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Gender Neutral laws: Feminism in Practice

We tried to look through this paper on the emerging concept of gender neutrality which is a debatable issue across the globe. This paper tried to present the problems faced due to the gender-specific role which ultimately creates gender disparities in different areas of public life. we also used the data available on different websites to present the gender disparities in social economic and political life. The scope of this paper is not limited to the mere presentation of challenges, we look into the account of a solution emerging as an effect of gender-neutral policies.

It is not only so we also look into the transformative role of gender i.e. LGBTQ and their inclusion in the mainstream of the society. we also look into their status in the present scenario by examining their participation in different social and political arenas. The extent of study is not limited only to their social, political and economic scenarios and we also look into their legal perspective.

Distinction Between Sex And Gender- Impacts And Influences

Sex is the biological difference between male and female while Gender as a concept is specifically the role acquired by the male and female not on the basis of their ability but on the basis of the prejudice and stereotype shaped by the society as a whole.

The social and psychological forces prevalent at the time impacts the role of the individual which primarily shaped the gender-specific role. The process of socialization especially the way in which children grasp the information, impact their role in society as an individual. In my opinion the role of individual must be decided on the basis of their capability, not on the basis of preconceived notion prevalent due to the conventional way of thinking in the contemporary society.

Impact of Gender Stereotype on Human Rights:

Office of the Human right Commission defines Gender stereotyping is the practice of ascribing to an individual woman or men specific attributes, characteristics or roles by reason only of her or his membership in the social group of men or women. Gender stereotyping is wrong when it results in the violation of human rights and fundamental rights[1]. In my opinion, the limitation of choices of individuals by confining them to opt their role is the infringement of Human rights.

The international human rights law framework prohibits gender stereotypes and stereotyping which undermine the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. States have an obligation to eliminate discrimination against women and men in all areas of their lives. This obligation requires States to take measures to address gender stereotypes both in public and private life as well as to refrain from stereotyping. In my opinion, limiting the choices of individuals or shaping their role on preconceived notions is an infringement of human rights.

Impact of Gender Stereotyping on Mental Health:

We all have own concept of masculinity and femininity and how it should be manifested but the matter of fact lies in the sense whether we like or not culture dictates the consideration and a manifestation of a role as well. We would not look into the effect of cultural norms but the fact that the expectation of how people should behave is harmful, when it comes into the point of mental illness.

A study published by Purdue and Northwestern Universities found that gender stereotypes affected the way people responded to others’ mental illnesses. Respondents read case summaries of mental illnesses whose symptoms were stereotypically associated with either women or men.

Men are more likely to be stereotyped as violent, which is often linked to something like Placing these types of expectations on the way people should act based on their gender can hinder their mental health and their ability and willingness to seek help. In terms of treatment of the medical treatment of mentally ill patient on the basis of gender,[2]A study published by the American Psychological Association [3]found that women are more likely than men to experience anxiety and depression, while men are more likely to be diagnosed with substance use and antisocial disorders. It also found that women are more likely to internalize emotions, which typically results in withdrawal, loneliness, and depression, while men are more likely to externalize emotions, leading to aggressive, impulsive, coercive and noncompliant behavior.

Impact of Stereotyping on Access To Justice:

Justice should be fair reasonable and accessible to each and every individual that has sought for it. In my opinion or it would be universally adopted opinion justice should be free from biasedness and favoritism so that it became accessible for all.

Women participation in the justice sector:

It is evidentiary fact the women are severely underrepresented in all the public sector institutions across the globe. The world of the judiciary does not remain untouched from this male dominating system. In most of the world very few women become lawyers and even fewer women than men designate to the senior status resulting in a tiny pool of eligible female candidates for the positions in judiciary [4].

