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Gender Justice And Violence Against Women

The term gender equality undoubtedly tops the checkboxes of all the progressive nations. It is an undeniable fact that the stability of a country at large nor a small workplace jeopardizes when men and women are not treated equally. Article 14 of the Indian Constitution guarantees 'equality' to all its citizens and the same is enumerated in the Preamble to the constitution. This marks the significance and necessity of equal treatment of the equals.

The Constitutional framers have evidently stated the non-applicability of the Doctrine of Waiver in India. Thus it is not a choice in the hands of the people to waive off such a fundamental right of equality. Gender equality implicitly molds the economic prosperity of a country and lays a healthier and safer path to strive towards ' sustainable development'. Accepting the threads genders generously and treating them in par with the other genders is the indispensable need of the hour. Unequal approach leads to inappropriate discrimination based on the gender, thus increasing the rate of violence against women and girls.

It is a bitter truth that that status of women in India is unenviable when compared to the status enjoyed by women of other countries thriving towards development. Multiple ways of violence, abuse and heinous crimes are encountered by women on a daily basis though several legislative measure are passed by the state. This in turn burdens them with mental, physical and psychological traumas leading to health complications.

Part I of this research paper would deal in detail about gender equality and the level of its applicability. Part II would brief about re-defining gender equality according to the current era. Part III would showcase the status of women in India. Part IV would explain about the violence practiced against women, the reasons for it and traumas faced by such women. Part V would deal with the legislation passed and furthermore recommendations to scrap out this societal sickness.

Gender Equality - Definition

Gender equality is attained when the same rights and opportunities pertaining to economic position, involvement in decision-making, achievement of the aspirations set etc are enjoyed equally by both men and women. To measure the elasticity of gender equality in any given state, the representation of men and women in a wide range of roles is to be taken. Irrespective of the standard of a country, gender equality is likely to benefit everyone and every country that adopts it.

Thus the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) lists it in rank five. It has been conclusively proven that, to stimulate economic growth in the developing countries 'gender equality' plays a crucial role. In simple words, treating women in par with men is gender equality. The United Nations Women have reported that in Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countries, the credits for half of the economic growth attained over the past 50 years is due to better access to education and increase in the number of years of schooling of girls in their country.

Gender equality cannot be upheld unless women do not fall behind men in fundamental aspects, worldwide. It paves way to reach the goals independently breaking the boundaries drawn by family and the society. Feminism is a liberation movement rather than a movement to suppress men or a tactic to take up the masculine role of men in society. Feminists perceived to be anti-men is a misleading portrayal of women who work hard towards women empowerment.

Gender discrimination- A demotivating element

Gender discrimination is the unequal treatment of individuals or groups based on their gender. Though the constitutional machineries tend to attain ' equity' is all aspects, the traditional feudal practices the non-upgraded cultural backdrop of our country hinders entry to the gender-discrimination free paradise. All these elements curb the independent judgment of women, making them completely depend on the dominating males in the society.

Women not being allowed in certain social, religious and re-recreational places, difference in the daily wage scale etc are scenarios were women are discriminated unreasonable on a day to day basis. The landmark judgments by the Supreme Court struck down discrimination in services conditions which required female employees to obtain government sanction before marriage and that married and pregnant women not to be employed as airhostess.

Not only women, transgender are also fall in this trap. Trans people who have a taken a step back by leading a secluded life, face transphobic harassment at their workplaces too. Thus people must have an insight of the plight of such harassed transgender and their equal right to life.

Legislation formulated to achieve gender equality:

  1. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013

    This act suppressed the guidelines passed in the case of Vishaka v State of Rajasthan. This act mandates that any workplace with a workforce of more than 10 employees must implement it without forgoing. It aims to protect women from sexual harassment in workplace and platform to redress complaints of sexual harassment and for matters connected therewith.

