I have labored and suffered in Matter’s night
To bring the fire to man;
But the hate of hell and human spite
Are my meed since the world began.
– Sri Aurobindo, A God’s labor
I am a Man!
Just like you or for that matter in case you are a girl – your father or your brother or your better half. But what is it that inspires me to question my gender, that too through the poem of an Indian Yogi? After all, It’s been nearly 30 odd years since I was born, have grown and have survived on planet earth. No questions asked. Then, What is it that makes me suddenly introspect myself and my gender so deeply, yet so humbly?
You may guess that may be I am going through some mid-life crisis. May be I am going through a troubled marriage. May be I lost my job in recession. May be I lost a lot of money in the stock market. Some or all of these contentions may be true. But, that would still leave us with an unanswered question – Why not just question my fate and why specifically question my gender?
First of all , Let me Confess. I AM going through a midlife crisis. And you guessed it right – It is a broken marriage. I feel isolated. I feel unheard. I feel helpless. And I feel all this because I am a Man. An Indian Man.
Yes you read it right! As I come to terms with a broken marriage (it lasted precisely 70 days), I find it infuriating to realize that the Indian Society in general and the Indian Law in particular is completely insensitive to my problem. The society does not recognize that it is more important to come out of an abusive marriage than to mindlessly continue it and the law goes a step ahead – it simply does not recognize that a Man can be abused (Especially in a marriage)!
Oh! You thought it does? If yes, then Just find out how many Crime Against Men Cells are there in your local police station. Or, better still, just try to find out as to Why , if there exists an Act called the Prevention of Women against Domestic Violence , not a similar law to safeguard Men against Domestic Violence? Or, best would be, Just find out under which section of the Indian Penal Code is it possible to punish or gain financial compensation for a Man from his abusive wife or his abusive in-laws (There exist at least 5 such sections in case you are a Woman!).
I promise, your inquiry into the above questions would be liberating . Losing All Hope is Freedom, You See! I am sure, by now, you’ve put on the thinking hat. You also have the same question in mind, though you may not admit it openly – How can a Man (read husband in the present context) be abused?
Let us carry out a thought experiment (though for many, some or all of this, is a harsh reality) :
You marry a woman by taking seven rounds about the sacred fire believing that it would last for the proverbial “Seven Lives” – And She leaves You in 70 days (over a self-created fight), is it not an ethical abuse?
You marry a woman in front of audience of 500 people – And she makes a public mockery of you by leaving you within a couple of days for her paramour , is it not a social abuse ?
You marry a woman thinking that she would one day take care of your family – And she refuses to acknowledge, forget adjusting with, the presence of your family from Day One, is it not a mental abuse?
You live a chaste life for more than 30 years, denying yourself what is otherwise a just physical need, so that your wife may pride your virginity – And when finally the time comes, she denies normal conjugal relations with you, is it not a sexual abuse?
Your wife of a couple of days leaves you without any reasonable cause – Only to later on demand money in the form of life long maintenance and alimony (when she herself is well qualified and in some cases even well earning), is it not an economic abuse?
And then, the mother of all abuses:
You marry a girl from a financially inferior family without demanding or expecting a single rupee in Dowry, and she makes you and your parents (now almost nearing retirement) end up behind bars for a couple of days (weeks if it’s for states like UP & Haryana) – For seeking what you never sought – Dowry (merely on the basis of a false allegation), is it not a legal abuse?
Yet, though there exists an exhaustive (actually erratic and mostly ridiculous) definition of what constitutes Domestic Violence Against Women living in a Shared Household in the eyes of the law in India, there is no such provision for an Indian Man!
Though mere false allegations of cruelty for seeking dowry (under the much abused IPC 498a) by a woman can get her husband & family arrested, yet actual physical violence by a woman against her husband may inspire some ridicule for the Man but not a just and valid FIR against the Woman!
This is an atrocity. Its scale is massive. Its impact is Lethal. One which is slowly but surely breaking the social fabric of India. One which is making a mockery of a once sacred institution called “Marriage”. And the reason I have been subjected to this atrocity, lies in my gender. It lies in the fact that I am a Man – An Indian Man.
At the time I was being brought up with a sharp discipline of understanding my responsibilities as a Protector and a Provider, my “better half” was being brought up with a sharp focus on her rights (both social and legal) , without making her conscious about her duties – Though she was provided with same opportunities for education and livelihood as were available to me.
In my struggle to earn a certain standard of living for my family , I forgot that I am also a human being. That I too have rights. That I too need a Space for myself. Unfortunately, our Society & Law forgot it too. But, we must wake up, before it is too late.
Else¸ we would be left with no option than to accept the misleading definition of Manhood as stated in Gregory David Robert’s, Shantaram (which succinctly summarizes the present idea of a Man – Woman relation to be similar to that of a Host-Parasite):
A man has to find a good woman, and when he finds her he has to win her love. Then he has to earn her respect.
Then he has to cherish her trust. and then he has to, like, go on doing that for as long as they live.
Until they both die.
That’s what it’s all about. That’s the most important thing in the world. That’s what a man is, Yaar.
A man is truly a man when he wins the love of a good woman, earns her respect, and keeps her trust.
Until you do that, you’re not a man.
So much, for being a Man!
Image Credits: Peddhapati/Flickr