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
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
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:
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.
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.
Hindu Succession Act,1956The 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
Criminal law (Amendment) Act,2013 This act expressly included certain offenses in the Indian Penal Code,
- 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.
Equal Remuneration Act,1976This 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
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
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
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.
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.
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