs like now. So seems we have brought in more fights while trying to stop one fight. UK Guy.


Anonymous said...

Lot needs to be done to have good population of men police, men lawyers, men judges etc before letting these women go to these men. I say this because men are not trusted as per the law. It is like a case where a woman law maker is sending a poor cow to a lion hoping that the lion is a vegetarian. Note for the law maker (specially the female law maker):- Please first sort out other problems before this creates more problems for the society. UK Guy

Anonymous said...

I heard that many ladies from India go to Dubai and other rich cities and dance in front of guys and many go to the ones offering the most money to finish off the night.....and the same process starts the next night. All for money???!!!

And many of the other ladies misuse 498A penal code and other similar one sided laws existing in India to extract as much money as possible from guys in India and guys overseas. This is gradually becoming the Indian ladies' image. Nothing to be proud of.

If some of these lady law makers in India think that they have introduced something great by bringing in the one sided 498A penal code and DV law, then they have to realise that they have done nothing better than these other dancing ladies and the ladies who misuse the law. These laws make it easy for ladies to extract money from guys. The lady law makers have helped them.

All this is ruining the good name of Indian ladies and India in general. India has been known to be a very religious country with many Gods who took birth on the land. India is a very big supplying industry for basically everything on this planet. Now the country has a very big population with AIDS. It can now even be said that many Gods might take birth in India not because the people are good and the land is fertile for the birth of Gods. But one can say that many people(specially ladies) are not using their heads properly and they need to be taught some basics by Gods. May be India might even lose the chance to have Gods taking birth in India for centuries. Many people in India are losing the good teachings that the saints and sages gave to India. Many Ravanas and Kansh and so God takes birth? How many can he destroy? Too many around. And so He teaches by taking birth and might even refuse to come that easily now.

India.....WAKE UP before the bad law makers make these new laws to destroy the country. Here I am only talking about 498A and DV law. So a U Turn and do the duties well. Otherwise many of you will seem to be the modern day Ravanas and Kansh in India. If you are enjoying all this, then continue dancing in overseas clubs and make plenty of money by extracting money from guys after marrying them and then misusing these 498A type penal code laws. And be a supplying industry for sex also. So India gets a new name…..WORLD SUPPLIER.

Message for the good ladies…..I am sorry to put it this way. It is as bad as this and so have done it this way. I don’t think it is necessary to place my name here as no reward is expected for this bit of information. Do the duty and expect no reward. UK Guy…..not born in India…..yes the same one.