What do you call a law that is designed (intentionally or otherwise) as a tool for women to harass their husbands (or male partners)? What do you call a law under which only a man can be charged for a crime that both men and women are perfectly capable of? If your answer is “gender biased”, read on.
What do you call a law that assumes a man guilty before the allegation against him is proved? What do you call a law under which a case can be filed by any woman without any evidence, the charge would be non-bailable, and burden of proof will be on the accused? If your answer is “arbitrary” or “unfair”, read on.
There are several laws in India, today, which satisfy these criteria, and below are a quick snapshot of some of the most widely misused ones among them.
498A (“Dowry Law”) – the foremost among these laws, with numerous cases of misuse reported every week and the Supreme court of India referring to it as “a new legal terrorism“. Going against the basic principle of Indian legal system, the accused under this law is presumed guilty until proven innocent. To make matters worse, the charge under this law is also non-bailable. Widely used as a tool of extortion and intimidation by women, there are several thousand men who have been ruined and their families terrorized by this law. Refer this website dedicated to the cause of supporting the victims of this law for more info.
Domestic Violence Act (2005) – another arbitrary law under which wife/female live-in partners can legally gain tyrannic control over the household. The definition of violence in this law is so expansive that it only takes a woman to feel insulted, for her husband to find himself on the wrong side of the law. Check this page out for more information.
Law on Sexual Harassment at Workplace – assumes that only women can be harassed, and has provisions that makes it great risk for an organization to even employ women. Under this law, a manager may find himself in trouble if he gives a woman reporting to him work that is too challenging, requires her to work late to finish an important project or puts her in the same team as other members that she doesn’t like – because these satisfy the law’s definition of “creating a hostile work environment” for women.
IPC Section 304B – if a woman dies by burns or bodily injury, or in circumstances other than normal within 7 years of her marriage, the husband will be deemed to have caused the death and has the onus to prove his innocence.
The new laws proposed to prevent crime against women has the potential to find a place in this list not very late after it comes into effect. Rather than protect or empower good women, these laws only serve to weaken the traditional institution of marriage, and sow seeds of discord and distrust between men and women, which will in the long term result in more crimes against women.