Every year, the Mumbai Marathon sees participation from several organisations, the members of which sport increasingly stranger costumes. This year was no different. We saw a bunch of men dressed as ATMs demanding their rights.
Around 150 men from the Vaastav Foundation ran the marathon, shouting slogans for men's rights and carried banner saying "Men's rights are human rights" or "Husband is not an ATM."
Amit Deshpande, founder of the Vaastav Foundation told Quartz, "The anti-dowry laws and rape-related laws in India favour women. The idea behind justice is that one is innocent until proven guilty, but our system is such that this primary idea is inverted and such laws are misused by women against men. Male rape and male sexual harassment is not recognised. Laws to deal with such evils should be there. We just want that they be gender neutral."
While women's rights bodies are often seen organising protests and marches, we don't often see men speak against gender biases. The Vaastav Foundation's march was well informed and nuanced. Not the kinds that go for women bashing.
Quartz quotes Deshpande as saying, "A man is forced to be an ATM for his family and if he fails to protect his wife or provide for her, he is immediately accused of mistreating her. More number of boys are being forced to drop out of school to take care of their families because the rules of patriarchy expect them to provide."
Men and women across the world are unfortunately victims of this system. While women are made to abide by forced gender roles of becoming the nurturer, the man has to be the provider — whether they like it or not.
Perhaps such movements and protests can create awareness about the fact that society assigned gender roles — a woman being the sensitive and understanding one, and the man being the stoice provider — need to change.