Gender biased laws in India, not treating males and females on equal footing [2020]

Author- Paramveer singh
college- Panjab University Chandigarh  

Introduction– Gender biased laws in India:

Gender bias refers to an individual receiving totally different treatment supported the person’s real or perceived individuality, Or in other words we can say that when men and women are treated differently, in a way that is unfair. The past Indian history clearly shows unequal treatment between men and girls.

In India, since long back, girls were thought of as a laden section of the society and that they were neglected for hundreds of years. The birth of the son is being celebrated whereas the birth of a girl is crammed with pain. Boys square measure inspired to be robust and outgoing however women square measure inspired to be homebound.

Is this the society we want to live in? Is this the society we want to pass on to our children? Perhaps we should pause and reflect on the traditions which drive our choices.

Men over Women:

Illiteracy

Literacy is the key to the lock which opens the door for the democratic participation of men and women both. In this race of literacy, Men are leading the women. The literacy rate of females is 65.46% and on the other hand, the literacy rate of males is 80%. So how it is possible for a bird to fly on one wing?

Social conditioning

Gender discrimination laws in India restricts her ability to move up, ensuring she cannot earn an adequate income or ever become independent. Many ladies don’t seem to be able to build the foremost basic of choices: whether or not and once to own a baby. They’re controlled to such an extent that they have to take permission before they are going to the market or to go to friends and relatives.

Son Preference

India is in giant half and has been for an extended amount of history, a patricentric society. We’ve continuously favoured our sons. Despite all the economic progress We’ve created, despite all the progressive education We’ve received, one factor has not changed: We’ve established a tradition of son-preference.

Sex- choice

When the question of sex-choice comes, literate persons are on top of the list than the illiterate. We all think that increased education would solve the problem but everything is going wrong. People literally beg for a son and blame women who give birth to a girl. Is anything more shameful?  The legislation passed an Act in 1994 i.e The PC &PndtAct. An amendment was made in 2003. This was passed to make sex-selection an illegal, criminal act in India. But law enforcement fails in stemming the tide of these horrific conditions based on gender bias laws in India

Gender Biased Laws in India with women:

Marriageable age

The minimum age for a wedding for a boy is twenty-one, however, eighteen for a girl. This can be a legal extension of the patricentric mindset that believes that an adult female should be younger than the person.

Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act

Girls are still not equal guardians of their kids. A father is taken into account the “natural guardian” of a baby, though the custody of offspring beneath the age of five can unremarkably be awarded to the mother.

No right to Marital Property

At the time of separation or divorce, an Indian Women is entitled Only to maintenance from her husband. She has no right to the assets, like house or industrial property, bought in her husband’s name throughout the wedding.
Global gender gap index 2020:

According to the Global Gender Gap index 2020, India was ranked 112th out of 153 countries and results in 66.8% of the gap. In the area of health and survival, life expectancy for women, and sex ratio, India was ranked second-worst country among south Asian and BRICS. nations in the sex ratio category.  Inequality in Indian politics further extends to reservations for seats in local government. The percentage of women who hold the parliamentary general elections was 65.63% whereas the percentage of men turn out to be 67.09%.[1]

In terms of representation of women in parliament, India was ranked 20th from the bottom.

We all talk about what a woman is facing, what women have to go through. If she is the sufferer then there are courts as last resort to listen to her. But what about men? If a man is a sufferer of domestic violence, sexual harassment, sexual assault, or rape then where are the laws? Don’t you think if a man is harassed there must be laws to listen to them too?

Gender Biased Laws in India with Men:

Every Man isn’t identical. We’ve created our mentality to follow the herd and not paying attention to Cries of Men for justice. Starting from very basic, that there are reserved seats in buses, trains, Metro. Moreover, the Ticket counters for booking tickets are also separate for women, Or In many fields, women got some kind of reservations, etc.

True that there was a time once the govt. had to create special provisions within the constitution for Women to make sure equality, however sadly, a number of these provisions are clearly unfair to men.

“Sexual harassment legislation in its present form makes all men unequal to all women,”

Warren Farrell.

Statistical findings over the years show however men’s rights are desecrated just because no law supported them from inessential filings against them, leading to unwarranted arrest and harassment.

In 2012, the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill was passed the provisions of this bill are restricted to women and their modesty. Is that this as a result of men doesn’t get harassed in Indian workplaces?

Economic Times Synova conducted a survey in which 527 people were queried across seven cities – Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai Pune, Delhi, and Hyderabad – 19% said they have faced some kind of sexual harassment at the office. According to the survey, Bangalore was on the top where the respondent had been harassed sexually. Percentage results in 51%. Delhi and Hyderabad are other main cities with 31% and 28% respectively, where the male is victim to sexual harassment. They carry this trauma as no specific right is available for them[2].

Taking further and putting some light on the statistic of harassment with men which one must not ignore. In 2014, the percentage of women is 25% and the percentage of men is 13% who are harassed as per PEW research statistics.[3] The age of children between 8-18 years suffers from online harassment. We often see various statues which talk about sexual harassment against women but why legislation is silent on the matters regarding sexual harassment against men?

