Gender Inequality and Constitutional Rights of Women to Fight It

  • Jahnavi S Khandare
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  • Jahnavi S Khandare

    Student at MIT World Peace University, India

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Abstract

In a country like India amongst poverty, high crime rates, illiteracy and much of other issues gender discrimination is one of the prominent issues faced, which the country is trying to try to do away with for the last word purpose of development. Here, discrimination against women are often said to be at peak, even with the status of a developing country that it’s acquiring with leaps and bonds. Within the words of Manu, an ancient interpreter of Hindu law: “Women are alleged to be within the custody of father once they are children, they need to be under the custody of their husbands once married and under the custody of her son in adulthood or as widows. In no circumstances she should be allowed to mention herself independently.”

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International Journal of Law Management and Humanities, Volume 4, Issue 3, Page 42 - 45

DOI: http://doi.one/10.1732/IJLMH.26697

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution -NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits remixing, adapting, and building upon the work for non-commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Copyright © IJLMH 2021

In a country like India amongst poverty, high crime rates, illiteracy and much of other issues gender discrimination is one of the prominent issues faced, which the country is trying to try to do away with for the last word purpose of development. Here, discrimination against women are often said to be at peak, even with the status of a developing country that it’s acquiring with leaps and bonds. Within the words of Manu, an ancient interpreter of Hindu law: “Women are alleged to be within the custody of father once they are children, they need to be under the custody of their husbands once married and under the custody of her son in adulthood or as widows. In no circumstances she should be allowed to mention herself independently.”

Gender inequality can simply be interpreted because the discrimination amongst women on the thought of sex albeit Article 15 [2]of our constitution prohibits the same. At various occasions it’s said that a lady child born during a household could also be a curse since she is typically an expense, as she is taken under consideration to not have the potential to earn and is just to be kept reception. She is an expense for her father since a hefty amount of dowry has got to tend during her marriage. This is changing with time but yet there are many other issues faced by women, which have made their lives a living hell. Having an insight to the past, women were treated as goddesses altogether sections of society, regardless of their age. Women were treated with dignity and respect but with the changing time and thus the way our patriarchal society is, the conditions of women are degrading. Albeit we will applaud the many changes just in case of girls being allowed to possess access to education, can work outside the household, marry someone of their choice which were all a criminal offense for the society earlier, despite of this fact we cannot leave it unseen that the issues like violence , crime like rapes, harassment, molestation, unequal treatment at workplace in terms of promotion, salary, incentives, opportunities female foeticide, and lots of more evils still exist, deep rooted within the society.[3] Not to forget that the most recent way of exploiting women – surrogacy. Women from financially backward classes are forced by their husbands or families to sell their wombs. The ladies are made to be the surrogates for a family. After delivering the baby, immediately the ladies are forced to be surrogates for a few other couple. The question to several would be why? It’s just because being a surrogate, a lady is paid a hefty sum of cash for taking care of herself and therefore the baby for 9 months. The husband of such women usually make it a habitual practice because it helps them earn tons of cash, without doing anything themselves. It’s extremely painful for ladies to be surrogates one after the opposite also because it is extremely risky for his or her lives. Women usually comply with do that albeit they need to travel through such a lot pain because it’s instilled in their minds since they were children that they’re to serve their husbands wishes and do everything as per what their husband asks them to do. Them denying the stress of their husbands is very unprincipled. In times like these especially during Covid 19 pandemic, cases of abuse on women are on an increase. Many are taking advantage of things which is resulting in increase in violence cases, rape and even prostitution as these women are in need of cash to satisfy their basic necessities. Women are not only victims of such crimes but various other heinous crimes across the globe.

While we propagate that each citizen of our country have the proper to measure a life with dignity and equality, yet why are women still the weaker section of the society? Why may be a woman always treated below a man? In our country crimes against women stand at 53.9% and in our capital the number of 92% women are reported to have faced sexual misconduct or physical abuse, which is not even surprising anymore. Women aren’t only victim to harsh and abusive comments in terms of something like driving or the garments they but even a topic of physical abuse once they travel around. Women are treated as an object to fulfil the desire of males in the recent days, when men themselves wouldn’t tolerate the same abuse on their own sisters or daughter, but would have great satisfaction in fulfilling their carnal desires with other women. They don’t even consider that in the future the women in their families can face the same inhumanity.

