Conditions of Emergence: The Formation of Men’s Rights Groups in Contemporary India

Chowdhury, R.
SAGE Publications
Publication date: 
January 2014

Why are some men opposing the advancements towards gender equality? In the past 20 years, men’s rights groups have emerged in response to feminist activism and legal reforms in India. These changes undermine the legitimacy of some patriarchal arrangements and the objective of such men’s rights groups is to preserve traditional family values and impede women’s participation in the public domain. Organised as counter to feminism and women’s movements, men’s rights groups engage in mobilising public opinion to reverse the advancements some women have gained as a result of many years of activism.

Men’s rights groups engage in:

  • Creating impressions among legislative bodies, policymakers and the general public about the ‘misuse’ of pro-women laws in the country.
  • Lobbying to change what they perceive as ‘gender-biased laws’.
  • Helping men and women who feel they have been victimised by such laws.
  • Establishing fathers’ rights in child custody cases.

The paper argues that the existence of men’s rights groups has been enabled by the spread of NGOs and Internet technologies in India since the 1990s and analyses structural processes of economic and legal change in relation to gender equality in India. The document draws on findings from interviews with men’s rights activists and interrogates in what ways these collective markings of a historically privileged masculine identity relate to broader processes of cultural, social and legal change. It suggests that men of men’s rights groups strongly oppose women’s empowerment as they perceive the changes in the contemporary gender order as a major crisis.

Indian Journal of Gender Studies, 21(1) 27–53
Publication place: 
Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC
Chowdhury, R. (2014) 'Conditions of Emergence: The Formation of Men’s Rights Groups in Contemporary India’, Indian Journal of Gender Studies 21(1) 27–53, Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC: SAGE Publications