Men’s Rights: The Other Side of the Equality Coin



When people of all genders have equal rights, duties, and opportunities, it is called gender equality. Gender inequality has affected every individual, including women, men, trans and gender diverse people, children, and families. It affects people of all ages and backgrounds.

We require gender equality for the growth of an individual and society. It protects not only women and girls but all members of society against abuse. It helps in economic growth as well. Women and men both are valued equally in places that are safer and healthier. Equality among men, women and other genders is also a fundamental right.[1]

Much of the current discussion on achieving gender equality is towards the need to address the vulnerabilities of women. It is understandable, given the constant discrimination and violence directed at women and girls.

It is undeniable that men and boys enjoy greater privileges and benefits than women and girls on average; yet, in many circumstances, the costs of masculinity may outweigh the benefits.

As a result, recognising the rights of men becomes even more critical.


History

Women have been depicted as inferior, and males as superior organs of the gender group for centuries in numerous mythologies, literature, and forms of expression. As a result, men are expected to be strong and aggressive, while women are expected to accept oppression and be silent victims. Gender roles and standards have largely influenced such ideas, which dictate that women cannot be violent, aggressive, or oppressive due to their social status. Power relations, gender roles, norms, and values, on the other hand, are not static, and they vary with time. It has long been considered that women are always the victims and men are always the abusers. This assumption is based on a variety of factors. The thought that men could be victims of domestic abuse and violence is so inconceivable that many men never even try to report it. Acceptance of a woman's aggression against men is regarded as a challenge to man's supremacy and masculinity.

Although there is no systematic research or record of domestic violence against men in India, it is assumed that roughly 40 occurrences of domestic violence entail violence against men in every 100 cases of domestic violence. The number of violent acts against men and the underlying mechanisms of violence is unknown. Our societal system and norms related to men, which prevent them from disclosing and reporting domestic violence and abuse, are among the main reasons for under-reporting. Most people do not believe male victims who disclose domestic abuse and violence. No one listens to those who try to describe their issues, torture, struggle, and harassment in marriage and family; instead, they are humiliated.[2]


Ram Prakash Chugh, a Supreme Court advocate, founded the Indian Men's Rights Movement in Delhi in 1988 to address psychological abuse and false charges of dowry harassment by wives. The movement was started as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Husbands.[3]

Although men have more advantages, data suggests that the costs of masculine norms may be high not only for girls and women but also for young boys and men.


All Men are Not Equal

Male privilege is not allocated equitably to each man's benefit. Low-income men, men outside the traditional power structure, men who have alternative viewpoints, gay and bisexual men, and other distinct groups of men are all discriminated against at times. Men who are not a part of the usual power structure can face discrimination. A recent study also shows that, while men and boys may have more advantages than girls and women, masculine norms come with a combination of benefits and costs, which are mirrored in men's physical and psychological well being. It is critical to look into the costs of masculine standards on young boys and men as well.


Men See it as a Zero-sum Game.

Evidence reveals that more men who conduct violence against women believe that women's rights imply a loss of men's rights.

According to a study, those men under financial stress – those who do not have a lot of money or are unemployed – and men who have experienced or witnessed prejudice as a child – are less likely to be equal. Men who have witnessed collaborative decision-making or men's engagement in households, on the other hand, are more likely to be equitable. Men's weakness and inability to exert "masculine dominance and power" complicate the relationship between masculinity and gender-based inequality; their sense of inferiority displays itself in aggression, son-preference, discrimination, and self-control.

For women, there are significantly more incentives to act masculine than for men to act feminine. The masculine mystique has faded significantly more than the feminine mystique.


Impact of Gender Socialisation on Men

According to research, gender socialisation, rather than biological differences, appears to impact the health and development of boys and girls.

Far too many boys enter adolescence with body image issues, having watched or experienced violence, dropped out of school, engaged in sexually risky behaviour, or in other risky behaviours to be viewed as "real men" by their classmates and communities.


According to international health data, the main difference between adolescent males and girls is that boys have higher mortality rates, while girls have higher morbidity rates in most areas.


Furthermore, the causes of death and morbidity that boys and girls encounter differ significantly. Boys have higher rates of death and morbidity from violence, accidents, and suicide. Whereas, adolescent girls have higher morbidity and mortality rates from reproductive tract and pregnancy-related causes.

Since the initial Burden of Disease assessments, the evidence showing men's higher burden of illness has been blatant.

