U.S. must stop exporting weapons of family destruction
By Uma Challa
Pearl S. Buck once wrote, "The lack of emotional security of our American young people is due…to their isolation from the larger family unit…no mere father and mother…are enough to provide emotional security for a child. He needs to feel himself one in a world of kinfolk, persons of variety in age and temperament, and yet allied to himself by an indissoluble bond..."
The much envied Indian family structure is, in fact, based on mutual tolerance and coexistence of persons belonging to different generations, and provides safety and security to individuals at all stages of life. The larger family also acts as a buffer to mitigate everyday stress and helps minimize conflicts between inexperienced married couples. This stable and time-tested cultural institution has suffered the most serious assaults due to the export of family-breaking ideologies originating in the Western world. Understanding and tolerance to build harmonious marital relationships, are now being projected as a form of slavery. To make things worse, senseless U.S. anti- family laws, which have literally destroyed trust between American men and women, are now being thrust on India, without any heed to cultural relevance, social consensus, or the presence of a suitable law enforcement system for their proper implementation.
The heavily critiqued Domestic Violence Act is the Indian clone of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) which assumes that victims of domestic violence are always women. Further, it assumes that women are always honest, and, hence, requiring proof of their claims is unnecessary. The accused man, however, is presumed guilty until proven innocent. In an overzealous attempt to cover all forms of real or perceived violence against women, feminist organizations have drafted this ludicrous piece of legislation, which provides enormous scope for its misuse by unscrupulous wives/girlfriends (current or former) against men and their kin. Victims of female aggression (men, women or children) are offered no legal protection whatsoever.
Most importantly, the implementation of such laws depends on a law enforcement system replete with corrupt officials who, for their own monetary gains, embolden women to take undue advantage of the credibility granted to them by Indian law. The misuse of draconian anti-dowry laws, like Section 498A of Indian Penal Code, is so widespread that the Supreme Court of India termed the practice as "Legal Terrorism". It has been established that 98% of cases claiming any form of harassment under the anti-dowry laws are false, and are mainly filed by wives who seek to threaten, extort money from, and wreak revenge on husbands and their relatives, in case of marital discord. The Domestic Violence Act also lent itself to misuse immediately after its introduction in October 2006.
The export of destructive feminist ideologies and anti-family laws has broken many Indian homes, depriving children of a healthy childhood. A report by the World Health Organization cited misuse of anti-dowry laws as a major factor contributing to the increasing abuse of the elderly in India. News reports also revealed that many falsely charged, poor and illiterate women are languishing in prison every year until they are bailed out or released. Many individuals have ended their lives unable to endure the humiliation of being arrested and the trauma of fighting false cases, which typically span 5-7 years. There is also an increasing number of unhappy women who, misled by false notions of liberation and empowerment, shunned the simple joys of family life that no women's organization can restore.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, "the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society, and is entitled to protection by society and the State." It also states, "men and women,…, are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution." It declares that "all are equal before the law, and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law." Most importantly, it proclaims that "everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law."
Amnesty International should recognize that all the above mentioned rights of thousands of innocent Indian men and women are being violated everyday under the guise of women-protection laws. Amnesty International should first examine the social and cultural implications of every legislation (domestic and international) that affects the family unit in any country, and ensure the presence of a reliable and efficient law enforcement machinery to implement the laws. Ignoring these crucial concerns and pushing for more laws like International-VAWA will only destroy many more lives and families.
Uma Challa is an activist who fights against gender-biased laws which are harming the Indian family system. She can be reached at email@example.com.