Law is made to give justice, but why there is an injustice to the extent that there is no law to listen to the cries of men. Article 14 of the constitution which is our fundamental right that there is a “Right to Equality” but legislation is lacking in considering men related issues and focused more upon women. But why there is a violation of the right to equality?

In the present scenario, molestation laws in India doesn’t seem to be gender-neutral. Mostly it is noticed that, the victim could be female and  the wrongdoer could be a male.

There are laws which protects the women. Following are the examples:

  1. Section 354 of IPC (criminalises assault or use of criminal force to a girl with intent to outrage her modesty)
  2. 354A (punishes molestation committed by a person against a woman).
  3. 354B (punishment for intent to take off a woman),
  4. 354C (voyeurism),
  5. 354D (stalking),
  6. 375 (criminalises rape of a girl by a man)
  7. 509 (word, gesture, or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman).

In the above sections of IPC, the word male is mentioned only as a wrongdoer but no protection is given to him. Such offenses become very difficult for a man to prove as the presumption is taken in favour of a woman. Moreover, The burden of proof lies on a man to prove himself innocent. Here a question arises until when it will continue?

No law, no statute is there to shield males from the bloodthirsty act of harassment and rape.

Under Indian law, all the laws and sections are meant only for females. Section 377 of the Indian penal code is the only section that talks about ‘sodomy’.

Misuse of Laws by Women:

The question of aggressive misuse and frivolous complaints being filed against men arises again, where 197,762 individuals all across Asian countries were arrested in that particular year and, only 14.4% were guilty. This was the Report of Crime in India 2012 and Statistics by Ministry of Home Affairs on Section 498-A of Indian penal code,1860[4]

Also in 2014, According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) has found that an estimated 60 lakh women have perpetrated physical violence against husbands. No provocation from the husband’s side.

Another important fact mentioned by the Centre for Civil Society (CCS)  that around 18% of Indian adult men surveyed reported being coerced or forced to have sex. Of those, 16% claimed a female perpetrator and 2% claimed a male perpetrator.

Does Indian law give protection to a male where he is forced to have sex and what if he alleges this to be rape? If the answer is NO, isn’t it violative of our fundamental right under Article 14 which says equality before the law and prevents any discrimination on the grounds of gender?

Misuse of Anti-Dowry Laws:

Dowry is one of the biggest social issues which no civilized society would tolerate. Efforts should be made to eradicate this social evil. However, an alternative aspect of the coin which usually unlooked shouldn’t be unheeded. And this aspect of the coin – is that the misuse of those provisions by some unscrupulous wives to make disturbance on husband and family!

Here also, As per the Indian Evidence Act, the court takes the presumption in favour of a woman and burden to prove innocence lies on accused. This not only ropes the husband but his whole family.

Moreover, The new addition in a women’s legal ordnance is The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act – This law is pro-women and anti-men. This law assumes that “every man as a virtual torturer” and women as victims”. This law is totally vague and talks about economical & emotional abuse.

Consequences were: suicides by many husbands and family who were roped in such false cases because they were unable to bear the social trauma.

If we talk about numbers Near about 44.7% of the suicide victims were married males while only 25% were married females.

According to The Honourable Supreme court of India, Merely because the provision is declared constitutional, it does not give licence to unscrupulous persons to wreak personal vendetta.

Conclusion:

Men and women are the most important part of society. Both contribute towards the development of society but since long back women are oppressed sections of society. They face a lot of struggle to reach the level of equality but In India, there is a patriarchal privilege that is not controlling the legal process but also the subject matter through the gender discrimination laws in India. If this continues then the condition of a female will not improve.

No doubt that efforts are made by the government to improve equality and give equal status to women in every field i.e. The Hindu marriage act 1956, Protection of women from domestic violence act 2005, Hindu succession act 1956, etc. but lack of implementation is always being the main hindrance. The constitution of India is working for more than 57 years to give equality to women but there is always a question mark on this. That means, what law promises on paper fails to carry through in reality.

Every coin has two sides. Hence it is hard to deny the Other side of the coin. Today, these gender biased laws in India gives a shield to wives has become their source to harass husbands. This happens mostly in the case of rape, domestic violence & dowry. But no such laws have been made by legislation to protect the rights of men. This is the major flaw our legislation has and justice is not rightly given. Hence, laws should be made to give equal rights and implementation must take place.

If change is not made then, no one can stop others to blame this society as male dominating society or women favoured society. Equality can be achieved only and only when both are treated on equal footing.

“Fight for gender equality is not a fight against men. It is a fight against traditions that have chained them – a fight against attitudes that are ingrained in the society – it is a fight against system – a fight against proverbial Lakshman Rekha which is different for men and different for women. The society must rise to the occasion. It must recognize & accept fact that men and women are equal partners in life. They are individuals who have their own identity”. 

Dr Justice A.S Anand


References:

[1] http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GGGR_2020.pdf

[2]https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/topic/https%3A//economictimes.indiatimes.com/special-report/even-men-are  not-safe-from-sexual-harassment-at-

[3] PEW Research Centre. 2014.”Online Harassment”. “http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/10/22/online-harassment/

[4] http://ncrb.gov.in/StatPublications/CII/CII2012/Statistics2012

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