Monday, 31 January 2022

Sexist remarks


Sexist remarks made in the court, however subconscious be it,  is very common within the four walls of the courtrooms of Indian Judiciary. In the case of M.I Shadad vs Mohd. Abdullah Mir in the Jammu & Kashmir high court delivered by Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar, Judge and Justice Bansi Lal Bhat, Judge held that serving of summons only of male adult member of the family, in the absence of the defendant was not discriminatory towards women. This was due to the age old Indian system where women having no identity outside her role of serving as  house-wives, going through motherhood, pregnancy, menstruation, mostly illiteracy or Parda Nashin. This legislation was passed so that Indian women were not expected to give out such services, rather expected to stay home and follow the social norms of the Indian society. The laws on marital rape is explicitly sexist as it gives out the notion that aa woman’s body is a legal possession of her husband, it is a serious issue of human rights violation where a woman cannot refuse consent to sex because there are no laws backed by Indian Judiciary to protect them. This exception in section 375 of the Indian  Penal Code needs to be reviewed or done away with completely. 

In the Karnataka high court, in the case Raja vs State of Karnataka, the Judge granted yet  again gave an anticipatory bail to the man accused for rape and commented that it is “unbecoming of Indian women” to go to sleep after  being raped”. They were disappointed and found it unusual that the woman after being raped didn’t “ hurry back home in a humiliated and a devastated state. ” In the Guwahati High Court case of Md. Jakir Ali vs The State of Assam, a woman was cheated into having sexual intercourse with the man (accused) in promise of marriage, after she became pregnant he denied marrying he or taking responsibility of their child. Even though the accused was convicted under Section 376 and 417 of the Indian Penal Code for Punishment for sexual assault and cheating respectively, there were discussions in the courtroom where they remarked the woman of easy virtue and very luke warmly address sexual assault, rather they focused more on how a woman’s Chasity or virginity which they believe so to be the most valuable “possession” for a woman is taken away from her through deception. So they opined that a “good woman” is one that ``protects' ' her  chastity or virginity. In a Bombay  High Court  granted bail to a rape accused on the  grounds stating that  the  victim was a women of loose virtue and used to do dirty stuff.

 This is a  chronic problem of of the Indian Judiciary and sexism and gender based discrimination must take a back seat. Although it seems that it’ll take us some time to get to the position of having a gender neutral courtroom trials, we can begin by assembling legal expectations to take a stand in such matters, creating a conducive space for women lawyers where they are taken seriously and appointing more female judges to the judiciary. We are also looking towards a better time when this nation will finally see its first female Chief Justice

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