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The life of a woman is of the same worth as that of a man. Not more, not less!HomeAboutArchivesCopyrightPetitionSubmitVolunteerWar on Dowry.A Memorandum Protesting Amendments to Law 498A (Please Comment)

December 24, 2010

tags: 498A, amendment, Dowry, gender violence, protest, violence, violence on women, womenby THE 50 MILLION MISSING CAMPAIGN

.498A is a significant law in India that is meant to protect married women from violence inflicted on them by their husbands and in-laws, and ensure justice in case they get killed. These cases may or may not involve dowry. To read what the law entails click here. The law is cognizable (i.e. a police officer can investigate and arrest without a warrant) and non-bailable (i.e. the court has the power to grant or refuse bail). The maximum sentence under this law is only 3 years.

Over the last few years there has been a very powerful, wealthy, lobby of Indian men, many living outside India (married to women from India), who have funded a strong anti 498A drive and have managed to put the law before the Indian administration for amendment. Their complaint is that many women are making false claims of torture and harassment under this law. They want the law to be made non-cognizable and bailable.

The 50 Million Missing Campaign will be sending this memorandum (letter below) to the Committee protesting this amendment. We request that you put your comments in the boxes below supporting our protest.Your email address will not be published. You can also send an email (by Dec 30) directly to [email protected].

TO: Shri Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Chairman,The Committee on Petitions of the Rajya Sabha

FROM: The 50 Million Missing Campaign

A Memorandum Protesting Amendments to Section 498A of Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Respected Committee Members,

The 50 Million Missing Campaign is an online campaign, for advocacy, support and change, that for four years has been working to raise public awareness about the various factors that have contributed to the systematic extermination of millions of girls and women from India’s population.

We are appalled that the 498A law which is meant to protect women and ensure justice in dowry related cases of violence/ death, should be targeted for change, when the need for legal and judicial protection of India’s girls and women is so dire.

We would like to submit to you the following reasons for why it is imperative that the 498A be not weakened any further, as well as some constructive suggestions. [In the comment boxes below are feedback from the campaign’s supporters]

1) IT IS ALREADY VERY DIFFICULT FOR FAMILIES OF WOMEN VICTIMIZED TO FILE A COMPLAINT WITH THE POLICE

In many cases it is almost impossible for the family of the woman victimized to lodge a complaint or even file an FIR with the police. This is a problem that even the Supreme Court has acknowledged. In giving an angry directive in August 2008 Justice B N Agrawal said “In India, officials act only on huntering (flogging). India understands only ‘chabuk’ – this is the meaning of swaraj and this is the concept of swaraj (self-rule).”

Roopa/ click for story

In one of our cases, the victim Roopa had her husband, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law pin her down and pour acid down her throat. We managed to get her medical and surgical help, which saved her life, but her father-in-law was a sarpanch, and influential, and the local district court and police in Roopa’s in-laws’ village, in West Bengal, refused to allow Roopa’s parents to file a case. So the HRLN (Human Rights Law Network) – Kolkata, which took Roopa’s case, on basis of inaction of the lower courts and police, finally was compelled to try to file the case at the High Court in Kolkata.

2) THE SYSTEM ALREADY TAKES A VERY LONG TIME TO HEAR A CASE AND ARREST THE SUSPECTS

Even for people who are familiar with the legal system, and may have the resources to hire lawyers, it is an extremely long and frustrating process to even get their case heard and the suspects arrested.

Anshu Singh/ click for story

In one of the cases we have been supporting, that of Anshu Singh, who was only 23 years old, and was killed just 45 days after her wedding, it took Anshu’s parents 8 long months of fighting the system to get a hearing in court and get the suspects arrested. For those eight months the suspects were free to do whatever, go wherever, with no legal accountability. But if it took that long for the Singh family, that is educated, middle-class, and can afford legal help, just imagine how unfeasible it is for other families who are not economically well off, or educated.

3) MISUSE OF THE LAW IS NOT A PROBLEM OF THE LAW BUT OF THE POLICE AND JUDICIARY

One of the arguments made against the 498A is that women are apparently misusing the law to blackmail their husbands and in-laws. We at the campaign have not come across any such case. However, we are not saying that this is impossible. What we are saying is that it is reckless to modify the law that is there for the protection of many, and indeed by the number of women that are violently abused, tortured and killed, is still isn’t sufficient to ensure their safety.