Even though the law has allowed woman to possess an equal share in property after the amendment of 2005, yet thanks to the mentality of the male dominant society half the ladies hand over fighting cases in courts for his or her share, while half aren’t even informed about their rights. Some famous cases such as Shayra Bano Vs UOI, Nirbhaya case- Mukesh & Anr vs State For Nct Of Delhi & Ors , Vishaka and others v State of Rajasthan, Laxmi Agarwal case, all throw a light on how women have been a victim of triple talaq, [4]sexual harassment at work place, rapes, and acid attacks. Woman face poverty, lack of education, unequal pay for equal work, low skilled jobs, dowry, female infanticide, sexual harassment, domestic violence, child marriage, health issues and many other issues.

Due to the harsh customs followed earlier such as sati and child marriage, the women are always portrayed to be weak.[5] Some women of this point need to work for low wages, are forced to seem up to prostitution and also find yourself losing top positions within the companies only because of the gender inequality which has been propagated to everyone during these years as if it’s an achievement to not treat women equally or with dignity. Women are even burnt alive or being intimidated to be divorced when the dowry requirement is not fulfilling which only portrays that women are an object to generate money from. Nowadays aside from prostitution, women are forced to still their womb to become surrogate mothers time and again only for the rationale that their husbands earn extra money. Human trafficking is seen most against women. Killing the kid when she is inside the womb simply because she may be a girl. At times when the sex of the child isn’t found before birth, the girl child is killed after being born, earlier especially in Haryana. Women are to follow the practice of eating the left-over food only after all the male members have eaten or having the stale food which in turn can affect their health seriously in some cases. Not just Hindu law but even Muslim law has horrifying activities against women such as talaq e biddat[6], nikah halala where the wife has to marry someone else and consummate the wedding, give talaq then come to her first husband. This practice is just not only abusing the emotions of the women who have to remarry, but also against the emotions and will of women whose husbands are the males with whom the lady has to consummate the marriage for which the males get a hefty amount. [7]Polygamy is another evil faced by these women.

The constitutional provisions for women in India are helping women to gain respect, equality in the society along with allowing them to live life with dignity. Article 14 talks about equality before law, while no discrimination on the basis of sex is given in 15 along with allowing provisions for women and children in 15(3), equal opportunity in employment in article 16. DPSP for equal pay and right to an adequate means of livelihood in article 39 d and 39 a. Maternity relief and standardized conditions at work in article 42, article 46 for special care in education and protection against exploitation. Article 47, is regarding improving nutrition levels and standard of living, while 51A(e) is about renouncing practices derogatory to the dignity of women. Reserved seats in member and chairperson in panchayats, in constituencies of municipalities in articles 243D (3), (4), 243T (3)(4) respectively are all under the constitution which are in favour of women. Punishable offences against women under IPC include[8]

Rape (Sec.376), kidnapping and abduction for different purpose (Sec. 363-373), Dowry Deaths or their attempts (Sec. 302/304-B IPC), Torture, both mental and physical (Sec. 498-A IPC), Molestation (Sec. 354 IPC), Sexual Harassment (Sec. 509 IPC). Some legislative moves to help women- The Employees State Insurance Act, 1948, The Plantation Labour Act, 1951, The Family Courts Act, 1954,The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, The Special Marriage Act, 1954, The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 (Amended in 1995), The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, Hindu Succession Act, 1956 with amendment in 2005, Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, Dowry Prohibition Act, The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1976, The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976, the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1983,  Indecent Representation of Women Act, 1986, Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987, The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act. All these not just protect the dignity, life of women but also send a strong message from the state of women empowerment and improving their conditions.

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[2] Women security and legal safeguards in India. (2015, November 17). Retrieved May 2, 2021, from Lawctopus.com website: https://www.lawctopus.com/academike/women-security-legal-safeguards-india/.

[3] (N.d.). Retrieved May 2, 2021, from Edugeneral.org website: https://edugeneral.org/blog/polity/women-rights-in-india/.

[4] The Shadow Pandemic: Violence against women during COVID-19. (n.d.). Retrieved May 2, 2021, from Unwomen.org website: https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/in-focus-gender-equality-in-covid-19-response/violence-against-women-during-covid-19.

[5] Gender equality: Women’s economic empowerment. (n.d.). Retrieved May 2, 2021, from One.un.org website: https://in.one.un.org/unibf/gender-equality/.

[6] SHEROES – the women-only social network. (n.d.). Retrieved May 2, 2021, from Sheroes.com website: https://sheroes.com/articles/women-rights-india/NzExNg=.

[7] Singh, A. (2016, December 24). Gender Inequality in India. Retrieved May 2, 2021, from Indiacelebrating.com website: https://www.indiacelebrating.com/social-issues/gender-inequality-in-india/.

[8] Supra Note 7.

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