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'Indian laws do not protect men'

September 14, 2016 09:03 IST

Men demand equal rights as women as they allege that the laws are discriminatory against them. Photograph: Men's Rights Association/Facebook

IMAGE: Men demand equal rights as women as they allege that the laws discriminate against them. Photograph: Men's Rights Association/Facebook

'A false promise of marriage cannot be called rape.'
'The police register it as rape. But you are acquitted finally.'
'In the meantime the man's name is spoilt.'
'Feminism today is spreading hatred towards men.'
'Feminism has destroyed the harmony in society, in the family and in the work place.'
'It has destroyed the trust between men and women.'

Swarup Sarkar is a crusader for men's rights.

A founder of Save the Family, below, left, the textile engineer spoke to Rediff.com's A Ganesh Nadar about men's rights and how his organisation helps 'men in distress.'

When did Save the Family start?

Save the family started as a movement on March 10, 2005. I was one of the members.

At that time when a girl complained about dowry -- people advised the husband to pay and settle.

We decided to fight the cases. We also decided to set up a helpline for others with similar problems.

What kind of cases did you come across in the beginning?

There were so many cases. We were 12 members at that time. All of us were facing cases.

It was like extortion -- divorce and dowry cases.

After the members increased to 250, we registered it as a NGO -- the Save Family Foundation.

After that we filed a PIL in the Supreme Court to scrap Section 498 (the Dowry Act). The court refused and told us to approach the government.

We approached the Rajya Sabha. They refused to scrap the Act but agreed to some guidelines to prevent misuse of the Act in 2012.

Could you tell me about what you call false rape charges?

People started noticing us after 2007. Earlier a medical test was essential for making a rape allegation. Now it is not essential before registering an FIR.

This is a loophole that has come up after the Delhi gangrape case. We had opposed this. Lots of false cases have been registered after that.

We want an FIR after a medical test.

A false promise of marriage cannot be called rape. Police register it as rape. But you are acquitted finally. In the meantime the man's name is spoilt.

Suppose a girl refuses to marry a boy after having an affair with him. You don't call her a rapist.

Every sexual relationship cannot be termed as rape.

You think a central welfare body for men will help?

There is no government organisation for men. We want a national commission for men.

Unfair laws cannot bring gender equality. Laws should be gender neutral.

There should be special laws to prevent misuse of dowry and rape laws.

Swarup SarkarDo you have many women members?

Seventy per cent of the calls to our helpline are made by women who are supporting men in distress.

We coax them to tell the men to call directly. We have a lot of women supporters.

There is a helpline that works for all 24 hours. It is a single number for the whole country -- 8882 498498.

40 NGOs all over India are connected to this helpline. We provide counseling too.

We have one national meeting every year on August 15. At that meeting we decide our strategy for the next year.

Our aim is to create awareness in society, and for that we hold seminars, protests and rallies.

We also make representations to lawmakers, the judiciary, politicians and the police. We are drafting a law to protect men and also make laws gender neutral.

How many members are there in your organisation?

We have 7,500 registered members.

How is the group funded?

It is a self supported group. We don't charge victims. We get sponsors for our events.

We get small amounts as donations from the common people. It is enough for us. We spend our own money.

90 per cent of what we spend is our own money and 10 per cent is from donations.

How do men in distress get in touch with you?

They can call our helpline. They can attend our weekly meetings -- many victims come there. They can also send us an e-mail.

How many men in distress contact you in a month?

On an average we receive 100 calls per day from all over the country. This means 30,000 in a month.

About one lakh (100,000) men contact us every month which includes direct visits and also those who contact us by e-mail.

Do you have lawyers as members?

We don't have lawyers as members. We don't recommend lawyers to the victims who contact us.

Do you think male sexuality is misunderstood?

The law is like that. If a girl beats you up, there is no case, they have a licence to beat up men.

Unfair laws are the reason. In other countries work place harassment is gender neutral.

Indian laws do not protect men when men and women are involved.

Sexual crimes against men is not registered as a crime.

Do you think feminism clashes with the rights of men?

Feminism today is spreading hatred towards men.

Feminism has destroyed the harmony in society, in the family and in the work place.

It has destroyed the trust between men and women. That is why crime is going up.

When you spread hatred, violence and crimes increase.

A Ganesh Nadar / Rediff.com