“Men have emotions too, they also need support, but how many of us actually care?” These words of Barkha Trehan compelled us to think- Do we really think about the social rights of men? Why do we often forget about the issues related to our male counterparts? Taking a much-needed step towards Gender Equality, Barkha Trehan, India’s first Men’s Rights activist discards all gender-specific prejudice and stereotypes.
Raising her dauntless voice, she takes the cause of men’s rights to the masses and makes it a mass movement. She advocates the protection of males against abuse, male empowerment, and the legitimate rights of male victims. Building a gender-neutral society, Barkha institutes India’s first and only International Men’s Day celebrations. Upholding the flag of social justice, she laid the foundation of Purush Aayog- National Commission for Men, a civil society organisation.
Her YouTube show #MenKiBaat demands justice for men. She also Directed and Produced a documentary film, “The CURSE Of Manhood” which represents the unheard cries for justice of Indian men.
In an exclusive conversation, Barkha Trehan sheds light on her journey as India’s first Men’s Rights activist.
Tell us about yourself and your organisation Purush Aayog.
I am an entrepreneur cum social activist. Well supported by my husband and kids, I have an outgoing personality. I have always fought against injustice and isn’t afraid to swim against the tide. When the outcry was of women’s victimisation, I realised the scenarios in which a woman faces discrimination and men are marginalised even more.
When women face violence, they are well protected by law but men do not have similar liberty. Husbands are punished for cruelty against their wives but if husbands face cruelty, they have no respite. On the contrary, I found that men do not have any forum to be heard. Therefore, I decided to provide a platform for men where they can be heard equivocally without being judged.
Why do you think that there is a lack of awareness about men’s rights in our society?
Indian society is traditionally considered a patriarchal society, however, it’s balanced; men and women play their roles to maintain social harmony. However, because of solely following patriarchy as philosophy in changing times where there are role reversals of both men and women in changing socio-political situations, men are suffering at the hands of women but the same is not considered in the guise of empowerment. Legal bias and imbalance further strengthen women’s situation and men are left to prejudice.
Why do you think that the prevailing law system is not sufficient to give equal rights to everyone?
I think that the prevailing law system should be reframed, keeping in mind the equal rights of all citizens. The law should be equal for every gender, be it women, men or transgenders. As a men’s rights activist, I came across cases where a man is falsely accused of rape or domestic violence. Delhi High Court has raised concern over the alarming increase in false cases related to rape, dowry and domestic violence. The absence of a “no-misuse clause” in these acts could be one of the reasons for this increase.
I remember a case in which a man was jailed for 20 years for rape charges. After the investigations and court proceedings, he was found innocent and falsely accused in the rape case. His entire life changed in those 20 years; everything was finished for him. Such is the impact of false cases on men. That’s why we are demanding equal law so that we can save every life from injustice.
What is that one piece of advice that you want to give everyone?
Be fearless. Men are often traumatised and unheard, they face a trust deficit especially when a woman is a complainant. Men become vulnerable when women are perpetrators. They need to gather courage, become emotionally strong and fight for their rights however biased the law may be.