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Gender Bias In Society

"It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals." - Emma Watson

In this modern world gender has been recognized as a wide spectrum, with a lot of genders that are being recognised such as male, female, transgender, non binary etc. Limiting to merely two genders (male and female) in society would not be an ideal thing to say nowadays. Many genders in this society still face problems regarding their basic rights, employment, recognition etc.

India is dominated by the ideology of patriarchy. Patriarchy "is a social or political system in which the father or eldest male is the family's head and succession is traced through the male line." Violation of freedom, equality and basic human rights etc.to other genders in the society is regarded as a standard practice throughout India.

The most commonly seen gender bias in Indian society is between male and female.The roots of gender biasness can be traced in India back from the 17-18th century. The first bias that was faced by women in India was regarding the birth. The desire for boys, who are seen as more useful than girls, is a major driver of gender disparity.

Boys are granted exclusive rights to inherit the family name and possessions, and they are seen as having a higher standing in the family. The families had a mindset that the sons have a higher economic usefulness than women, since India was an agricultural dominant society they also believed that sons are more useful than women as the son would provide them an additional source of labor.

Religions also affected the gender bias in the society as there were some religious practices/ rituals that were to be performed by males for their parents after their death. The practice of giving dowry which is providing the groom's family with assets such as land, money, gold etc. at the time of marriage was seen as a liability for most of the Indian households. All these factors contributed to the bias of not wanting a girl child in the family. This bias was seen through many ways such as female foeticide and infanticide.

Female foeticide is the practise of aborting a pregnancy once the parents discover the unborn is female following a sex determination test known as prenatal diagnostic testing. Female infanticide is known as the deliberate death caused by means of suffocation, starvation etc. of newborn female offspring wihtin one year of their birth.

Next type of bias seen is education. Education of girl children was very less compared to the male children, even though the literacy rate among girls has gone high in the past few years yet it is not equivalent to the literacy rate among male children. The country's literacy rate is 74.04 percent, with males achieving an average of 82.14 and females achieving an average of 65.46.1

This type of literacy bias was seen among male and female children because Indian households thought that educating their female children would be a liability and waste of resources, they believed if the same was invested on male children it would be more resourceful. Indian families also believed in that because the female children would eventually marry to some other family and hence the education knowledge would be of no use. Indian society also saw women as the housewives, caretakers, mothers etc.

Discrimination against women has also led to biases such as difference in wages and salary rate even though, women and men do the same job and have the same level of qualification. Discrimination in work places such as promotion, incentives, bonuses are given more to the men workers than the women works because of the in built thought of parthrical society wherein men are deemed to be more competent than women.

Property rights to women are also biased in society, even though the law says and provides equality to own and inherit property for women. Law such as Married Women Property Rights Act of 1974, Hindu Succession Act of 2005 etc are implemented. The men tend to own and exercise more power over land due to the ideologies of the patriarchal society where men are considered as more authoritative over assets.

Bias can be seen in certain roles in the society such as women are considered as cooks for their families, but roles such as chef in restaurants are highly dominated by men and given preference to men. The position of women in the medical field as a nurse is stereotyped as a woman's work, although in fact, the role might be suitable for both men and women.

In the military sector before women were not allowed to have combat roles and such roles were only reserved for men, as men were considered physically stronger than women to participate in military roles. Even in politics, the parliament is heavily dominated by the men, there are very few reservations that help women participate in the parliamentary discussions. There has been bias in medical attention given to men and women, Women receive lesser medical facilities in comparison to men especially during and after pregnancy period.

To reduce the bias between men and women in the society the Indian government has taken some measures some of which are, In the case of Vishaka V. State of Rajasthan2 the fundamental rights of women were violated (article 14, 15,19,21 of the indian constitution) and due to this case certain guidelines were given by the law under the protection of women from domestic violence act 2005 which protected and promoted the right of women in household, workplaces as well as places of common interest.

