Pune: The recent passage of the Women's Reservation Bill in Parliament has sparked discontent among men's rights groups. The Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF), a men’s rights NGO, is organising a protest in Pune against the Bill's passage. Men from cities such as Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Delhi, Jaipur, and even some foreign countries are expected to attend the conference scheduled from September 30 to October 2.
Anil Murty, co-founder of SIFF, shared his views with The Free Press Journal, stating, "We are against all affirmative action for women because we see it as gender discrimination. If the government wants to pass the Women's Reservation Bill, then it should pledge to end institutional discrimination against men first by making domestic violence, stalking, sexual harassment, and rape laws gender-neutral."
He emphasised, "Discrimination against men is prevalent in the country. For something as simple as a bus ticket, women of all ages and income brackets receive it for free, while men, no matter how poor they might be, won't get it for free. Political parties are perpetuating this discrimination by making poll promises and implementing schemes that primarily benefit women. No one is addressing the issues faced by men. In the past, there were divides based on caste and religion, and now, we see a gender divide."
Murty added, "We will protest wherever political parties field women candidates because we want an amendment of Article 15 of the Constitution to ban gender discrimination of men, women, trans, and other genders. If they want to field women candidates, no one is stopping them, but just don't make it mandatory under the Constitution. Give 50% tickets to women, not just 33%, but don't make it mandatory under the Constitution."
During their three-day protest in Pune, SIFF will also raise the issue of the rising male suicides. Citing the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data published in 2021, Murty said that suicides in married men have skyrocketed from 68,815 in 2019 to 83,063 in 2021. On the other hand, suicides in married women remained almost fixed at 28,000 per year for the last 15 years. "This concludes that married men have difficult lives. If men are so privileged over women, then why is there such a huge gap in suicide rates between men and women? In fact, this gap is widening fast, and if this continues, then in the next few years, married men’s suicides will cross 1,00,000 per year. Men are dying, and nobody is getting outraged," he claimed.
SIFF also believes that both men and women should bring equal assets and money into a marriage, and the same goes for alimony. “Lakhs of men are suffering from depression and mental health ailments due to huge stress. Many of these men are losing their jobs and careers. There is very little sensitivity in the Indian judiciary about the plight of these men. How can a man suffering from severe depression pay monthly spousal support or child support?” Murty asks, adding, “Courts often interpret that the breakdown of a marriage is leading to the destitution of women. If it is so, then both men and women should work for a couple of years and save sufficient money to create a corpus fund before getting married. Such a corpus fund can be used if the marriage breaks down.”
Furthermore, during the protest, the group will also conduct a puja to “celebrate Elon Musk as the god of free speech”. "We are able to express ourselves freely through X (formerly Twitter) ever since Elon Musk has taken over,” said Murty. “Earlier, our tweets were seen as anti-women and got removed straight away or our accounts would be shadow-banned. Now, that does not happen, and hence, we consider Elon Musk as the god of free speech," he added.
Here are their key demands:
1. Every court must appoint visiting psychologists and psychiatrists to prevent a mental health crisis among people facing litigation.
2. We demand the government appoint a special commission to address the rising suicides in India.
3. Every political party must include the issue of suicides due to family reasons in its manifesto.
4. We demand special courts to be created for NRIs facing court cases.
5. The Constitution must be amended to protect people from discrimination based on gender.
6. Just like men, if women commit violence and assault others, they should also be restrained and arrested. The policy of not arresting women after sunset and before sunrise has to be stopped, as more and more women are resorting to violence nowadays.