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Section 498a of the Indian penal code makes it an offence for a husband or his family to subject his wife to cruelty or harassment.

Hridaya-Nest of Family Harmony is a Men's Rights organisation that claims that Section 498a is frequently abused, with false accusations being made against men.

In a 2013 News 18 article, a spokesman is quoted, attributing all the deaths by suicide of married men as being due to false Section 498a claims:

Every nine minutes a married man commits suicide in India due to alleged misuse of section 498a of IPC against them, taking the toll to around a whopping 64,000 every year, says a report.

"National Crime Records Bureau statistics reveal more incidences of suicide by married men than by married women. In 2012 approximately 64,000 married men committed suicide vis-a-vis 32,000 married women," says DS Rao, president of Hridaya-Nest of Family Harmony, an NGO, quoting a survey by it.


Other claims:

Were there 64,000 deaths by suicide of married Indian men in 2012 after Section 498a claims?

  • 17
    I have been editing the question, and when the claim is made in full, it is so ludicrous, I am wondering if there is some misunderstanding here. The claimant is claiming every single death by suicide of a married man is related to false claims from wives? Surely that is self-evidently false? – Oddthinking Jun 1 '18 at 12:46
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    A reminder to commenters, answerers and editors: Please take care of the language you use when discussing suicide. Here are some Indian resources for people who are having trouble with thoughts about suicide. – Oddthinking Jun 1 '18 at 12:55
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    They report that suicides of husbands is twice that of wives. The same males/female ratio occurs in the US. – Daniel R Hicks Jun 1 '18 at 13:01
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    I'm curious what happens when this claim is attacked from the other angle. How many 498a charges were brought in that year? Were there even 64K of them? – T.E.D. Jun 1 '18 at 22:21
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    As far as I can tell from the article, the HNFH spokesperson is not quoted as attributing all suicides by married men to false Section 498a claims. He’s only quoted as saying that twice as many husbands as wives kill themselves. The implication that all 64,000 suicides are brought on by false Section 498a charges appears to be entirely down to the writer of the article. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jun 2 '18 at 10:03
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There were a total of 79,773 deaths by suicide of Indian men in 2012, in which 63,349 were due to non-illness, regardless of false claims of Section 498a or not.

For suicide victims by marital status during 2012, refer to user45170's answer: there were 63,343 deaths by suicide of married Indian men in 2012, regardless of false claims of Section 498a or not.


According to Open Government Data (OGD) Platform India for "State/UT-wise distribution of suicides by causes during 2001-2012" provided by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), there were a total of 79,773 deaths by suicide of Indian men in 2012, composed of 63,349 due to non-illness and 16,424 due to illness.

The data only includes the cause of the death and is categorized by age and gender. It doesn't specify marriage status, nor a specific cause for false charges.

distribution of suicides by causes in 2012

Note: modification to the source file was done for a more convenient reading purpose.

  • It might be helpful to add brackets or something around the struck out number - at first glance I thought there were ~63 millions deaths – Phill Jun 4 '18 at 7:44
  • @Phill I decided to remove it because it's understandably confusing. Thanks for the feedback. – Andrew T. Jun 4 '18 at 7:46
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It seems highly unlikely. The person making the claim claims there are about 64,000 suicides every year, "due to alleged misuse of section 498a of IPC against them."

He then goes on to quote the national statistics, showing that there were a grand total of 64,000 suicides by married men in 2012 (along with 32,000 by married women). This would mean that each and every suicide by married men were because of this, and that there wasn't a single married man who took their own life for any other reason, at all.

So, 32,000 married women found reason enough to take their own life not related to false charges, but not a single man did?

The person making the claim also offers no validation for the claim that they all had 498a charges against them.

Wikipedia has a page about suicide in India. In it, it has a list of reasons for suicides in 2014, taken from government statistics. Even if we assume that all the women and all the non-married people were killing themselves for reason not related to marriage, and attribute all of the general "Other" and "Other Family Problem," and unaccounted-for suicides (no reason given/uncategorized = 27,000 or so) and every other category that might, in our wildest imaginings to fall into that category, there is not enough statistical room to support this claim.

Wikipedia: Suicide in India

Wikipedia suicide reason chart

  • 1
    I feel like 'Illness' and the next five categories that follow should be rolled into a single category. They're all illnesses. – aroth Jun 2 '18 at 3:08
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    @aroth It looks like those are actually a more detailed breakdown of the "Illness" category. If you add them up, you get 23,746. It's just not very clear in the table that that's what they are. – F1Krazy Jun 2 '18 at 7:42
  • @F1Krazy I fixed it on Wikipedia itself now. Also, if you download the original data, there are details per genders (male, female, transgender): i.stack.imgur.com/PVCq1.png (last total row was added by me, so it may be incorrect). The red underlines are because my LibreOffice was configured in French. – Cœur Jun 2 '18 at 12:51
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There were 88,453 suicides of males in India in 2012, regardless of 498-A accusations, false or otherwise.

I have no data on the number of 498-A cases. The following is only with regards to the number of suicide victims.

The total

┌────────┬──────────┐
│ SexSuicides │
╞════════╪══════════╡
│ Male   │   88,453 │
├────────┼──────────┤
│ Female │   46,992 │
└────────┴──────────┘

The 63,349 figure in Andrew's answer excludes West Bengal, and suicides caused by illness.

Married victims

┌────────┬──────────┐
│ SexSuicides │
╞════════╪══════════╡
│ Male   │   63,343 │
├────────┼──────────┤
│ Female │   31,921 │
└────────┴──────────┘

Figure 2.8, page 183, in [1]:

Distribution of suicide victims by marital status during 2012


Sources:

  • 1
    So, except for the very small number of divorcees, the male/female ratio for suicides is roughly equal across the range of marital stratus. The number of married men taking their lives is slightly higher, ratio-wise, than other categories, but the most one could statistically claim is that around 26,000 suicides might be due to this law. – Daniel R Hicks Jun 4 '18 at 0:02
  • Thanks for the correction. I didn't realize/know that West Bengal wasn't included even though it's stated "ALL INDIA" in the source data. I could only fixed the value based on my understanding of the data, and I credited the rest to your answer. – Andrew T. Jun 4 '18 at 1:40
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    @Pharap - The ratios, left to right, are 1.82, 1.98, 1.16, 0.96, and 1.65. The sample sizes for the last three are quite small, and therefore subject to statistical error. In this sort of comparison 1.82 and 1.98 are remarkably close. – Daniel R Hicks Jun 4 '18 at 11:48

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