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This article is written by Miss Srestha Nandy, from IMS Unison University, Dehradun. This is an exhaustive article which deals with the issues related to provisions to the male in an organization and society as compared to females under Indian Laws. 

Introduction

Did you ever think about the role of mother and father towards their kid or kids? It is a lifetime job with endless responsibilities till death. Starting early in the morning from preparing the breakfast for all the members of the family, dressing up the children for their school, packing their lunches, tying their shoelaces to getting them to the school buses. All these household chores get done only with the help of our parents; helping and supporting each other every moment. So, here it will be unfair if we only consider our mothers’ effort. As equally do our fathers get engaged with our daily indoor works, so they also deserve to get appreciation. 

This is the 21st century and we are living in nuclear families where our society can be considered as a witness. In a lot of households, fathers do help mothers with household chores. We live in a post-modern society with most of the parents working and trying to maintain a decent work-life balance. But what about society? Do they still stick to the stigma which revolves around the scenario where men are the only breadwinners and women are at their respective houses engaged with housekeeping and child-rearing? 

The prejudice towards men

Today when one scrolls through any page related to equality on social media, definitely an individual will come across the word ‘feminism’, or in simpler words, the post will be in favor of seeking equality for women. Along with social media awareness about equality, our legal system provides laws to safeguard the interests of women and upholds their liberty, dignity, etc. Article 15 clause 3 of the Indian Constitution specifically for women and children, states that there shall be no discrimination on the grounds of gender it also mentions that the state shall make provisions specifically for women and children. Even to make the comparison with men more interesting we also have generic movies like Manikarnika, Mardaani, Pink, Neerja, and many others. So in all these the concepts of strong women are pretty clear. But here is something important, we are forgetting men, our fathers, our brothers, our uncles. Are we not ignoring the efforts of the male members present in the family, who are supporting the females to shine, to achieve success. The efforts of the father ensure that his daughter has proper education, becomes independent, and is one of the eminent strong women. Asking for equality is good, but comparing with men, criticizing them, and taking advantage of their abilities is not at all justified. 

Most of the time society assumes that whenever there is a sexual assault, the victim will be a female and the predator would be a male. But that’s not always true.. But if the same question is asked to males, in most of the cases the reply would be nothing but silence. The reason behind such response by males is because society has molded their mindset that these are casual for them unlike women, and in case anybody feels this disturbing, they have been a victim of sexual assault, then without raising a voice against it, one starts doubting oneself only, that they are not functioning according to the expectations of the society and will consider this as shame. The aspect of consent regarding males is as important as in the case of a female. And due to this in the majority of the cases, men do lack the knowledge about what counts as sexual assault when it happens to them. They somehow start developing self-doubt instead of realizing that it happened against their will, in simple terms, it can be termed as a forceful act. Even an act of undressing someone against one’s will can be counted as sexual assault, this is because for a  long time movies and serials have portrayed that shirtless heroes are more acceptable for the audience, those who have a good body get the maximum attention, even that person enjoys the fame. But in reality, it is not at all the same, some males get uncomfortable with all these acts.  

In a study, the statistics provide that women using offensive content online are mostly excused, while in the case of men this act is taken seriously. According to this survey  4 out of 10 people have experienced online harassment, out of which, 30 percent are men who received threats and 20 percent are women. 

In organizational scenarios often male workers are humiliated by female bosses. Sometimes they are asked to lift their shirt and show their muscles, or undergo sexual acts for promotions. Even sometimes the men are falsely accused of harassment. As we do have records of false rape cases in India, so this is not at all unusual. Even 51% out of 527 men had faced sexual harassment in metros in many countries.

Men do report these to the HR departments but due to lack of provisions, these cases never make it to the headlines. Sometimes for many individuals, it becomes difficult to complain as they fear that they might be the subject of gossip to others and their masculinity will turn into a matter of joke. Also, it does happen that those men who straight often tease other men by making fun of their nature. Indian reality does also witness men being the victim of domestic violence, but most of the reports are not recorded, also men are afraid to file a complaint favoring themselves as the victim, due to the threat that this would lead to their arrest only, this is because of the societal stigma of perceiving female to be the weak ones and the victim, and may assume that the person is faking the incident so as to escape from the charges of sexual assault imposed on him. 

Provisions for female

The provision of 498A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 is fully biased toward women. This provision lacks the grounds where a woman can be held liable for domestic violence towards men. Even for the divorce under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, women have nine more grounds to raise against men, one of which is impotence. Nobody wants to be impotent, so in case of a misrepresentation by the female for her, some disability in her conceiving capacity for giving birth or infertility is never a ground for a man to sue her with a plight of divorce. 

Talking about our working mothers, there is a whole act, The Maternity Benefit Act, 2017, supporting their paid leaves from their workplace which are granted for the well-being of their child. But what about the father? For a father, it is only 15 days a year. He is also a parent, he also has a child to take care of. As much as the mother needs to be present with the child, the father also does. But how can he? The provisions regarding the leaves are only mentioned under the leave rules, for State and Central Employees. Only 8.2% of the maternity leave is provided to the male employees having children, as paternity leaves. Even the term ‘paternity’ signifies parents which include both the parents. But what about the real scenario? The reality is biased for the mothers and to those females who are expecting, and accordingly, the provisions are framed. Partly during the birth of a child, the mother undergoes several procedures related to health issues, taking care of the baby, but the legislature ignores the fact that without the support of the other partner’s, things are really difficult.   

