November 24, 2015
By Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
Meanwhile, half way around the world, family court reform activists in India are mounting a movement for shared parenting in that nation of over one billion people. Read about it here (The Times of India, 11/19/15).
A century ago, women had started feeling the need to assert themselves and their needs. Today, men have started to feel the same pressure and the need to speak about the problems they face everyday for belonging to the gender they do. Men’s rights activists believe that over the last few decades, the tide has turned against men, making them the subject of much social discrimination.
Phrases like ‘Be a man’ and ‘Don’t cry like a girl’ seem as offensive to the men these days as they do to feminists. The social expectations from men and the pressure to fulfil them are lopsided, according to several men’s rights organizations. It is because of these reasons that they find it important to mark International Men’s Day, which falls on November 20 this year.
"The contributions and sacrifices that men make for their families, and the society at large, are generally taken for granted or trivialized. This is because they are ‘supposed’ to do these things. In the name of promotion of women’s rights, the society has become indifferent towards the welfare of men," said men’s rights activist and founder member of NGO Child Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP) Kumar Jahgirdar.
So CRISP and other shared parenting organizations have made a list of demands, not only for legal reform but to raise awareness of the issues faced by fathers and their children.
DEMANDS OF ACTIVISTS
Undertake research on men’s health
A dedicated ministry to safeguard men’s rights and welfare or setting up of men’s commission
Make laws gender-neutral, especially those regarding dowry, domestic violence and rape cases
Extend the Domestic Violence Act, 2005, to include husbands
Make shared parenting mandatory in case of divorce/separation
Stop treating all men as potential rapists, perpetrators of crime and indulging in domestic violence
Provide for adequate paternity leave by law in order to provide emotional and physical support to newborn
Earlier this year, I attended a retreat at which one Indian activist detailed his organization’s activities. I was impressed. I came away with the feeling that, in many ways, the worldwide movement toward shared parenting may be most dynamic in India.
Whatever the case, it’s worth remembering that family court reform in the direction of shared parenting is gaining momentum around the globe.