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Masculinity and manhood are prerequisite characteristics desired and demanded from every male individual born in Indian society. They are taught to become an ‘Ideal Indian Man’ from the time they are born. Critical reading of masculine attributes is an important facet of feminist discourse. Men who become a part of this quest and movement as ‘women rights activists’, fighting against gender inequality, are often ridiculed and discouraged. In this context, this paper brings out the narratives and struggles of being a male ‘women human rights defender’ in India. According to the information published on the official website of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), women human rights defenders (WHRDs) are people of all genders who work, promote, defend, advance, and advocate for gender equality, and stand for the cause of human rights of women. Hence, going by the definition mentioned above, I argue that a feminist man working relentlessly on women’s issues will surely fall under the category of ‘women human rights defenders’. Their personal experiences and struggles as WHRDs working in their local areas voice varied forms of challenges, stigma, ostracisation, and life risks that otherwise go unnoticed, unspoken, and at times trivialised because of their gender. With an objective to bring out a broader conversation between masculinity studies and feminist scholarship, this paper analyses the challenges of being feminist male WHRDs. To examine this position as a WHRD, the paper will look into the questions of (1) being a man who is always looked upon with suspicion as a person occupying a privileged gender position; (2) a man working on gender-sensitive issues such as human/sex trafficking, child abuse, violence, conflict, and displacement; and (3) his regional location and social class. This paper will structure details of different forms of gender-based lived experiences of selected male WHRDs working in various districts of Assam and West Bengal, through personal interview methods.

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