Family, Femininity, Feminism: 'Structures of Feeling' in the Articulation of Men's Rights
Since the early 1990s, India has witnessed the growing visibility of groups demanding legal rights for men. Such men's rights collectives operate with the understanding that a widespread neglect of men's welfare in the country has, in recent years, been exacerbated by the influence of feminism and women's activism on social life in general, and legal processes in particular. Formed with the objective of countervailing the supposedly unbridled misuse of pro-women laws – particularly those laws which pertain to the institution of family – men's rights organizations are dedicated to providing legal counselling to male ‘victims’ and their families, mobilizing the media to advocate men's issues, and dialoguing with state actors to roll back legal reforms designed to safeguard women against patriarchal exploitation. The principal grouse of men's rights groups in India is S498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) – alleged cruelty to married women. Added in 1983, this section makes harassment of women in the marital home a nonbailable, noncompoundable, cognizable offence, and empowers the police to make immediate arrests. Their chagrin is directed also at S304B of the IPC (assumed dowry death of married women); S406 of the IPC (criminal breach of trust); various sections of the Dowry Prohibition Act (1961); Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (2005); S125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (1973); sections 18, 24 and 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act; various provisions of the Special Marriage Act; and the Guardians and Wards Act (1890).