Free Press Journal

Deepika Bhardwaj – Documentary Filmmaker

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Deepika Narayan Bhardwaj

Why is justice not gender neutral? Should law recognise cruelty and domestic violence against men and other women family members of husband?

I can perhaps sum-up this answer by quoting recent Vogue Empower video featuring Madhuri Dixit – ‘Men don’t Cry’ towards the end of the video Madhuri says men don’t make women cry by inflicting violence. She never conveyed no human should make someone cry by inflicting violence on the other – man or woman. So – we don’t have gender-neutral laws because our society, media, judiciary presumes that a man is always a perpetrator and can never be a victim.

Even if he cries about his pain he is shunned by his very own people calling him names like coward, good for nothing etc. That’s why men don’t speak up. Another reason for not having gender-neutral laws is extreme influence of women rights activists in formation of gender specific laws.


They always like to go by numbers and not ‘justice’ to the victim regardless of gender. When there is no law, there will be no research; hence, there won’t be any numbers. So essentially while we have and are constantly bringing gender based provisions from west, we aren’t making them gender neutral like west thus creating numbers for only one gender and then research on that and then funding on that and it goes on. So it’s a cycle that feeds itself. While on the other hand no matter the extent of violence on men it’s never taken as gender issue.

While are constantly bringing gender based provisions from West, we aren’t making them gender neutral like them thus creating numbers for only one gender and then research on that and it goes on.

Yes law should give equal protection to all from violence. I have heard endless cases now where the wife called her parents to beat up the husband and his entire family every now and then. Whenever they try to complain it’s usually not registered. So giving all the powers to one person allows that person to take  advantage and exploit her powers. Help Age India’s data on senior citizens every year lists daughter-in-laws as biggest abuser of the elderly. Still men and their families have no hearing. Laws should be there for all. Cruelty within a relationship in my view should not be tried under criminal provisions but civil if at all. Cruelty is a very subjective aspect and this is the biggest reason for misuse of 498A.

An act can look cruel to me but not you. So it leads to a lot of ambiguity. We need to have family dispute redressal centres in every nook and corner of this country now with rising rate of divorces. Laws cannot be an end to all.

How do women react when she talks about men as hapless ‘victims’ trapped in marriages?

To my surprise a lot of women react very positively to my work as now abuse of laws is so prevalent that everyone knows someone in their circles who is a victim of it. Off late a lot of young female students have shown keen interest in researching and working on this subject to me.

However women and men who are very biased towards women issues usually put down this issue and again – bring numbers to tell me that men’s issues are nowhere as important as women’s issues. So there is a mix of both – admirers and critics.

 

Brief Bio: Deepika Bhardwaj

Deepika Narayan Bhardwaj is a journalist, anchor and a documentary filmmaker. Her first documentary ‘Gramin Dak Sevak’ was Jeevika All Asia Livelihood Film Festival 2009, student film winner. Her second documentary ‘Youth Count’ was broadcast on India’s leading News channel NDTV 24×7. Her third project ‘Garima’ was a commissioned, short documentary film by USAID and Counterpart International. She is currently making documentary called “Martyrs of Marriage” a commentary on the issue of Men’s right and abuse of one-sided gender centric laws in the Indian Penal Code.