Few of the other measures that were taken by the government are the implementation of the CEDAW (Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women) which was given by the United Nations were ratified and incorportated by the judiciary.3

The other measure that was taken by the government was 'the abolishment of prenatal diagnostic testing ban, the act's principal goal is to prohibit the use of sex selection procedures after conception and to avoid the misapplication of prenatal diagnostic technology for sex selective abortions.' Even though India is a patriarchal society, men too face many issues.

Some of the issue and bias faced by men are Males's sexual molestation is not recognised, and police stations rarely file a First Information Report (FIR); men are assumed to be the perpetrators by default, even if it was a woman who perpetrated sexual abuse against men. Bias against men are seen in situation such as divorce, child custody, sexual harassment, adultery etc.

Sexual orientation and individuality/ gender identity are crucial elements for our identities that must never be discriminated against, misused or abused. "The LGBTQ+ is an acronym for the people who belong in this community consisting of: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning." These phrases are used to define a person's gender identification or sexual orientation. This community commemorates and honors diversity, individuality and sexuality.

Regardless of the positive effects that are brought about by the LGBTIQ community, about 75% of the countries still criminalizes same sex relationships. The HRC (human rights committee) has been the most efficient and easiest method of fighting discrimination and protecting the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. All people, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or "other status," are guaranteed equality and non-discrimination under international human rights law. Human rights are the rights that a person enjoys merely by virtue of being human. Human rights are inalienable, and neither you nor your humanity can be taken away from you.

Yet why does this community face major marginalization and social exclusion? Why must there be constant conflict and rejection and negative family reactions on their LGBT children? Why is there continuous discrimination in workplaces? Why are they victims of hate crimes and violence?

On an individual, interpersonal and societal level, marginalization has been based on exclusion from fulfilling and full social lives. People on the fringes have little control over their lives and the resources available to them; they are often vilified and the object of negative public opinion. Their ability to contribute to society may be limited, and they may develop low self-esteem, self-confidence, and loneliness.

As a result of social policies and practices, they may have restricted access to valuable social resources such as education and health services, housing, income, leisure activities, and employment. People who identify as LGBT may encounter a variety of forms of marginalization, including racism, sexism, poverty, and other issues, as well as homophobia and transphobia, all of which have a negative impact on mental health.

Because of their marginalization3, LGBT people are often cut off from a variety of support networks, including their own families, and have restricted access to medical care, justice and legal services, and education that many others take for granted. LGBT people are routinely denied access to fundamental public services like healthcare and housing due to marginalization andintolerance based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, resulting to serious health inequalities.4

Only a tiny minority of teenagers used to come out to their families or reveal their sexual orientation to others. Until they were adults, the majority of lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals (LGB) kept their sexual orientation hidden. The Internet, school diversity clubs, and LGBT youth organisations have all provided realistic information, counsel, and support to homosexual and transgender kids in recent years.

More LGBT adolescents are coming out (revealing their homosexual or transgender identity to friends, family, and other adults) during adolescence as a consequence of increased access to services. A lack of communication and misunderstanding between parents and their LGBT children exacerbates family strife.

Family turmoil can emerge from communication issues and a lack of understanding regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, with an LGBT youth being removed from or driven out as a result. As a result of familial disagreement about their sexual orientation, many LGBT teens are placed in foster care, wind up in juvenile incarceration, or end up on the streets. These variables increase their risk of being mistreated and developing serious physical and mental health problems.5

As a result of widespread workplace discrimination, gay and transgender people face significant financial disadvantages. Discrimination leads to job insecurity and turnover, resulting in higher rates of unemployment and poverty among homosexual and transgender persons, as well as a salary disparity between LGBT and straight people.

LGBT people experience discrimination and stigma their whole lives, as well as sexual and physical assault, harassment6, and hate crimes. Coming out, gender transitions, internalized discrimination, loneliness and alienation, loss of family or social support, are all factors that can affect LGBT people's mental health and well-being. However, the experiences of LGBT persons who have been victims of violence and prejudice differ depending on factors such as ethnicity, gender, income, immigration status, and language barriers.6

Several countries across the globe have taken the initiative to support and celebrate the rights of the LGBTQ community. Gay or homosexual marriage was first legalized in Netherlands on the 1st of April in 2001. After taking this step forward several countries like Switzerland, and Costa Rica followed Netherlands.

