The harassed husbands of India

Madhavankutty Pillai in Open magazine:

The harassed husbands of Borivali, one of the last suburbs on Mumbai’s Western Railway line, used to meet in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park until it began to charge Rs 30 as an entry fee. So they switched to the Veer Savarkar Udyan, a smaller park some distance away, where there is a pond in the middle, abutting which are a series of steps. The husbands take seats on these every Sunday, starting at 11 am. On the day that I go, there are about six of them, plus a mother-in-law and father-in-law. The numbers go up and down. Jinesh Zaveri, who coordinates the Borivali group, shows a text message from someone named Manish. It says, ‘might not be able to come. Meeting my lawyer.’ Another regular Rahul, is in Delhi because his wife has filed a case against him there, and he has to go to the city whenever it comes up. Another member is in Ghazipur for his case, and, says Jinesh, every lawyer he hires ends up being ‘bought over’ by the other side. Manoj is in Mumbai at the moment, but could not come because he got a call from the Indore Police saying they had started for Mumbai to arrest him. “He’s running around about this,” says Jinesh, “And to help him, Shyam (another member) is running around too.”

That same evening, in a park in Mulund, a suburb at the other end of town, there is another meeting of harassed husbands being held. It is a better attended one. There are 15 to 20 of them seated in a circle on the grass, and all their sentences are peppered with terms like ‘DV’, ‘498a’, ‘bail’, ‘court’, ‘case’ and ‘arrest’. A sallow young man says that he has 10 days to surrender in Jaipur. He wants to know about anticipatory bail. He is told it might be better for him to spend 48 hours in jail and then get regular bail. An old man arrives after some time. He says murder attempts have been on him by his wife four or five times. He is also being tailed all the time. He calls all wives ‘prostitutes’. Most present are not so bellicose. They have plenty to say on the subject of wives. But they speak sensibly and often sound helpless. More:

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