Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi might hold that the role of men in gender sensitisation is critical since "all the violence is male-generated", but an NGO working for safeguarding the interest of men has pointed out the general perception of 'male dominated society' and lack of protection laws for men could be leading to more men than women committing suicide in the country.
Data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has revealed that out of the 131,666 suicides in the country in 2014, 89,129 were by men and 42,537 by women.
"Suicides are one area which exhibit the social trauma and mental status of men. The NCRB's 2014 data illustrates the vulnerable situation men are in in the present scenario. Every 5.84 minutes (on an average), a man commits suicide in India. Family disputes are the single largest reason for male suicides," Amit Gupta, president of NGO National Coalition of Men, told IANS in an interview.
Gupta extended his logic to why incidence of suicides is higher among men.
"Men have been deprived of basic human rights like equality in the eye of the law. Domestic violence, as defined by law, is any form of physical, mental, economical or sexual abuse. However, the male fraternity, which is 53 percent of the population, doesn't come under the ambit of this law," Gupta pointed out.
India's population is 1.25 billion.
"India leads in the world in suicides by men. Statistics reveal negligible steps and lack of initiatives to protect men. The 2014 NCRB data reveals that 89,129 men committed suicide compared to 42,537 women. In 2013, 90,543 men and 44,256 women committed suicide," Gupta noted.
(On Monday, in reply to a question while interacting live with users on Facebook, as part of the ministry's '#100Women' initiative launched in July, Gandhi said the role of men in gender sensitisation was the most critical since "all the violence is male-generated. We have introduced (the concept of) 'Gender Champions' in schools, under which boys who have been respectful and helpful to girls will be rewarded".)
The states with the highest number of suicides are Maharashtra (12.4 percent), Tamil Nadu (12.2), West Bengal (10.9) and Karnataka (8.3). Eleven states account for 82.6 percent of suicides while the remaining 18 states have recorded just 17.4 percent of the suicides.
"Out of the total suicides in the country (131,666), 59,744 were by married men and 27,064 by married women. In 2014, the suicides by married men dropped by seven percent compared to suicides (64,098) in 2013.
"The grim scenario that men face today is due to the perception that India is a male-dominated society. But men here even lack basic things like gender-neutral laws and distress centres," Gupta said.
As per the NCRB data, the single largest reason for suicides in the country (21.7 percent) is family disputes. Marriage-related issues account for another 5.1 percent of the cases while love affairs account for 3.2 percent of the suicides.
"Men are completely on a barren land, especially if the complainant is a woman in the case of family disputes. The 65 crore (650 million) male population does not have a law to protect themselves in case they face cruelty or any form of domestic abuse," Gupta pointed out.
He said that while there are the women and child welfare departments in the central and state governments, there is no ministry or department dedicated to welfare of men, including their health issues which lead to a lot of suicides.
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)