The law as it is — is still grossly ineffectual. And the problem for this ineffectuality, both in the case of “false” cases filed under 498A, and the thousands of cases where it has failed to give justice to women so killed, is police and judiciary system. If cases are not filed, if the police investigations as well as autopsies are not carried out in time and according to proper procedures, how can the law be effective? It is the job of system to root out false cases through a careful and accountable process. Take other criminal activities for example – theft and assault. If people start filing false theft and assault cases, would we weaken the laws on theft and assault? Is that the most rational approach?

4) SO CALLED “FALSE” CASES MAY INDEED BE TRUE

This is unfortunately a very common phenomenon in India. Women who are subject to torture and attempted murder by their husbands and in-laws often return to their marital homes.

In Roopa’s case, (who we mention in #1) she returned to her marital home just a few days before her lawyers could file the case in the High Court. The reason women in India do so, is because they face immense social rejection by their neighbors and communities when they leave their husbands or try to prosecute them, even when they are the victims. Roopa was in the hospital for more than one month, and not one neighbor or relative came to visit her in the hospital during that time. When she was brought come they crowded around her house, like she was some strange animal on display. After that, they did not visit her, did not ask about her, and continued to spread malicious rumors about the reasons she left her husband.

Any woman who leaves her husband in India, even to save her life, gets branded a “prostitute”. These are people who have known her family from before Roopa was born, but they treated her with the most inhumane callousness. Roopa began to feel like an out-caste. She felt ashamed of herself. Most of these women, through long abuse and violence, already have very low self-esteem. In a society like India’s, where community approval and standing is such an important factor in social survival, is it surprising that most women choose to return to their husbands? In a country that tells women “Pati-parmeshvar” (Your husband is God) – and so it does not matter what he does to you, you must obey and respect him, is it surprising that women in India choose to return to their husbands at the risk of their own safety and life? In a country where for ages we have traditions and sayings like – “A daughter leaves her parents’ house in a doli (marriage palanquins) but can return only in a coffin,” is it surprising that many women choose to return to their husbands’ house?

It is not the law that needs changing, it is India’s social attitude that must be changed! It is India’s human priorities that need to be changed!

5) RECOMMENDATION IN LIEU OF CHANGE TO 498A

In view of the extensive violence that girls and women in India are subject to, one that has led to the systematic annihilation of millions of girls and women, it is critical that the criminal and legal system stands strong in combating such a gross violation of human rights of this one targeted group. This is unprecedented in human history!

Is there any other human group in the world that has been so viciously targeted and eliminated as have been girls and women in India?

We have a whole social killing machinery here in action in India: female feticide, female infanticide, the deliberated neglect or and often abandonment of infant girls, mob molestations, rape, gang-violence by husbands and in-laws, dowry murders, “honor” killings and “witch” hunts.

India now ranks even lower than our neighbors Pakistan and Bangladesh in the Global Gender Equity Index. This is more than a national shame! It is a national calamity! It is a human rights disaster of the kind the world has never seen inflicted on one targeted group. In fact on November 02, 2010, even Supreme Court Justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra said“The hallmark of a healthy society is the respect it shows to women. Indian society has become a sick society. This is evident from the large number of cases coming up in this court and also in almost all courts in the country in which young women are being killed by their husbands or by their in-laws by pouring kerosene on them and setting them on fire or by hanging/strangulating them.”

Therefore, please do not weaken any of the laws – which have already proved quite inefficient in protecting girls and women.

Instead we recommend that each city and town have a separate police and judiciary wing set up to deal specifically with all the issues impacting on the safety of girls and women we’ve mentioned above. There should be police and investigative officers, psychologists, a medical team, autopsy team, lawyers and fast-track courts – all of who must have specialized training. This can also be the hub for organizing and monitoring community sensitivity, legal effectiveness, political impact and social responsibility with regards to the safety of India’s girls and women.

