Documentary film on misuse of section 498A of Indian Penal Code, also known as anti dowry law in India.
Martyrs of Marriage is a documentary film that documents the injustice that has been perpetrated on people because of misuse of section 498A of Indian Penal Code commonly known as the Anti Dowry law in India. A feature length, first person account of those who have suffered at the hands of abuse of this provision, the film delves deep into the problem, the reasons behind it and the repercussions of the same. The film intends to wake up the society to the fact that MEN can be victims too in marital relationships and that the laws that have been made for protection of women have been and are being misused to harass men, women and their families too.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice everywhere”
Martin Luther King Jr
In Criminal Law, Blackstone formulation principle states “It is better that ten guilty persons escape rather than one innocent suffer.” It’s a principle followed under criminal jurisprudence the world over.
However, in India – a law that has been in place for three decades has been decried by many as an instrument of oppression, injustice and a reason for suffering of lacs of innocents in an endeavour to punish the guilty. Brought on the statute in 1983 to protect married women from dowry related violence within marital homes, section 498A of Indian Penal Code, also known as the anti dowry law has often been called as the most abused provision in the Indian jurisprudence. This abuse has been documented by the highest courts in India time and again through several judgments. In 2005, Supreme Court of India used the term “Legal Terrorism” to describe misuse of this law.
Martyrs of Marriage is a documentary film that documents various nuances of misuse of IPC 498A or the anti dowry law in India and the injustice it has perpetrated on several lives.
A feature length, first person account of those who have suffered at the hands of abuse of this provision, the film delves deep into the problem, the reasons behind it and the repercussions of the same. From why the law was brought in the first place to several suicides as a result of the abuse of the provision, this story that’s never been told before highlights plight of men and women who have suffered, suffering and those who have succumbed because of false allegations. No law intends to do Injustice to people. IPC 498A, however, has evidently become a tool and a weapon for harassment and extortion – a fact less stated but well known.
Martyrs of Marriage intends to inform and educate people about this issue and seeks intervention of lawmakers to save lives of many innocents.
The film interweaves personal stories of men and women who have faced trial or are undergoing trial under 498A on wrong allegations along with experiences of Judges, Advocates, Court Mediators, Detectives and Men’s Rights Activists with the abuse of this provision. It goes in detail of what happens, why it happens, how it happens and what the abuse of this provision is doing to lives of people. Several court observations on the issue make a part of the film to give the audience a perspective on the extent of the problem. The documentary presents data related to the law from 1998 till 2014 and raises some pertinent questions arising out of it after in-depth analysis of the same. Audio and Video evidences shared by victims have been used in the film to expose the proportion of this menace and the legal tactics used by those who have made the law a business. Late Syed Ahmed Makhdoom, Late Manoj Kumar and Late Avadhesh Yadav give a face to the term “Martyrs of Marriage” as their families narrate the ordeals that they faced because of the most unexpected battle of their life called Marriage.
Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Meerut, Gorakhpur, Jhansi, Gurgaon, Noida
Ashwani Kumar – Former Minister of Law & Justice, India
Justice Shiv Narayan Dhingra – Retired Judge, Delhi High Court
Mamta Sharma – Former Chairperson, National Commission for Women
Madhu Kishwar – Professor – ICSSR & Founder – Manushi
Mrunalini Deshmukh – Senior Advocate, Mumbai High Court
Alok Mittal – Former Commissioner of Police, Gurgaon
Rashmi Bhushan – Senior Advocate & Mediator, District Court, Gurgaon
Swarup Sarkar – Men’s Rights Activist & Founder, Save Family Foundation
Amit Lakhani – Men’s Rights Activist, Save Indian Family Movement
Ranjana Kumari – Women’s Rights Activist & Director, Center for Social Research, New Delhi
Naman Jain – Managing Director, Sleuth Detectives
K K Bhati – Advocate, Noida
Devdutt Singh – Advocate, Noida
Sanjay Gupta – Advocate, Meerut
Satish Gupta – Advocate, Gurgaon
Victims of misuse of IPC 498A, families of men who committed suicide because of the harassment
It was in mid 2012 that I decided to make Martyrs of Marriage. There are moments that alter the course of your entire life. Being falsely accused of a crime I or my family had not done was one such moment for me. When I got to know how easy it is to accuse someone of crime of dowry harassment in India, how easy it is to misuse section 498A of Indian Penal Code and how easy it is for a woman to destroy an entire family by false allegations, I decided to speak up against it. When I read stories of many who gave up life because of this abuse, I decided to make Martyrs of Marriage.
