Male rights groups working for “gender-neutral” family laws on Saturday (26 September 2015) demanded implementation of the Law Commission of India recommendations to make shared parenting mandatory. They said the central government should take steps to pass the bill to prevent thousands of fathers from committing suicide.
“The Domestic Violence Act needs to be amended to make it gender neutral that will ensure equal protection for the men, women and children without any gender bias or presumption of innocence in favour of the women,” Kumar V. Jahgirdar, president of Bengaluru-based Child Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP), told IANS.
CRISP and its partner Save Family Foundation are celebrating October as the national domestic violence awareness month to strengthen a legal framework and give more rights to fathers.
Quoting the National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) latest statistics, Jahgirdar said 89,129 married men committed suicide in 2014 whereas there were 42,537 suicides of women during that period. “This indicates the harassed husbands committing suicides is twice than that of the women due to lack of support and gender biased laws. Even the legal process itself is more barbaric than the punishment,” he said.
Another men’s rights activist Swarup Sarkar, founder of the Delhi chapter of NGO Save Family Foundation, said there should be speedy trial in all family cases pertaining to dowry, domestic violence, child custody and maintenance cases.
He said as per the NCRB report for the last year the conviction rate for dowry related cases is 2 percent or lower.
“We are demanding laws to curb misuse of the domestic violence act and punish people who misuse the act as a tool for extortion and also to take action to prosecute against people who file false cases,” Sarkar said.
Jahgirdar said the maintenance cost in case of separation should be based on length of the marriage.
“A system should be setup to automatically account for child maintenance expenses,” he added.
Bengaluru-based child psychologist Savio Periara said divorced couples fight to control their children and use them as tools to settle their personal scores.
“Such situation can be avoided by making shared parenting mandatory in the interest of children as over 60 percent of the couples are following this in the US and its time for India to amend the laws,” she said.
CRISP says more than 20,000 divorce cases are pending in family courts in Bengaluru alone.