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'Harassed husbands' to celebrate I-Day Friday
Thursday August 15, 2013 10:27 PM, IANS

An NGO fighting for shared parenting in case of divorce or separation will celebrate Independence Day Friday, with a pledge to strengthen the struggle for equal rights to men and women and gender-neutral marital laws.

"We are not participating in the celebrations Thursday to mark the country's Independence Day. We, a group of men who are seeking parenting rights and joint custody of their child, are meeting in Nagpur Friday to demand 'freedom' from women-centric laws," founder and president Kumar V. Jahgirdar of Child Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP), told IANS.

He said more than 100 men from across the country would chalk out a plan for "equal rights" and "freedom" from "estranged" wives.

CRISP, which has been fighting for the rights of fathers and children for more than five years, in partnership with Save Indian Family, has organised this annual event. This year is the fifth time the event is being organised.

Among the issues slated for discussion during the summit are Marriage Laws Amendment Bill of 2010.

"The law makers have an assumption that children always live with the mother and she alone is enough to protect the child's welfare which is simply unscientific and against nature. It also violates the spirit of the Indian constitution," Jahgirdar said.

The bill, he said, also allows the mother to claim paternal ancestral property and the children's share of it, which can also lead to likely misappropriation by step-fathers and step-siblings.

"The government of the people seems to be more interested in women's rights than innocent children's rights, simply because children are not vote banks, though they represent more than 40 percent of our population," he said.

Another member, Manpreet Bhandari, a software engineer in Bangalore, said: "Men have no platform to lodge a complaint when they face harassment from their wives."

Most of the time, he said, the wives extort money by lodging false dowry cases and even deny the right of a father to meet his children, even when he has the court's consent.

CRISP, with regional chapters in Chandigarh, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi and Lucknow, has been demanding access to children equally, to both the separated parents. It has also sought the setting up of special courts to deal with child custody cases.

"We urge society and its stakeholders to treat fathers with dignity and accept the scientific fact that children deserve their father's natural love and care as much as their mother," a statement from CRISP said.

According to the data available with CRISP, more than 20,000 divorce cases are pending in family courts in Bangalore alone. The figure was collected from family courts.

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