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Men’s lives, women’s laws


In India, you’re better off being born male. But every now and then, the dice is heavily-loaded against men

A successful model’s suicide is a lot more captivating than the poverty and debt related suicides that occur routinely across India, so almost two weeks later we still get a daily update on Viveka Babajee. Was she a jilted lover or a manic depressive struggling on the fringes of Mumbai’s glittering modeling scene?

A combination of anti-depressants, loneliness, financial issues and a boyfriend dodging a commitment can be lethal. But my sympathies are with Gautam Vora, Babajee’s alleged fiancé, who must be negotiating with lawyers and cops as I write this, fearing that at any minute he could be arrested for abetment to suicide. Though unlikely, if charged and found guilty his life is effectively over: Section 306 carries a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. Even if proved innocent the stress of getting entangled in a criminal case, another trial by the media, and going down for posterity as “the guy who’s girlfriend killed herself” is enough to finish one off, at least temporarily. All this for a girl he knew for a month. Vora must be cursing his luck. And his lack of judgment.

One of the perks of being adults is the right to start and terminate relationships as and when we like, outside of marriage. Amicably, preferably. Promises in relationships are routinely broken, flouted and misused but in normal adult equations, suicide isn’t part of the deal. Ditching someone might be morally wrong but in the course of a lifetime it’s a crime many of us have been guilty of.

In India, where society and laws are a jumble of complicated contradictions, you’re way better off being born male. Once in a while though, with some of our gender based laws, the dice is heavily-loaded against men. If you reverse the suicide scenario, for example, let’s say a man hangs himself after a failed relationship blaming a girlfriend, I don’t see her having to seeking anticipatory bail. I’m not sure if such a precedent exists in India. The only case that comes to mind is when actor Rekha’s husband Mukesh Agarwal hung himself in 1991. Rekha wasn’t even questioned. Then there is the draconian, anti-dowry law, 498A where even a hint of dowry allegations by an unscrupulous woman to the cops can land a husband and his extended family in jail for an indefinite period. Sexual harassment accusations are equally prone to misuse. And almost nobody believes a man over a woman. A male friend of mine, who runs a successful export business, hired an experienced buying agent, twenty years older than him. Within six months he figured she was dipping into his cash and cutting deals on the side. When he confronted her she threatened to call the cops for attempted rape. Even his lawyer advised him to write off the money saying in the situation the police would turn extortionists and it would do irreparable damage to his reputation.

Coming back to Babajee, she was talking marriage with a guy five years younger who she’d known for a month. She was either a die-hard optimist or exceptionally confident. I happened to have spent some time with MTV anchor Nafisa Joseph, who also committed suicide in 2004, after a failed relationship with a Mumbai businessman, ironically enough, also called Gautam. Joseph was bubbly and well-mannered with a fragile air about her. It turns out her fiancé was lying about being divorced, which tipped her over the edge. Her utter self-absorption that surfaced in the two days we hung out in Gwalior prevented her from seeing everything she had going for her; a successful career, supportive parents and a bright future. At the risk of sounding horribly trite, success and good looks is no magic wand for happiness. Nor does it guarantee an ability to cope. Even a complete lack of perspective can do you in. hutkayfilms@gmail.com

Categories: Other news
  1. Rajesh G.
    July 12, 2010 at 10:58 am

    I am 34. And, I am terrified. I am scared to marry. I am scared to correct lady collegues to work professionally and honestly. Besides, I have submit to their unjust demands.
    I have briefly suffered “If she is saying then you must have done it” sydrome. It’s shattering. Verdict is spontaneous. Guilt is assumed and innocense has to be proven. I cannot carry audio/video recorder 24/7 with me. It is impracticle and may hurt more if found out. Things are becomig difficult in the office, on the road, in the bust or train etc.
    What to do? when the country is intentionally against us (men). I feel, am back to preindependence days.
    Problem is lot worse than U think it is. Our’s is a uncivilized barbaric society. And, that is the problem.
    I am thinking of leaving this country, once and for all. Also, I am more likely to revolt then commite suicide. I don’t want to be a freedom fighter. I just want to live.
    Now I know how terrorists/militants are born. Terrorism is only a desparate cry against injustice.

    Thank You For reporting this abuse. I felt some relief and hope.

  2. Rajesh
    July 13, 2010 at 9:51 am

    We know, and those fraimed these atrocious laws also knew the inevitable large scale misuse. Yet they, the vote-bank politicians, went ahead with it to please women community and femist NGOs. I get some solace in the fact that this (Sexual discrimination) is not the only instance where democratic systems (the politicians) are guilty of cheating and back stabing. They do it regularly and to much greater extent. This is just an instance of failure of Indian Democracry itself. Even a clean Democrary does not guarantee justice, it only guarantees “Majority wins”.
    Ignorance, Bias, corruption, and manipulation of data and public opinion by politicians and media, further aggravates the disparity.
    So, what now? Kinldy suggest.
    I will myself suggest few universal remedies in the next blog. Untill then, Thank You.
    May God save men from extinction!

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