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Men too need gender equality: Activists (Nov 19 is International Men's Day)

New Delhi, Nov 18 (IANS) Why are men deprived of gender neutral laws? Why should not the domestic violence act be made gender neutral? And why are fathers deprived of children's custody in case of separated spouses? These are some of the posers by men's rights activists on the eve of International Men's Day.

Just like women, men too are victims of sexual harassment at workplaces, especially in urban India, according to Kumar V. Jahgirdar, president of Bangalore-based Child Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP).

This fact, he said, is not often acknowledged and, consequently, men continue to suffer silently.

"The recent changes in law related to workplace harassment must be made gender neutral so that victims who are male are also offered protection and justice."

For him, International Men's Day, which began in 1999 and is observed every year Nov 19, is a day to highlight the long ignored problems of men, especially those who are married.

Jahgirdar said men should get adequate paternity leave just like women.

"This will enable the dads to provide emotional and physical support to the infant baby."

Another men's rights activist Rajesh Vakharia, who is the president of Save India Family Foundation (SIFF), said: "As the world moves towards gender equality and gradual elimination of traditional gender roles, we have to keep reminding ourselves that gender equality is a two-way street."

"Freeing women from traditional gender roles is only one part of the game, which will achieve nothing, if attempts are not made to free men as well from traditional roles and social expectations," he said.

Vakharia said it was foolish to expect men to believe in gender equality and change their mindset, while expecting them to meet old traditional social expectations.

Giving examples, he said many men have come to him wondering why they are not given enough access to their children or shared parenting during separation while they changed the diapers and spent enough time nurturing their kids.

"The older men running Indian courts tend to believe that a man cannot nurture a child and taking care of children is primarily a mother's duty," he said.

Jahgirdar said it was strange that after 65 years of India's independence, not a single study has been done by the government that is related to the domestic and social life of a man and in understanding his problems.

"No study has been conducted by any government agency on reasons of more suicides by the married men than the women," he argued.

Quoting the National Crime Records Bureau report for 2013, he said 64,098 married men committed suicide as against 29,491 married women.

"It's startling to know that every nine minutes, a married man commits suicide in India."

SIFF founder member Anil Kumar asked: "If the whole world is about eliminating gender roles, then why no one questions the moral and legal duties of a man to pay maintenance and alimony to a working wife during separation?"

CRISP, with regional chapters in Delhi, Chandigarh, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Lucknow, Tuesday released a documentary film "Moustache", which showcased the problems faced by men in their day-to-day lives.

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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Updated Date: Nov 18, 2014 23:00:21 IST

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