Isn’t Women Empowerment In Pursuit To Punish Innocent Men?
In the pursuit of the empower, haven’t we disremembered that the words empower and power are very dissimilar to one another. While empowering would mean enabling, powering someone would mean assigning someone surplus powers that may even supersede the laws of the land
I have collated some facts, which though are uncomplicatedly accessible to all of us but we hardly care for the other side of the story, after all we are pro-women. In 2013, the High Court of Delhi observed that women were using fabricated rape cases for personal crusade, harassment, extortion and forcing men to marry them. This year, a leading news house reported that two-third of total rape cases filed in Delhi in 2013 involved consenting couples, with the parents accusing male of rape. In the month of October this year, the Delhi Commission of Women released a report, which revealed that out of 2753 complaints of rape filed between April 2013 and July 2014, only 1287 were found to be genuine. Here is the most dramatic one. In 2010, the Delhi High Court overruled a man’s appeal to drop a false rape case filed against him, saying that this was to ensure that the complainant, a female police employee, is indicted for the deceitful case; the woman in the case had reached an out-of-court settlement with defendant. Same is the case with cases of dowry, and the Apex Court in 2010 directed the government to revise Section 498A of the IPC in view of rising numbers of false/ exaggerated grievances against male partners and their relatives by women. Why then the alleged accused, who never have committed such crimes, live in the state of despair since the common public regard them as deemed-guilty.
In past couple of days, I went through a number of news, but these two were where I had to stop and meditate. The first is the Human Rights Watch report which talks about overcrowded mental rehabilitation centers where women are mentally and physically abused, and a hope to escape is nil. The report is titled ‘Treated Worse than Animals’ and I would want all those craving for women empowerment to read the same once. In the second one, which is almost the most sensational news of recent times, two sisters have emerged as ‘Mardanis’, having taken a hard call on suspected eve-teasers. The act of heroism is also caught on camera and the video has gone viral. They used hands, legs and belts to make sure that what they say happened to them shall not happen to any other girl. In the present milieu, I too was moved with such bravery and for a while considered the girls as a role model, wanting other girls to learn from them a lesson on retaliation against evil. Today, when we are unhappy for crimes against women anyone who turns out to be a protestor, whether truthful or not, becomes an iconic figure.The other side of the Rohtak case is that the row was over seats and the girls can clearly be seen using foul language. Those who valued the bravery must be watchful now when another video of them thrashing a man, and fresh witnesses in the bus instance have come forward saying that the girls weren’t molested. The media also has now shifted its stand realising the sensational twist and the ‘staged’ acts of bravery are being tested. I also could not apprehend the logic of our media which published the news of the brave-heart girls at the very first page on the first day; however now, when the contradictory to girls’ statement facts have come up, the news makes less relevance to media houses.
Justice By The Social Media!
There is no shortcut for success but fame can come easy. And at the same time, instant fame comes with a price tag. No one can know this better than 20-year-old who played on the women card in the alleged ‘eve teasing case’ in Delhi recently. Jasleen Kaur’s accusations against a guy named Sarvjeet Singh of making obscene gestures and eve teasing her instantly created an outcry on social media. Jasleen Kaur was hailed as a hero everywhere when this Delhi resident showed guts and courage to take firm stand against her eve teaser, Sarvjeet Singh. She had accused Sarvjeet, a Software Engineer by profession of eve teasing, passing lewd comments, making obscene gestures and even threatening her with the dire consequences if she reported anyone of his misdeeds.
Her post gained insane response with more than lakh shares. Even Delhi police showed quick response and arrested Sarvjeet and the Delhi Chief Minister announced a cash prize of Rs 5000 as a token of appreciation for Jasleen’s courage. But this Delhi eve teasing case had much more depth than what was portrayed and got lost among the voices of self-proclaimed judges on leading news channels and the pseudo savior of humanity on the social media. Sarvjeet Singh who was granted bail posted his side of story saying how he was made scapegoat in this complete fake eve teasing episode and also came forth with a convincing witness. This immediately brought Jasleen, a ‘popular’ picture of women empowerment, down from that high moral ground.
This issue is the direct result of people blindly believing in the veracity of the claims made on the picture posted by Jasleen in the first place. The girl made a claim on social media. There was no fact sheet attached. It was up to the people to give both of them the benefit of doubt in the absence of any evidence whatsoever when the case first came into the public profile.
Dwindling faith in the working of the police and the law in the country have led to calls for much needed reform in the system. Had it not been for the virality of Jasleen Kaur’s Facebook post, the police probably wouldn’t have looked into the matter at all. The truth is that molestation and eve teasing are a daily occurrence around each of us, and there is no denying that women empowerment is the need of the hour. Social media does give a voice to the countless women who go through gender discrimination, molestation and eve teasing, that way.
However, this attitude also seems to drive us to quick justice via social media/media trials. Social media FIRs have resulted in instant judiciaries passing multiple judgements on the basis of half-baked facts. The emerging facts of the Jasleen-Sarvjeet saga bring back memories of the Rohtak sisters. A video of them beating up their “molesters” could not be traced to its source. After failing a lie-detector test, the Haryana government was left red-faced after announcing a Bravery Award. And the boys, alleged perpetrators of the crime, careers were pretty much destroyed with the Army refusing to recruit the two hopefuls. In the same fashion, a woman in Mumbai claimed brokers refused to let her have a house despite a signed agreement because of her religion. The social media made a hue and cry about religious discrimination. But nothing was heard when it came to light that the woman was denied a house because her neighbour had described her as a nuisance. Internet shaming seems to be the newest way of getting justice. But how fair is it? The judicial system is slow and the justice delivered is almost dissatisfactory. And there’s no doubting the fact that social media does make the system function faster. But this trend is alarming. We are deciding the victim and the perpetrator just like that. What is the point of probe agencies, police, judges and courts then when cases can be solved on Facebook and Twitter with the help of a simple photograph? Henry David Thoreau once remarked, “Men have become tool of their tools”. It couldn’t be more apt even then, than it is now, when we talk of social media.
