India's Union Minister Maneka Gandhi is convinced that men do not kill themselves in India, and says that she has not heard of a single such case.
Her response to a query during a Facebook Live session about the government's initiative to reduce suicide rates has upset the audience.
"Which men have committed suicide? Why not try and resolve the situation rather than commit suicide? I have not heard or read of a single case," said Gandhi, the Women and Child Development minister.
However, the statistics dictate, according to the National Crime Records Bureau of India, 1,33,623 suicides were reported in the country in 2015, of which 91,528 or 68 per cent were men who killed themselves and 42,088 women.
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Of the 86,808 married people who took their lives in 2015, 64,534 or 74 per cent were men, the NCRB data revealed.
The three-hour long chat on social media led the audience to label the minister as "anti-men" and spent a large part of the chat answering questions over this particular issue.
"What is @wcd doing to make sure parental alienation (father's from his kids) is not in practice. Isn't alienating a child from his/her biological father a crime?," posted a social media user.
Reacting sharply to the post, Gandhi said men had to accept responsibility before demanding rights. "This ministry gets a large number of complaints that after a marriage has been dissolved, the father does not pay any maintenance despite court orders and the laws of the land... To push for rights needs an adherence to responsibilities as well," she said.
This was again met with severe criticism from users who said that the minister was equating a child to a museum for which fathers had to pay a display fees.
The chat grew intense when one social media user posted a query about his matrimonial dispute where he dictated his situation. He stated that his wife had left their three-month-old daughter saying that she could not look after her. "Whose doors should I knock to seek justice for my daughter?" he asked.
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To this, the minister replied, "Unfortunately the remedy for this lies in the courts. But simply as a personal observation... I have not met a woman who is happily married, has a baby and then runs off leaving a three-month-old baby on the grounds that she cannot look after her.
"According to you, there was the support system of parents in the house as well. So the responsibility of looking after the child would not have been her's alone. Why not introspect and sort out the actual issue," she wrote.
The minister's reply seemed to imply that she did not believe the user's story and suspected of otherwise. At the very end of the session though, replying to a user who suggested that there be a ministry only for men, Gandhi said that she would welcome it.
This article was originally published in The Indian Express.