According to Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALY) data on Men's Health, health problems connected with gender socialisation account for a significant portion of the illness burden. The top ten DALYs worldwide are traffic accidents, injuries (related to the job and intra-gender violence), homicides, and cardiovascular diseases.

According to the DALY data, the four areas with the highest gender-related risks are tobacco, alcohol, road traffic injuries, and violence. In these areas, taking risks is often associated with traits of masculinity.[4]

Men's health-seeking behaviour is also often seen as taboo due to the need to be tough. In most nations, women are more aware of health issues than men. Boys are more prone to overlook or not report them, downplay their relevance, and refuse to seek medical help when required.


Notable Verdicts

The Supreme Court of India granted a woman's divorce on the grounds of mental abuse in April 2003. Her spouse had been tormenting her and accusing her of having affairs, she alleged. Although mental suffering is shown in five out of ten divorce cases in India, Ram Prakash Chugh believes that if a male took similar claims to court, he would be unlikely to receive a favourable verdict.

The Delhi High Court ruled in September 2008 that a woman who earns enough money is not entitled to maintenance from her divorced spouse. The ruling came after a man appealed a Family Court's order to award his wife ₹7,500 per month in alimony. The man had mentioned that his wife earned ₹80,000 per month and had no other obligations.


The Delhi High Court ruled in September 2010 that an unemployed man cannot be ordered to pay alimony. The guy had appealed a lower court's decision that he should pay ₹5,000. The man explained that he was an expatriate from Angola who worked as a sales manager and had travelled to India to marry. He married in May 2007. However, the relationship barely lasted three weeks. The police seized his passport after his wife filed a complaint, and he was unable to return to work, resulting in his termination. The court ruled that while the woman was equally qualified as her husband and worked for a multinational corporation, she could not be awarded alimony.


The Delhi High Court ruled in September 2010 that a man's assets should be considered when determining the amount of alimony. The court was deciding a case where a man sought a total of ₹15000 every month. Following his wife's appeal, he was ordered to pay ₹45000 by a different court, which took into account his net worth. The guy had objected to the judgement, stating that his monthly wage was ₹41000.

The court decreased the alimony payment to ₹20000 per month and declared that a man's parents and siblings are also entitled to a share of his assets.


The Supreme Court of India issued a ruling in October 2010 declaring long-term live-in partnerships to be deemed marriage. The female spouse can seek alimony under the Domestic Violence Act 2005, which defines "connection like marriage" as "relationship like marriage." The court was hearing a case in which another woman was suing a man who was already married.


The Delhi High Court ruled in June 2012 that a woman who is educated and capable of supporting herself but has voluntarily abandoned her employment is not entitled to alimony. The ruling came in a case where the woman appealed a lower court's decision that denied her alimony. The woman was capable of earning ₹50,000 per month but chose to remain unemployed. The court ordered the spouse to pay ₹10000 in child support.

The Karnataka High Court granted both parents equal custody of their 12-year-old child in September 2013. The boy must live with his mother from July 1 to December 31 each year and with his father from January 1 to June 30 each year until he attains adulthood. On Saturdays and Sundays, both parents were given visiting privileges. When the child was in the custody of one parent, the child was allowed to call, and video chat with the other parent. The court also ruled that the child's education and other expenses shall be shared equally by both parents.[5]


An "Either-Or" Solution?

When examining what makes boys unique, it is common to compare them to girls, highlighting areas where boys have higher morbidity or mortality rates than girls.

These comparisons might be problematic, leading to a divisive and simple debate about who suffers the most, or which gender is more vulnerable to health hazards, and so on.

Similarities between adolescent females and boys may be overlooked as a result of such comparisons. Bringing attention to the needs and reality of boys and men should not be used to indicate that the purpose of empowering girls and women has been met.


Men, for their part, should approach the gender equality movement with the mindset of being privileged rather than victimised. They should be aware of how to exercise their privileges without jeopardising the rights of women, girls, and other men.


Everyone must understand that this is not a zero-sum game.

[1] https://www.vic.gov.au/gender-equality-what-it-and-why-do-we-need-it [2] https://legaldesire.com/mens-rights-in-india/ [3] https://legaldesire.com/mens-rights-in-india/ [4] https://idronline.org/need-talk-men/ [5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Men%27s_rights_movement_in_India#:~:text=The%20 Men%27s%20rights%20movement%20in,consider%20are%20biased%20against%20 men

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