Sitting alone on Marine Drive, wearing shades and with a cigarette in his hand, he was looking thoughtfully into the sea when I went in and interrupted his chain of thoughts. Reluctant in the beginning, Haji Aiyub opened up and started talking about himself. He is from Gujarat and has lived a long time in England and South America. “This place (Marine Drive) is my favourite in Mumbai”, said Aiyub with a smile. He visits Mumbai frequently for office works. However, this time, he was here for a wedding.
Reminiscing about his international tours Aiyub said, “Hindu, Muslim are only political identities in India.” and claims that every country is ‘pro-India’. He further states that foreign countries do not recognise the religious demarcations prevalent in India, “Indians are only Indians abroad.”
Apart from a unified Indian identity outside India, he also recognised the similarity between the Blacks and the Whites of South Africa. “Every South African, be it a Black or a White greeted an Indian in the same manner, by joining their hands,” said Aiyub with a proud smile.
During his years in other countries, Aiyub has realised the Importance of being in his own country and do not like to indulge in the politics of religion.
Few weeks ago, I watched a web series named ‘Man’s World’. It is a satire on ‘What if women treated men, the way men treat women’. There was an office scene where the female boss promoted the male employee and asked for “favours” in return. I found it really funny to find a female doing this to a man. But then, I thought for a moment and asked will this be funny if it was about my father, brother or a friend?
And, I realised, we really don’t need to reverse the situation because, in some cases, men are at receiving end. Like women, they also face harassment both at the workplace as well as at home. The word ‘sexual harassment’ is mostly identified with women. However, with men, it goes unnoticed.
Even our law has ignored this part. The laws such as 354,509 and 376 of the IPC deals with sexual assault, namely outraging the modesty of a woman, eve teasing and committing rape of a woman, and all these laws are only formulated to protect women, which is absolutely correct. Crime against women is increasing day by day and we should have laws to protect them. But, to protect one gender, we should not ignore the other gender.
While we have a number of laws to keep the women safe, there is no law protecting men from sexual harassment, except section 377 of the IPC. It is the only form in which a man can complain of a wrong sexual advancement. Section 489A in IPC was formulated to protect women from dowry. However, it is one of the most abused law.
Women have filed a sexual harassment case against men on petty issues such as non-agreement on any topic. While researching, I came across a case where two neighbours filed sexual harassment case against each other’s husband just because of constant fights over parking. A very famous case is the ‘Rohtak Girl’s’ case.
And, even after all this torture, men are still reluctant to report such cases of harassment. This is because they fear they will end up being arrested themselves. Another reason is the societal perception of masculinity. Mard ko Dard nahi hota, remember? And even if they report, cases like these do not get much of the media attention.
In a world, where we are fighting for equal rights, this issue holds as much importance on issues related to women. Although, for many years men have been abusing women but it may not always be right to tag them as abuser or harasser. The world is changing fast and so are these tags.