India also plays an important role when it comes to the provision of rights for the LGBTQ+ community. In the historic decision5 of Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India, the Supreme Court of India decriminalized consensual homosexual sex between adults by reading down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code and removing consenting homosexual sex between adults from its purview. Discrimination against LGBT people still prevalent in rural areas, with family rejection and forced opposite-sex marriages commonplace.

On Monday, the Chennai high court ordered state and federal officials to set forth proposals for significant reforms to protect LGBT rights, moving far beyond the narrow constraints of a lawsuit made by a lesbian couple who claimed police harassment. The couple claimed that police harassed them after their parents filed a missing person's report, and Judge Anand Venkatesh of the Madras High Court decided in their favour.

The court, on the other hand, took advantage of the opportunity to issue a broad ruling, calling for an end to what he called "illegal discrimination" against LGBTQIA+ persons. He asked state and federal agencies to submit a report describing their compliance strategies. According to his ideas, police and government officials should get awareness training to guarantee that they respect LGBT rights.

In the landmark judgments of:
  • National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India,
  • Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India, and
  • Justice K.S.Puttaswamy v. Union of India (Puttaswamy)

The Supreme Court of India laid the groundwork for the queer and non-binary community to be granted a bundle of basic human rights, the legislature has failed to keep up with recent developments.

While same-sex couples now have the legal right to live together and conduct their personal affairs without fear of persecution, they nevertheless face discrimination in a variety of ways. As a result, it's critical to continue the discourse and discuss the many laws that continue to discriminate against LGBT+ people.

As a consequence, despite the fact that there is still a long way to go and countless difficulties to overcome, the battle for equality continues, despite the fact that the LGBTQ+ community continues to be denied civil rights.7

It is evident that LGBT persons, who are characterized by their sexual orientation, face prejudice and exclusion from society, and hence face difficulty achieving their needs. Exclusion and ostracism can range from simple personal connections to extensive social ignorance, exclusion, and ostracism, all of which can be a violation of human rights. LGBT For a long time, individuals have been participating in racial and economic justice campaigns.

Today, LGBT activists and organizations are increasingly drawing parallels between the LGBT rights movement and the economic and racial justice movements, claiming that people have multiple, layered identities and are members of multiple communities at the same time, all of which are oppressed and privileged. Finally, defending LGBT persons against violence and prejudice does not need the creation of new LGBT-specific rights or adoption of new international human rights standards.8

India is clearly falling behind, so much so that it took almost 25 years for the country's courts to legalize consensual and private same-sex activities. Of course, it is time to move forward and grant basic civil and political rights to the gay and lesbian community, rights that should have been received long ago.

Adoption of children by homosexual couples is shown to be important as they can provide a loving home; as future parents, they have the opportunity to open up their heart and home to children who are in dire need of help. Make sure they never become orphans or feel unneeded. Adoption also gives the opportunity to the same sex couple to enjoy the beautiful form of parenthood.

Refusing some people's choice to marry would be discriminatory and would result in second-class citizens. Same-sex couples should be able enjoy the same benefits as married heterosexual couples.

Marriage is a secular institution that should not be hampered by religious hostility to same-sex unions. Religious organisations have the right to refuse to marry homosexual couples, but they should not legislate marriage rules that apply to the entire community. As time moved forward the people have also evolved, so their idea of life, and understanding should have also changed. Traditional marriage's notion has also developed with time; in the past, the fundamental philosophy of marriage was always about building an institution between a man and a woman.

Due to the large numbers of homosexuality in India homosexual marriages would bring great financial gain to the state as well as local government which in turn will boost the economy. In short, equality means providing the same choice to all. If mixed-race couples are denied the opportunity to get married, but provides civil society with the same legal effect, can easily be regarded as unacceptable racist discrimination. The prohibition of marrying same-sex couples is equally unacceptable.