  2. Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994

    This act was passed with a vision to ban prenatal sex determination in order to stop female feticides and to curb the decline in sex ratio in India. The practice of continuously procuring children until a male child was born occupied the society. It leads to killing of female fetus. Conducting or helping in prenatal diagnostic technique in unregistered units, sex selection, holding PND tests are offenses under this act. This act curtailed gender discrimination at the very inception itself.

  3. Hindu Succession Act,1956

    The Parliament of India amended the law relating to Hindu intestate or unwilled succession, which granted ownership to females of all the property acquired in par with men. This puts an emphasis on constitutional mandate equally.

  4. Criminal law (Amendment) Act,2013

    This act expressly included certain offenses in the Indian Penal Code, namely:
    • Section 326A - Acid attack
    • Section 326B - Attempt to acid attack
    • Section 354A - Sexual harassment
    • Section 354B - Disrobing a women
    • Section 345C - Voyeurism
    • Section 354D - Stalking
      All the above were included as offenses with a motive to protect women from increasing and diverge types of crimes.

  5. Equal Remuneration Act,1976

    This act mandated the employer to pay equal remuneration to both women and men doing of similar nature. It also prohibits the employer to discriminate a women subsequent to her recruitment in matters of promotion, trainings, transfers etc except where such employment of women is prohibition of exempted by law.

    The above are a few legislations enacted to remove discrimination against women and lead to women empowerment. Article 15 of the Constitution provides space to make special laws concerning women and children. The major drawback is the implementation factor which is the essence of effectiveness of the laws passed.

Re-defining gender equality in 2020:

The ancient primitive society did not acknowledge the trans people with men and women. But now people have become broad minded and are out of the stereotypical shackles of the society. They have realized that nothing could go against or beyond nature and have generously welcomed trans people. Decriminalizing Section 377 , was a huge leap made by the state in recognizing the LGBT community. Several welfare schemes and legislation, issuance of citizenship ID cards and other constitutional and legal reforms were implemented.

Status of women in India:

The prosperity of a civilization can be judged from the position given to women. The earlier society considered women in the place of God. The noble law-giver Manu has stated 'where women are honored there resides the Gods'. At times of ceremonies and deity worships, married women enjoy equal position with their better half. But the position of women deteriorated with the Muslim invasion where women's status was very low.

The pronunciation of Talaq at the very instance itself departed all the relations of the married women with her marital home. This shows that were treated as mere commodities. Again their status was reformed with the British influence and the fearless Indian freedom fighters with whom they fought hand in hand courageously. Women came out of the four walls of the house and aspired to stand in their earnings. In the present modernized society, there isn't a sphere where women have not placed their foot. Neither it be landing in the moon or diving deep into the endless ocean, women proved their potential. Women not only have brains but also hearts which is proved in ensuring politics with numerous brave women leaders.

Women taking a back seat:

There is no doubt that women take a back seat by giving by their careers and goals, prioritizing to be an aid of support to her husband, children and family. A simple example is where women being addressed by the name of her husband. It is not that women are less educated or not brainy. They accept their role of being child-bearers, home-makers, supporting aid of family instead of being the game-changers, decision-makers in the family or workplace.

They also tend to be submissive, despite the abuse and physical tortures by their husbands, taking into mind that he pride of the family would turn into ash by resorting to legal reforms. Apparently, women are unaware that they are industrious, honest, loyal, diligent and multi-taskers than men in working out their responsibilities. Women, mostly married women do not think about sacrificing their prestigious careers or dreams for the sake of her family. They wish to devote their entire time towards stabilizing their families by fulfilling all the household chores.

Violence against women:

Violence against women begins in the womb where is she is formed and continues till the graveyard. Violence against women is not just subjected physical violence. On the other hand , laws measuring physical injury of women is possible.

While application of the same in mental illness is difficult. It is a social, economical, health and educational issue in total. The gang rape of a medical student in the national capital of India, mocked the entire nation. Abolishing violence against women is also present in the national agenda of our country. Though we have stepped into a broad minded millennium era, there widely exists ill-treatment and oppression of the women.

