Field Notes: To Report Or Not To Report The Fringe Men’s Rights Movement


Court me bolo mai tum se bahut pyar karta hoon,” advised an elderly men’s rights activist, tall and bearded, probably in his late fifties, to a bunch of younger men, who were facing charges for crimes against women, or going through a divorce, or both. 

Court se bahar niklo aur bolo aisa kabhi sochna bhi mat, tange tod kar rakh dunga.

(“Say 'I love you a lot' when in court, but once you are outside, tell her ‘do not even think about it, or else I will break your leg.’”)

Though we were fully expecting mild misogyny, this direct incitement of violence towards women shook us on that cold December afternoon last year when we were at a park in front of Delhi’s Mandi House metro station, reporting on what the men’s rights activists call a support meeting.

One men’s rights activist said of all divorced women: “Ek bar jab vo kisi ka ghar today hai, to dobara kisi aur ka ghar nahi bana sakti. Jaha jaegi ghar todegi. (If she has destroyed someone’s home once, she can never build another. Wherever she goes, she will destroy homes).” 

As we reported on the Men Welfare Trust, an NGO actively working to prevent the criminalization of marital rape, we attended three meetings, each marked by varying degrees of misogyny. 

The biggest challenge we faced was covering the misogynistic rhetoric without getting affected. 

Once our reporting concluded, and it was almost time to file the story, a polarising doubt popped up in our minds: were we unintentionally amplifying the misogyny we had seen? 

And why were we reporting on the activities of a fringe group? Even our editors had cautioned that they were “not keen to give them undue publicity.”

This doubt was also pertinent because one of the speakers at the seminar had spoken that the immediate goal of the men's rights movement was to get widespread coverage in the media. 

But then, what was the alternative?

Not reporting their activities, when their advocacy had expanded from online trolling to filing petitions in court against the criminalisation of marital rape, did not feel like an option. 

So we filed the story, tracing how men’s rights activists had moved the Delhi High Court.

And then came the blowback. 

On the portal Voice For Men India, Arnaz Hathiram, its managing editor, published a response to our story—the other side of the media propaganda. 

Hathiram called the story "malicious" and an attempt at misleading "some of their already brainwashed radical feminist readers" about "yet another anti-men extortionist law". 

"Both seem to be interns tasked with doing the interview and interpreting it the way they wanted to project the end message," she wrote about us. 

Incidentally, Swarup Sarkar, co-founder of the Men Welfare Trust, told us that the report published by them on male suicides rising since 1983 due to “gender-biased” laws, a part of which was sent out to lawmakers in June 2021,  was written by an intern.

But for the record, we are not interning at Article 14 and independently pitched this story to the editors. 

And we were prepared for the backlash. 

Joyojeet Pal, associate professor of information at the University of Michigan, who analysed the Twitter activity of men’s rights activists, had told us, “Whenever a women-related issue will be discussed on social media, MRAs will quickly turn the discourse.”

Expectedly, since our story came out, we’ve been waking up to floods of notifications on Twitter. 

The one that made us laugh: “what else can we expect from a feminist and a man who can’t stand up for his rights.”

And the most vicious thing we read: “Crores and crores are being pumped for toxic feminist 'causes' like making misandric laws by manipulating public opinion, buying key decision-making officers, buying media, buying people for protests in streets etc.”

Read Ishita Roy and Anup Semwal’s full story here

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