Abused by wives, jobless and homeless husbands now have a place to go and live among kindred spirits – the Patni Pidit Ashram (PPA) in Aurangabad, where they can rest their weary heads and swap bossy-wife stories while planning out legal strategies to take on malevolent anti-husband forces.
Battered hubbies are fighting to be counted as a special category of citizens. There is anger against the justice system and the government. The PPA is the first of its kind of residency in India.
Recently, a ‘deputy collector’ arrived at the ashram gates and broke down. He told a tale of abuse at the hands of his wife and vowed to avenge three years of humiliation.
The deputy collector’s story was not much different from that of the seven other residents of Patni Pidit Ashram (PPA) set up by the Patni Pidit Sangathana (PPS), which has 850 members from different walks of life.
These men are bogged down by cases lodged against them by “overbearing” wives.
Both PPS and PPA were set up by businessman Bharat Asaram Phulare.
Phulare debunks the general view that wives are the harassed and abused ones. On the contrary, it’s the helpless husband who gets harassed, abused, thrashed and humiliated by his wife and her relatives.
Harassed husbands say the laws are stacked against them. The “manipulative” wife gets the house, the children and the money. It’s a woman’s world after all.
Phulare says his own dream of a happy married life soured within months. His wife quarreled with him on petty issues. Then she brought in her father, mother and brother into the fights.
“One day, after a fight, she lodged a police complaint against me. I managed to get the charges quashed,” says Bharat. “But she kept filing complaints one after another till their number rose to 147.”
Phulare went into hiding and could emerge clean only after all 147 cases were thrown out of court. But the trauma, humiliation and the sense of injustice remained.
Then, he found he was not alone. There were other men like him. Several of them were “homeless” because the “poor abused wife” threatened legal action and took possession of the house. Others had lost jobs because they turned into mental wrecks.
“They were afraid to talk. They avoided friends, relatives, even parents. They became lonely, beaten men,” says Bharat.
He decided to do something for “abused husbands”, extend them a helping hand. Result:
On November 19, 2016, PPA was opened to harried husbands. It was World Men’s Day!
PPA is located on a 1200 sqft plot – land gifted by his old mother – in Karodi Village, Waluj, on the Mumbai- Shirdi Highway, around 12 km from Aurangabad city.
It’s a shelter home as well as counseling centre. The PPA office occupies a room in the building where records of all 850 PPS members are kept.
Certain conditions apply for PPA residency –
• Must have atleast 20 cases registered against resident by wife
• Must be in no position to pay maintenance after divorc
• Must have done time in jail or could be jailed
• Must have lost job as well as home
• Does not want to marry again
• Must have certain skills and is willing to take up a job
Members wake up at 5 am. Yoga till 6 am. Breakfast from 8 to 9 am. Visitors till 11 am.
After lunch break those who have jobs go to work; those who have court hearings head for court. Return to ashram by 7 pm sharp, no excuses. Dinner at 8:30 pm and bedtime at 9:30 pm.
Ashram duties are fixed. Some prepare breakfast. Others lunch. Yet others dinner. Stay is free of cost. A resident can stay on till he gets a job, till he finds alternate home or has cases pending against him.
Currently, there are eight residents in PPA.
Crow the Sign
The male crow is the presiding deity of PPA. A miniature thermocol male crow graces its front room. Every PPA event starts with crow-worship. “A female crow lays eggs but it’s the male crow which guards the nest and takes care of the young ones. Similarly, the woman gives birth but it’s the man who takes care of the children,” says Phulare.
PPS/PPA does not get government funds. Members’ contributions help run both organisations.
A regular legal guidance Darbar is held every Saturday and Sunday from 10 am-6 pm.
Members from Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat and Karnataka participate.
PPS members are categorized in three groups…
• Category A is for husbands who come forward without fear and speak their mind.
• Category B is for husbands who are affected but feel it’s shameful to step up.
• Category C is husbands who are harassed but opt to keep mum.
Currently, there are 46 ‘A’ members, 152 ‘B’ and 165 ‘C’ members
Phulare says he wants to take his movement to the global stage. He is seeking support from human rights organizations and wants an amendment in the Domestic Violence Act as well as a separate law to guarantee security for abused husbands.
To spread the message, PPS holds motorcycle rallies and agitations. “We want to attract the government’s attention to this serious issue,” says Phulare.
What the law says?
The 1961 Dowry Prohibition Act was enacted to prohibit harassment of wife by the husband and his relatives. Section 498A was introduced in the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
But the Union government is aware of the misuse of section 498-A. According to a PTI report, Minister of State for Home affairs Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary, while replying to a written question in Rajya Sabha on May 13, 2015, said about 9 % of total cases filed under 498A were false or bad in law.
“The Domestic Violence Act should be amended as most of the cases filed under it are false. A separate Act is necessary for men,” says Bharat Phulare.
“No one thinks that a man could also be abused by his wife. This is the reason why there is no separate act to deal with such offences,” says Dasopant Dahiphale, legal advisor to PPA.
“Yes, in some cases there are false allegations made by wives. But this is very small figure,” says Manjusha Malwatkar, counselor, Women’s Studies, Aastha Janvikas Santha, Aurangabad.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau Reports, cases Filed under 498A and disposed of by Courts are as follows, Between 2007 and 2013, the number of cases filed under section 498A of the IPC was on the rise with roughly a 10% rise in the number of pending cases each year. The number of cases pending trial was around 2.67 lakh at the beginning of 2007. This number increased to 4.66 lakh at the beginning of 2013, a rise of almost 75% in 7 years.
Box – Case studies
Shaikh Rahim, 26, got married in 2013. Soon after marriage he found his wife was in an extramarital affair with his childhood friend. Rahim tried talking her out of the relationship but she refused. He took police help and they caught his wife and her “lover red-handed”.
But the police only took an undertaking from her not to repeat the “offence”. The undertaking was short-lived. She lodged complaints under Domestic Violence Act, IPC 498- 1 and CrPC 125. He took shelter in PPA six months ago after losing his job.
Pravin Ghale, 36, is a mechanical engineer of Wardha. Six years ago he joined a giant automobile company in Aurangabad. Being new to the company, he worked long hours.
His wife was not happy and kept complaining. One day she left him for her parents’ home.
Ghale followed her to Wardha. There he was allegedly beaten up by his wife’s relatives.
His wife also lodged cases against under sections 485 and 125. He had to spend a night in police lockup. On return to Aurangabad he met with an accident that kept him hospitalized for two months. He lost his job and was forced to move into PPA 18 months ago.
Bapu Tarwate, 55, was senior official in a renowned automobile company. After his first wife’s death, he remarried. He had two children from first wife. His second wife also had 2 children from first husband. Two years after second marriage, he discovered her extramarital affair. He questioned her and her parents. They retaliated with cases under Domestic Violence Act, sections 498, 125 and HMPT Act. Court ruled against him and him to pay alimony. Tarwate moved to PPA five months ago.