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Gender Justice : A lawless tale of discrimination

Parita Mashruwala, Law student


For Justice Krishna Iyer, law does not exist for its own sake. It is related to social situations. One cannot understand or evaluate human rights divorced from social and historical context. Rights of the women are an important part of human rights. Gender Justice is integral to social justice. Gender justice isn’t a reality yet. Indian women are still not free, exploited and commodified. No society can be free, fair or just until its women enjoy full freedom and justice.

Robert Ingersoll once wrote,

“There will never be a generation of great man until there has been a generation of free woman - of free mother’s.”

Constitutional Imperatives of equality of status and opportunity and social justice for the Indian woman remain paper rhetoric and futuristic. Part III of the constitution abolishes inequality between man and woman. Gender equality in public employment and office is assured. Special measures for the upliftment of women is taken. Equal pay for equal work regardless of sex is now expressed in legislation. If the promises made by law were facts of life, India would be women’s paradise. Law has abolished dowry. Rape is a crime since long but why does it still haunt womanhood? Equal wages for women is the law and yet socio economic research, tells the lawless tale of discrimination. If equality between man and woman is a law then why it is a matter of discussion even today ? Rape is an offence but rape takes place even in the police stations which are law enforcing agencies, the famous Mathura rape case is one of them. So the crime thrives and criminals are acquitted. Rape cases, dowry deaths, domestic violence against women are still horror and terror in the daily newspaper. Very recently, former High Court Judge CS Karnan was arrested for making offensive comments to the female Judges, for issuing rape threats and passing sexually coloured remarks against women lawyers and the members of court of staff.

Although gender equality is guaranteed by constitution, family laws continue to make gross discrimination between both the gender . Under Hindu personal law for instance in many parts of India a Hindu woman could not be a co-parcenor or joint family manager, could not inherit an equal share with her male counter-part. Luckily Hindu women have now improved their proprietary position in some parts due to statutory intervention.

In Muslim personal law for dissolution of marriage major provisions are for dissolution of marriage by husband . There is only one provision as compared to men where women can dissolve the marriage and that is only when husband delegates the power of divorce to his wife. It is know as delegated legislation or Talaq -e- Tafweed.

Surprisingly in Indian Penal Code 1860, the section 8 which is the definition of gender is also gender discriminatory. It says the word “he” shall be used for any person whether male or female .

No doubt that women have progressed and are creating an independent position for themselves in the society, yet lack of education and awareness, which were considered as factors for their backwardness do not remain the soul cause of injustice faced by them. In the current scenario, the main cause of distress continues to remain the poor implementation of laws. It is very easy thing to devise good laws; the difficulty is to make them effective. The execution of laws is more important than making of them. Although laws have been made to guarantee rights to both man and woman, and specific provisions have been created especially for woman, they continue to remain “words of hope” for women seeking justice.

To conclude the demand for gender justice an old quote of 1911 from Oliver Schreiner which is still relevant in India:

“Our women’s movement resembles strongly the gigantic religious and intellectual movement which for centuries Convulsed the life of Europe, and had, as its ultimate outcome, the final emancipation of the human intellect and the freedom of the human spirit.”

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