Social evils like Sati were prevalent in the ancient society depriving women's life. But the complexity of violence against women has multiplied many folds, making them face diverge forms of crimes. In the case of Bobbit of 1993, the wife had been physically and emotionally abused by her husband at the time of marriage; hide the truth of his incapacity in procreation of children. Thus the wife has severed his penis with a knife which was later surgically reattached. The jury held her not to be guilty as she was under clinical depression which made her take such extreme step.

Thus it is the facts of the case that decides upon the brutality of the act and the punishment to be awarded .No predefined specimen has been formulated to measure the mental traumas faced. Sexual harassment, rape, dowry death which is often referred as 'kitchen accident are different shapes taken to exhibit men's grudge against women.

Factors for such inhumane attitude:

Alcohol consumption by the husbands has had a huge impact in the mental sickness of their wives. It creates instability in the body, leading to take judgments without any analyzation, brutally hurting the spouse etc. In extreme cases of paranoid schizophrenia, bipolar disorder etc pushes intuitions towards committing sexual crimes. Faults in parenting in the childhood, witnessing father beat the mother at young age etc increases urge to assault and suppress the spouse. Family of the husband inhumanly treating, assaulting, causing burns in the body of the bride in the name of dowry is prevalent in every part of the country.

Acid attacks, mainly using the easily available sulphuric acid for disfiguring the women's body for rejection of marriage proposals is high in number. Honor killings made to uphold the name of the family are done for various reasons like adultery, relationship with guy of inferior caste, premarital relationships etc. Unplanned increase in the population of the family brings stress which in turn leads to charging women. Finally the judiciary where victims resort for help, its ineffectiveness in taking action and their lack of accountability make women hesitant to approach legal reforms. The NCW has reported that the number of domestic violence cases has increased in the COVID-19 quarantine period as the partners stay indoors and the wives are susceptible to mindless actions of their husbands.

Legislation formulated:

The Supreme Court of India by formulating the Sexual harassment of women at workplace (prevention, prohibition and redressal) Act, 2013 creates a platform to lodge complaints and also provides safeguards against malicious charges.

The Criminal Law( Amendment )Act,2013 adds distinct acts as offenses, thus widening the scope of the term 'crime' and providing protection to women from all forms of violence.
The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 frames giving, taking, abetting to give or take dowry as a punishable offense. Abetting a person to commit suicide, deaths caused to demand of dowry, bride subjected to cruelty by husband and relatives of husband, causing miscarriage and deaths following it etc have specified punishments in the Indian Penal Code. The Sati Prevention Act, 1987 was passed to burn the social evil out of practice.

Also, women with mental sickness must be given extra care and protection and special counseling is to be provided to bring her out of mental traumas. There must always be a check on the alcohol supply and consumption in the society. Banning pornography which stimulates sexual desire and censoring scenes portraying violence against women is a must. Getting married in the early 20s which would build a strong marital bond is necessary. Finally improvement in education and employment, indulging in extracurricular activities, sticking on to moral conducts etc would advocate prohibition of violence against women.

Conclusion:
The humanistic era has come where people have understood and have imbibed the significance of 'gender equality' and have started to give their extended support. Welcoming the third genders and attributing them with equal rights and requirements is one of the most progressive moves made by the country as a whole. Men in our country raising their voice for women empowerment along with other women is truly an achievement for its people.

The true nature and the sacrifices made by women are always to be appreciated instead of treating her as vulnerable living thing. Unless the revengeful attitude of men against the growing women change, nothing revolutionary in the society can be expected. There should always be a check on the role of judiciary and the laws must keep evolving as the society we live is also dynamic. If it fails to happen, then the laws will perish resulting in losing confidence in the Rule of Law.

Links:
  1. http://www.genderequality.ie/en/GE/Pages/WhatisGE
  2. https://wordcounter.net/
  3. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/columns/b-s-raghavan/why-do-women-take-the-back-seat/article20627140.ece1#
  4. https://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Huma/HumaSing.htm

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