Marriage is considered a sacred institution in India. This perspective stands true for most Indians until they visit Courts where this institution can be seen falling apart every single day. The bitterness, the lies, the power games, the helplessness, the cries for innocence can make you numb. I witnessed all of this and wanted to share this story with the world. For eons, we have been told stories of how women suffer. I saw the other side of the same coin – suffering of men in legal battle of marriage – and this documentary was born. I wanted to tell a story that most hesitate to hear or even if they hear, hesitate to believe.
Martyrs of Marriage is my first documentary feature and hence it took me several years to do justice to a film like this. When I started, I only wanted to tell a story. During the journey, I became an activist and a voice for those who weren’t heard because of their gender. I myself did not realize when I became an activist from a filmmaker but today, I am glad I decided to make this film. It is just not a film but life of those who have lived a harrowing time because of injustice perpetrated by the state on them in name of justice to a particular gender. It is story of those who could not take it anymore and decided to end it all.
The film is not an investigative piece but an extremely emotional story that raises a lot of pertinent questions on the way gender justice is being delivered in the country today. The film is a question on the efficacy of laws that have been made to protect one gender, the loopholes and abuse of the same with the help of the state. The film is a question on the psyche of those who think a man can never be a victim.
I am aware of the current social and political atmosphere around gender issues. I am aware of how politically incorrect this subject is. I am aware how the state is obligated by the constitution to protect women from gender based violence. But I am also aware that that obligation was never intended to come at the cost of lives of innocents. If it is happening, it needs to be condemned and spoken against. Martyrs of Marriage is a result of that NEED.
I hope everyone who watches this film, sees it from the eyes of NEED for a balanced society and not a biased society since gender equality means gender equality and it includes both female and male!
Deepika Narayan Bhardwaj is an Independent Journalist and a Documentary Filmmaker from India. Her first short documentary Gramin Dak Sevak based on employment challenges of rural postal employees was Jeevika All Asia Livelihood Film Festival 2009, student film winner. Her second short documentary Youth Count focussed on youth and its attitude towards voting and elections. She has also worked on documentary projects for United Nations Environmental Program, USAID, Counterpart International, Sarthak covering issues related to women, people with disabilities and environment. Martyrs of Marriage is her first independent documentary feature which she has researched, scripted, produced and directed on her own.
While making the film, Deepika has written and spoken extensively on gender biased laws in India and impact of their misuse on people through platforms like TEDx and others.
A software engineer turned Journalist, she was one of the ten media professionals selected from around the world for ‘Future Media Leaders Course’ conducted by Thomson Foundation, UK in 2010. A strong believer in documentaries as a powerful medium of communication, she draws her inspiration from Late Mr. Brent Hurd, her documentary professor at Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media.
SCREENINGS SO FAR
Public screenings of Martyrs of Marriage started on October 22, 2016 from New Delhi. Since then the film has been screened in several cities in India and abroad too including Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Pune, Raipur, Bhilai, Jaipur, Jalandhar, Gurgaon, Kaithal in India; Melbourne, Sydney, Gold Coast in Australia and Indian Consulate, Dubai. Martyrs of Marriage has also been screened for Magistrates and Police Officers at Tamilnadu State Judicial Academy , Madurai and Maharashtra State Judicial Academy. The film has received standing ovations and an overwhelming response everywhere.
POSTER & STILLS