It is important to not assume that the presence of a particular social group in the justice sector would necessarily mean that the this sector will result in institutions which are responsible for women needs. Defacto when women’s participation is limited to tokenism individual men and women feel pressure to be less sensitive to women issues and gender equality. Here we present some statistics which strengthen our claim of women’s underrepresentation in the justice sector.

l In 2005, UNODC reported that there were 29 women judges and 1,920 male judges in Afghanistan, 25 women judges and 985 male judges in Ethiopia and 434 female judges and 1,982 male judges in South Africa (UNODC, 2005).
2. As of 2004, there was only one woman sitting as a judge at any level in Egypt (Human Rights Watch, 2004).
3. In 1999, there were no women in the three highest courts in Colombia (UNIFEM, n.d. (c)).
4.As of 2002, no more than three women were sitting at any time in either the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia or the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (Johnson-Sirleaf and Rehn, 2002).
5. Presently there are 3 sitting female judges in Indian Supreme court namely Indira Banerjee, R Bhanumati, and Indu Malhotra out of the strength of 25 judges. Incepting to the independence till now only 8 [5]female judges reached to the top court of India.

It is to be noted that in 2017 an information gathered by the department of law and justice government of India represented the very dismal picture of the women’s judges in the High courts and subordinate courts too. Women account 28 Percent of the 17160 judges across all subordinate High courts and Supreme courts.

Access to justice is greatly influenced by these factors like gender inequality in the number of male and female judges and counsels.

Suggestions To Improve Access To Justice:

1. Advocacy and support of normative mechanisms are crucial in maintaining the gender equalities and awareness of the rights of individuals and access to justice

2. Legal Aid And Legal Awareness:

The extent to which men and women are aware of their rights and entitlement Is varies from place to place. In several of the cases, it has been culled out that women and men are aware of their rights but unaware of the way it has to be redressed. The threat of violence makes unable the women to access to justice so awareness with the assistance can be an effective tool in enabling the individuals in access to justice. The preamble of the Indian constitution basically aims to protect the people of India justice social and economical.

His Lordship honorable justice P.N.Bhagwati says on the legal aid that it is the arrangement in the society which makes the machinery of administration of justice easily accessible to all. Art 39 (A) of the Constitution of India provides free legal aid to those who need. The Constitutional duty to provide legal aid arises from the time the accused is produced before the Magistrate for the first time and continues whenever he is produced for remand[6].

The disparities in access to justice compel the judiciary and the state to enunciate these concepts like Legal aid. In my opinion, the universal achievement of access to justice is only possible when the area of the judiciary will become free from stereotype and prejudice.

Innovative Techniques

Support capacity-building within justice and regulatory bodies on gender issues and women’s rights. The capacity building could include training on gender for members of the judiciary or support for the establishment of gender desks within ministries.

Encourage women to participate in the justice sector and support women who are already working in the justice sector. Associations of women judges exist in many parts of the world, and they can be a useful resource to combat the barriers of access to justice.

Women’s organizations should be viewed as key disseminators of information. Women’s group which are working in their respective countries best understand the gender dynamics of their own country and can be effective hand in information strategies to remove the barriers.

Conclusion In the era of technological development and the dynamic recognition of the human right, its high time to implement gender-neutral laws in the country. The recognition of transgender rights and the LGBTQ community as a whole also gave impetus to the idea of gender-neutral laws in our country. The recent policy of cricket Australia has also started this debate, of the idea of gender-neutral laws.

End-Notes [1] https://www.ohchr.org/en/issues/women/wrgs/pages/genderstereotypes.aspx
[2] https://www.michaelshouse.com/blog/how-do-gender-stereotypes-affect-mental-health
[3] Report of psychology today on mental Health August 2012
[4] Women, inequality and justice- Report of BBC ( 2014)
[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_female_judges_of_the_Supreme_Court_of_India
[6](Khatri II Vs. State of Bihar, (1981) 1SCC; 1981 SCC (Cri) 228; 1981 Cri. LJ 470)

*The author is a III semester Student at National Law University Jodhpur - E-mail id [email protected]

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