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.from → Female Genocide← Is it A Crime to Menstruate?To Brad and Angelina: Regarding Rumors of Your Indian Wedding →.19 Comments leave one →

Anagha Sarpotdar permalink

December 24, 2010 1:36 pm

I support and endorse this memorandum totally. In Solidarity Anagha

Reply .Dr. Marilyn Mehr permalink

December 24, 2010 2:42 pm

Please do not weaken this law 498A. The law offers necessary protection of women’s human rights. Thank you, Marilyn Mehr, Ph.D.

Reply .Graham Daws permalink

December 24, 2010 2:56 pm

The whole world is watching!

Male or Female, every life has the same value to God!

Reply .Melanie Ruefli permalink

December 24, 2010 4:29 pm

I strongly disagree with the proposed amendments to Law 498A. All efforts should be made to enforce the law, not weaken it.

Reply .Rita Banerji permalink

December 25, 2010 2:26 am

How did we get to this point? How could a bunch of men hijack this law and decide they want it changed when the ground reality of violence on women in India is so gruesome? It is very important that women in India start fight back and not take things so passively.

Reply .THE 50 MILLION MISSING CAMPAIGN permalink*

December 25, 2010 8:54 am

Not in a country — where there are 50 million more men than women. A gender ratio so screwed that it is now irreversible! 50 million females killed! Do you get it?

Reply .Nasim Ansari-Tarun Chetna Pratapgarh (U.P.) permalink

December 25, 2010 1:06 pm

Please do not weaken/amendment the 498A act. The law offers necessary protection of women’s human rights. 498A is a significant law in India that is meant to protect married women from violence inflicted on them by their husbands and in-laws, and ensure justice in case they get killed.

I support and endorse this memorandum totally.

Reply .sbiyouthforindia permalink

December 25, 2010 1:55 pm

Thank you for bringing this to people’s attention. It’s despicable that men would lobby against this law so that they can continue to victimise their wives without apprehension. I hope justice is served once and for all, with the passing of this law.

Sapna Shahani,

Goa.

Reply .Busayo permalink

December 25, 2010 10:11 pm

I am in support of this memorandum and i am also pleading with the Government of India to stop this amendment.These laws should be enforced and not weaken. Violence against women in India is already soo bad. Let the whole world know that you have human face after all.

Reply .Nasim Ansari-Tarun Chetna-Pratapgarh (U.P.) permalink

December 26, 2010 2:00 am

Please do not weaken by amendment of this useful law 498A. This law offers necessary protection of women’s human rights and to protect married women from violence inflicted on them by their husbands and in-laws, and ensure justice in case they get killed.

Reply .Pooja permalink

December 26, 2010 5:29 am

Indian women need to fight for their rights. The men who are fighting this law are despicable human beings.

Reply .Saren Nelson,LPC permalink

December 26, 2010 6:12 pm

I support the protest against changes in the Law 498A for all women and children the world over. Until we protect all women and children we are no where near civilized!

Reply .Laura Peterson permalink

December 27, 2010 2:51 am

Women must be protected, when women are safe, children are safe.

Reply .Catherine Onyemelukwe permalink

December 27, 2010 9:35 pm

Please protect the women of India. Do not repeal or weaken the law that protects women from murder or suicide.

Reply .Malcolm Arnold permalink

December 28, 2010 2:53 am

May ALL that is divine help people like rita in her struggle on behalf of the voiceless . how can politicians lie straight in bed at night with so much blood on their hands . women are equal we men just have to acknowledge it for our own spiritual wholeness

Reply .joyce obrien permalink

December 28, 2010 6:40 am

Please do not weaken any of the laws which are already quite inefficient in protecting girls and women.

Reply .Prabhakar MN permalink

December 29, 2010 12:50 pm

Gender Equality is the need of the day!

Reply .steve permalink

December 30, 2010 2:24 am

This law is killing basic human rights for men and their families. This gender biased law should be abolished . This law totally misued by highly educated and rich girls. Its not helping poor people as they dont have information on this. All these Feminist groups should go educate indian women rather supporting this kind of biased laws. Law can not prevent any event it only reacts to the avent.

All the cases files under this law in metros are exaggerated and girls come from this metros want quick bucks and they marry any no of men and put them under extrotion bid gogin thru 498a. All these bithes should punished very seriously. If govt can not control its use, it will become people responcibilty to sheild them against the law. If men trun against the nation it will be very drastic impact ….. Tax payes money should be used judiciously.