Just as how we as citizens enjoy the rights of freedom in the case of adoption and marriage it doesn't give any reason for someone to be prohibited of this right only because of their sexuality and choice of partner, and have equal benefits like heterosexual couples. When the people, traditions, and the whole world can evolve then the acceptance of homosexuality and understanding their importance should not be a hefty task.

Marriage is not only for the procreation but also because the two individuals choose to live together forever and promise certain things to each other, being a part of the homosexual community procreation is not possible and this should not prevent them from getting married by the law.

The choice of adoption by homosexual partners should be allowed as they are also willing and able parents who can provide a loving and affectionate household to the unable children. It is also statistically proven that same sex couples are fit and capable parents just as heterosexual couples and that their children of same sex couples are just as psychologically healthy as well.

There are many crucial impacts of gender bias in society. On an individual level gender bias can cause so many physical and mental issues to the person suffering bias. Few of the common mental issues that are faced by the person are depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders etc. Due the stress that are faced there are chances that the person may experience suicidal thoughts.

Even though gender bias is experienced at an individual level it can have an impact on a society as a whole. The first group of people that gender bias is going to affect are the children and the adolescents since they are the one growing up around these stereotypes, they tend to have an influence on young people's behavior, academic choices, desires, attitudes, and more.

Adults too can experience the negative effects of discrimination, for instance due to the difference in pay of salaries and wages between men and women (men who get paid more than women for the same job done) in the working class and the poorer sections of the society, there are chances that independent women may not be able to live a independent life and chances for older women to be homeless.

The discrimination in society has also effected men that are emotional, they They can never completely express their feelings without being condemned. Similarly, many jurisdictions do not allow males to take parental leave. All of this eventually leads to an increase in male suicide. As a result, it affects everyone.

To reduce the gender bias in a society we must recognize everyone as equal even though they may look different physically or think differently mentally, We still belong to the same society hence it is our responsibility that gender based discrimination is stopped. In India LGBTQ+ community should have all the rights just as an ordinary citizen, we should consider them just as one of us and never aliens.

To stop the prevailing discrimination between male and female, We must protect the girl child and rejoice in her birth. Only then will the practise of female foeticide be outlawed in India. We need to educate the females and train them to be self-sufficient.

Whether in a public space or at work, we must make the setting and surroundings safe for girls and women. Women may now be found in almost every area and industry. They work as scientists, physicians, engineers, attorneys, managers, college and university professors, and in a variety of other fields that were formerly considered unsuitable for women.

As a result, it is our obligation to instill confidence in them and assist them in realizing their full potential. To make it simpler for them to work, we should give particular services such as maternity, child care, and menstruation leave.

End-Notes:

  1.  National Portal of India, Knowindia.india.gov.in (2022), https://knowindia.india.gov.in/profile/literacy.php
  2. Vishaka and Ors. v State of Rajasthan 1997 AIR 1997 SC 3011
  3. https://gnwp.org/wp-content/uploads/India-Case-Study-.pdf
  4. LGBTQ Students on Campus: Issues and Opportunities for Higher Education Leaders - Higher Education Today "LGBTQ Students On Campus: Issues And Opportunities For Higher Education Leaders - Higher Education Today". 2017. Higher Education Today. https://www.higheredtoday.org/2017/04/10/lgbtq-students-higher-education/.
  5. Gay Bars and Gay Rights - JSTOR Daily "Gay Bars And Gay Rights - JSTOR Daily". 2021. JSTOR Daily. https://daily.jstor.org/gay-bars-and-gay-rights/.
  6. International Journal of Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Studies (IJIMS), 2014, Vol 1, No.5, 317-331. 2021. Ijims.Com. https://www.ijims.com/uploads/cae8049d
  7. A love without a name: Identifying homosexuality in Indian language and literature "A Love Without A Name: Identifying Homosexuality In Indian Language And Literature". 2018. Hindustan Times.
  8. Editorial, Reuters. 2021. "LGBTQ Rights | Reuters.Com". U.S.. https://www.reuters.com/subjects/lgbt-rights.

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