By Sapphira Beth
Men’s Rights Activism is something that’s currently still taking up roots in most parts of the world, with men thinking that they are somehow supposedly being systematically oppressed by “feminism”.
Within Indian boundaries, the men’s rights movement has been steadily growing with even women showing support and advocating for men’s rights. This all started with section 498(A) of the Indian Penal Code, which is addressed at dowry-related violence towards women at the hands of her husband or her in-laws. Although there is always a small percentage that the law itself might be misused, the very fact still remains that dowry is still a big part of the mainland Indian culture and the deaths and violence that does occur due to such practices and those number outweigh the small percentage of false cases.
The movement spent mostly to discredit the violence and oppression that women face on a daily basis put men at the forefront of being victims of ‘gender biased laws’ and ‘feminist propaganda’ without actually acknowledging the men who do face persecution and violence, ignoring queer men Dalit-Bahujan-Adivasi men, men who don’t adhere to the traditional notions of masculinity who reject toxic masculinity, neurodivergent men, etc. While rarely if ever focusing on sexual violence faced by men and boys.
In a survey by Swasti Health Resource Centre, spanning across five Indian states, it was found that an average of 52% of gay men who don’t have peer support suffer violence.
Upon talking to a friend of mine who is gay himself and slightly more effeminate, he talked about the bullying and harassment he faced and currently faces in school, from rape threats to having been molested and forced to watch straight porn to turn him straight, to being told by teachers to stop being so effeminate and that that was the reason he was not doing so well in his studies. Also, with the internet being so anonymous and feedback sites like sayatme existing, the amount of comments and threats he receives on there is enough to make my skin crawl with disgust.
What doesn’t surprise me is how open people are with their abuse, especially when it comes to men like him, making memes and dehumanizing them for being the way they are, to the extent that health care professionals refuse to allow men who they presume to be homosexual to donate blood.
A recent incident took place in Delhi, the national capital, where a policeman was seen to lathi charged, slapped, and verbally abused gay man who happened to hug his friend, a trans woman These incidences happen quite often with even a friend of mine having been questioned by the Delhi police on whether he was a man or a woman and was asked how much he charged.
Transgender men barely have the visibility they need as compared to transgender women, and most people usually assign being transgender to being a transgender woman, so trans men have to fight harder to be heard in a country where our parliament still wants to pass the regressive Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016.
If MRAs in India were willing to focus on these queer men who don’t have proper visibility, to actually try sensitizing people on issues faced by them and other men who remain unheard in this cisgender-heterosexual male-dominated country, and if they took strides aside from bashing the credibility of women that come forward to talk about the abuse they have faced, and hurling insults at feminists who are actually trying to make people more aware of how these intersections affect the general population, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.