Also, there is one more thing, we often ignore it that one man marries an unemployed woman, takes all her responsibility and expenses while this is never done vice-versa. So where is equality in this aspect? Here society only expects the man to be the breadwinner.  

Some of the aspects related to inequality in the real world

In this instance, being a parent unlike women men do not have a whole act, as legal support. Also, one of the important aspects that till now India does not have any laws in favor of homosexual couples, where the acceptance of homosexual couples has been approved in 2018. So in their case, it becomes a major issue for the sanction of paternity leave, in respect to this, people who are parents through surrogacy and adoption also suffer. There were researches to explore whether there is equality in the case of paid leaves for both homosexual and heterosexual couples. It has been found that in The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, there are equal provisions for both, same-sex and different-sex types of couples. But in the case of females in the case of same-sex and different-sex receive equal durations of leave, but this is not the same for the male partners. The same-sex male couple often receives a shorter duration of parental leave as compared to both types of couples. 

From further research, it has been found out that countries like Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, and Sweden are the only countries that have the same policies regarding paid paternity leaves for all couples from 80 to 70 weeks. But in the case of India, there are only some reputed organizations that provide paid parental leaves to same-sex couples. For example, Zomato is the first company to provide a paid leave of 26 weeks for both parents. Further, they stated that the company will provide $1000 per child as an endowment to parents of the newborn child working in the company. This policy is also applied to same-sex partners, surrogacy, and adoption. The founder of Zomato, Deepinder Goyal also said “There won’t be even an iota of difference in parental leave policy for men and women at Zomato.” He also mentioned that an unequal leave policy for men and women incurs imbalances at the higher positions in the organization. As regards this, why are our government organizations not taking this as a matter of concern? Now we have the support of Section 377 of IPC, in favor of our claim. Till today we have no laws favoring the adoption of homosexual couples, leave policy for surrogate mothers, and even for single parents. In contrast to our developing economy, the policies formulated by our legislation are still not at the same pitch.

Practical scenario with case laws

Cases are also present to this aspect of paternity leave, where the petitioner has applied for the paternity leave, due to fewer provisions regarding this specific aspect, in most of the circumstances justice is not served. At the time also the concerned authority did not sanction the leave and further asked him to apply under the existing policies for leave. The petitioner in the case of Chander Mohan Jain v. N.K. Bagrodia Public School and Ors Delhi High Court were Post Graduate teachers of the N.K. Bagrodia Public School, and to the records of the concerned organization, there were no existing policies for paternity leave. Since 2009 and before that, the employees and other professionals have been facing this issue without proper legal support. When a matter is not settled and reaches the court, the verdict takes a lot of time to arrive and in the majority of the cases, the petitioners are bound by terms and conditions.  Again with another petition, in the case of Vijender Kumar v. Delhi Transport Corporation, the salary has been deducted for 15 days, of the employee and had been regarded as absent for the mentioned time interval. Here the petitioner was a driver at Delhi Transport Corporation and had applied for paternity leave for his second newborn, to which it was denied with the justification that there are no policies favoring paternity leave for DTC employees. The aforesaid situation is another instance, where employees are suffering financial losses only due to blurred policies. 

A genuine demand for change

So hereby after coming across so many instances, wherein the majority of the cases men are being deprived of justice, due to lack of provisions, it feels like there is an urgent need to undergo some modifications to the existing provisions favoring men especially. There should be gender-neutral laws. There should be provisions supporting all kinds of circumstances, from a homosexual couple to single parents. The present scenario also consists of male widows bearing two children. So our government needs to ensure such policies that these children may not be deprived of parental care due to lack of policies and workload of the workplace. In cases of sexual assault faced by men, the authorities who are the first to record the complaint or report, should not be judgemental, they are the ones who can motivate the male victims to raise their voices for the injustice done to them. They should create a supportive environment so that in case of rape against a male, he can straightaway approach the police to file an FIR under Section 154 of The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, which states that it is the duty of the officer in charge to take the report in the case of sexual assault or any other cognizable offenses. 

Conclusion

Now it’s high time for the legislature to understand that men and women are now more or less in the same position in society. Due to modernization, both are earning and contributing to the society for the development of the society only. So the old laws and statutes are in urgent need of improvement and should be modified in such a manner that they might not cause discrimination based on gender.   

References

  •  Maneka Gandhi vs Union Of India on 25 January 1978 AIR 597, 1978 SCR (2) 621
  •  The Maternity Benefit Act 2017
  • Chander Mohan Jain vs. N.K. Bagrodia Public School and Ors Delhi High Court Sept 9 2009
  • Vijender Kumar vs Delhi Transport Corporation, GOVT of NCTD, Central Administrative Tribunal March 15, 2016.

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