What Should I Fear in a Dowry Case?

दहेज केस में डरने वाली क्या बात है?
Why do men fear dowry related allegations?
Most of the questions that men who are accused of dowry harassment by their wives ask the people around them are triggered by the fears that they have suddenly started to have. It is natural to be concerned somewhat if you have police proceedings against you and your family. More so if you are a person who has never faced criminal charges in your whole life. Ninety nine percent of the men who face 498a charges are the type of men who have never been accused of any crime in their life. Their aged parents are even more innocent than them.

Further fears are created by the powerful social forces and vested interests which stand to benefit from fearful defendants. There is a whole 498a industry consisting of lawyers, feminists, corrupt law enforcement officers, media, and of course wives and their parents. These people have a vested stake in scaring men accused of cruelty by their wives. The second thing that you must remember is that the more you get scared, the more money these vested interests will make. The first thing to remember is that the aim of your 'wife' and 'in-laws' is not to send you to jail. They wish to profit from your fears and your desire to mitigate the harassment which you are facing, and are afraid of facing for a prolonged period.

What are the fears that men accused under section 498a/406/34 usually have?
Such men are usually afraid that they will have to go to jail, or that they will have to spend a few days in police custody, or that their homes will get raided by the police. They fear that their elderly parents will suffer health problems due to the stress inflicted by the running around, worrying, and the fear of an uncertain future.

They fear beatings or torture at the hands of the police during interrogation. They fear that people will start looking down upon them. Bad publicity in the media is another worrisome thing. And they fear mental torture by a public which is sympathetic to women's causes (read wives' causes). They are also afraid that the judiciary is biased in favour of wives, and that they may fail to get anticipatory bail, or may have to spend years in jail.

They also start to realise pretty soon that learning the ropes of the legal rigmarole is an expensive process littered with unexpected expenses, and spoiling of relations with the people who they expect to help them. They also fear, and wish to avoid harassment by their lawyer, and fear that the lawyer will not have their best interests at heart, or that he may be secretly supporting the other side. It is impossible to make a general statement regarding the validity of such fears. It is also difficult to say whether such fears are justified in particular cases without looking at them in detail, and sometimes even after doing so.

What men trapped in dowry cases do as a result of their fears
Many men lose their jobs in such a situation due to an inability to concentrate on work. Almost all of them lose their mental health. They start smoking or drinking or other forms of substance abuse. They stand the risk of falling ill due to neuropsychiatric or psychosomatic reasons (physical harm caused to the body due to poor mental health). They also make compromises and pay large amounts of money in order to get their cruel wives off their backs, and to bring the nightmare to an early end. They also end up losing money to exploitative lawyers due to stress-induced impairment of judgement. They worry about their parents, and their parents worry about them, and all of them lose their peace of mind as a result. In extremely bad cases the husband's family witnesses a suicide or more than one suicide amongst its members.

Are these fears justified?
No. They are not justified. The fact that you are afraid is (in itself) the worst punishment which you will have to undergo. And it is in your hands to a large extent to start fearing less, acting a little more, and relaxing a lot more. The lawmakers and the media may be blind to your needs or to the demands of justice, but the public, the people at the police station, the judiciary, your neighbours, and the growing men's rights movement are in your favour. Just as you will lose old 'friends' in this situation, you will gain new friends too, and you will grow as a result of both processes.

You will not be beaten by the police, and they will give you a chair to sit every time you visit them. Your house will not be raided unless you are one of the rarest of rare cases, but remember not to accept any jewellery from your next wife (in case you do decide to marry again) and to sell off all your mother's jewellery before you get married again. Jewellery can bring nothing but trouble to an Indian husband.

You will get anticipatory bail if you are one of the overwhelming majority of 498a accused. Your lawyer is your friend. Do not mistrust him/her unless you chose him carelessly without conducting due diligence. Jail is not going to happen very soon, if it happens at all. It will take 15 years for your case to get settled if you fight till the final appeal, AND the other party has the stamina and desire to keep fighting for this length of time. Make sure that you select your lawyer carefully. Do not select your lawyer in a hurry just because you have an irrational fear of being arrested without warning.

That person called a woman and your wife (while being neither as a matter of fact) is not a mind-reader and is unlikely to go all the way or to not settle for anything less than what she is asking today.

Dowry and domestic violence related laws have already become a laughing stock amongst the police and the judiciary in this country, due to their rampant misuse. Rape and sexual violence related laws appear to be headed that way too. The making of such laws is grave disservice to –and a crime against– members of both genders.

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Published by Manish Udar

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Last updated on 27th October 2013
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