Now, with a few female workers at my workplace, I am a scared man. On top of this, they report to me at day’s end with tasks done, the same makes me vulnerable to cases of molestation and harassment. And I am not the only one. Men at reputable positions, be it in the corporate, politics, media, or sports, face the threat of being dragged into cases of woman assault. The mockery is, even the common ‘man’ is at the risk of being detained, beaten up, and defamed in the public, just because the groundless search for women empowerment is on. Women have repeatedly been victim to domestic violence, dowry, eve-teasing and rapes. This indeed calls for empowering the woman of India, but in the pursuit of the same, haven’t we disremembered that the words empower and power are very dissimilar to one another. While empowering would mean enabling, powering someone would mean assigning someone surplus powers that may even supersede the laws of the land. Why then we treat extremists differently? They too at some point in time in history were assaulted by the society, why otherwise someone would tie a bomb around his waist and blow himself up? But this is forbidden, forbidden in every book of religion, society, politics and even our sensational media. On the contrary, ‘no questions asked’ policy is followed in case a woman allegedly beats a male who is later blamed for harassing, eve-teasing and even raping.
To the seekers of women empowerment- I am not in favor of any anti-women law or for that matter against furtherance of women. The simple notion that men and women shall be treated alike, however, is crushed when we allow a woman employ unlawful measures even in cases where justice can be realised under law. Certainly, investigation by police was the solution in the Rohtak case, not abrupt rewards to girls or debarment of the accused men from army. Isn’t it an evident suppression of justice, when only the reporting media is held as evidence and the ones truly breaching law are imprudently declared lawful?When the honorable courts of India have comprehended the abuse of women protection laws, the government should take prompt rectifying measures.The solution rests in fortifying police administration and easing the way for filing sincere grievances, and herein a man and a woman are to be considered alike. Just like law and righteousness are alike both for rich and poor, it shall be for men and women. Yes, bettering the conditions of women, deprived of basic rights is the liability of us all and has to be pursued with extravagant labors. But, in want of hasty development of our women, let us not overlook what we claim, ‘Nature has made man and woman alike.’
One thing is sure, unless we put an end to the ‘no questions asked’ rule when it comes to a female accusing a male of molesting or harassing, real enablement of women will never be attained, as a day would come when retraction would reach such heights that these complaints will not be paid heed to. Were the media reports ample to adjudge the men in the Rohtak incident guilty? When did we turn so proactive, or shall I say hasty? The real irony is that Indian laws are so contradictory that when the legalized age for sexual activity has been regarded as 18 years, obviously with mutual consent, a girl can still accuse the male of sexual annoyance even when mutual consensus and age factor are in place. What will you say about cases when a female wakes up post 5 or 10 years of alleged harassment, where at most of the occasions the real motive is to extract fiscal perks or to defame a person on instigation of his opponents? Isn’t it easy for a female to say ‘He used me under a promise to marry’ and drag the person to the misery of lifetime? Promise! Why do we need the Indian Contract Act then? Was the girl not at fault when she made it, or shall I not say ‘relishing’ with the man before marriage and in some cases even with a married man?
The loopholes of our laws are placing Indian men at risk, high risk I say, even for the male lawmakers and law protectors. Just recently, the honorable Chief Justice of India has set up a two-judge Social Justice Bench to speed up cases involving missing children and such other social evils. This move is appreciable and the man of acumen should also consider as to where we all are heading in our visionless pursuit of women enablement. How can the guiltless parents of a male be defamed and detained just because the daughter-in-law alleges that she was asked for dowry? Why are we consenting to out-of-court settlements in cases of sexual harassment and are allowing false complainants to extract their ill motives? Rape is a crime and how can such settlements render the same guiltless? What’s wrong with the Khap Panchayats then? Improving the laws by making them so stringent and by adding severe punitive clauses for filing false complaints/ retractions in cases of sexual assault is the pressing need. Media, politicians, and indeed the common man have to be wise enough while giving verdicts during such cases. Never forget that you can be at the painful end one day.
To all women—My intents for women empowerment are as pure as they should be for the sake of security of my daughter, wife, and all other women, reflection of the same are my blogs, ‘Need to Empowering Indian Women’ and ‘Women-What they deserve and what they get’published on March 4, 2014 and June 10, 2014 respectively, but I am equally thoughtful when it comes to shielding my son, father,and other men from any illicit attacks, as evident from my blog, ‘Deemed-Guilty Before Judicial Judgment’ published on September 27, 2014. An overlooked fact that the society needs to realise is that along with the alleged accused, women associated with that man, his wife, daughter/s, and female employees are equally punished and forced to live a miserable life. Helpless in correcting the laws of India, I still have a piece of advice for my friends- Use CCTVs at places of meet with females. Better proactive than a rapist, agree?
By Sunil Gupta
(The author is a Political Comme-ntator & Chartered Accountant)