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Martyrs of Marriage: The Stunning Documentary on the Abuse of Section 498A
While browsing through Youtube today, I came across a documentary titled ‘Martyrs of Marriage - Misuse of the Anti Dowry Law in India’ directed by Deepika Narayan Bhardwaj. In the past I have read about several instances of false charges of 498A, also known as the ‘Anti Dowry Law’, against men and their families in newspapers. So a documentary on the subject obviously piqued my interest.
The documentary gives voice to men and their families who have been falsely accused under 498A, the draconian law which mandates an FIR and arrest by the Police. It was heart wrenching to hear their stories, their struggles in the Kafkaesque legal system in India. Years from their life taken from them, along with their careers, their happiness, their reputations. Then, there are their families (including women) who have been arrested and sent to prison under the same law as co-accused and have had to fight their own legal battles.
The documentary delves deep into the legal analysis and social implications of the law through interviewing legal practitioners, police officers, social workers, lawmakers and affected families. I found myself staring at the same quandary while watching this documentary as the families of the accused men: how can a criminal law exist which doesn’t allow the accused any say? Non bailable and cognizable before any fair investigation.
Why wouldn’t it be abused?
It was crushing to learn about the men who have been targeted under this unjust law and couldn’t fight to the end and perished. To see their crying parents tell the final days of their sons was as sad as it can be. These stories are around us and people are swallowed into this battle everyday. I am stupefied at how little recourse men have of getting actual justice, even after they have been acquitted.
I applaud the effort of the director for bringing these stories to the society. These are not ‘popular’ stories which would win liberal creds, but they deserve being told. Following is the video.