By : Shashank Suresh
Women have been oppressed for years, taught they are insufficient and even undesirable. People in our culture frequently have a prejudiced view of women as a result of indoctrination. Sexism and patriarchy frequently obscure people’s judgment, hurting both men and women. From being ignorant to the problems women confront to being tone-deaf to their demands, sexism and patriarchy can obscure people’s judgment. Women are socialized to feel that they are a burden from an early age. Women are treated with apathy and denied their rights in patriarchal societies. Women are continuing their fight against patriarchy and sexism. The situation has altered since the Indian Constitution was enacted.
The Indian Constitution not only guarantees women’s equality, but also authorizes the government to implement measures of positive discrimination in their favor to mitigate the accumulated socioeconomic, educational, and political disadvantages they experience. Fundamental rights include, among other things, ensuring equality before the law and equal protection under the law; prohibiting discrimination against any citizen based on religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth; and ensuring equal job opportunities for all people. The Constitution’s Articles 14, 15, 15(3), 16, 39(a), 39(b), 39(c), and 42 are particularly important in this respect.
State Initiatives for Women
• Reservation for Women in Local Self Government- The 73rd Constitutional Amendment Acts passed in 1992 by Legislature guarantee one-third of the entire seats for ladies in altogether chosen offices in local bodies whether in rural zones or urban zones.
• The National Plan of Action for The Girl Child (1991-2000)- The idea of Action is to guarantee survival, protection, and progress of the girl child with the decisive objective of structuring an enhanced future for the girl child.
• National Commission for Women- In January 1992, the Government structured this statutory body with a precise command to study and screen all substances concerning the constitutional and legal protection provided for women, review the existing legislation to recommend amendments wherever obligatory.
• National Policy for The Empowerment of Women, 2001- The Department of Women & Child Development in the Ministry of Human Resource Development has arranged a National Policy for the Empowerment of Women in the year 2001. This policy aims to raise awareness about the advancement, development, and empowerment of women.
Important Decision by Court
A landmark judgment in protecting women’s rights in the context of the family is the SC judgment in Vineeta Sharma vs. Rakesh Sharma (CIVIL APPEAL NO. DIARY NO.32601 OF 2018.) where the court held that daughters would have equal coparcenary rights in Hindu Undivided Family property (HUF) by their birth and could not be excluded from inheritance.
The Supreme Court also held in The Secretary, Ministry of Defence vs. Babita Puniya & Ors. (Civil Appeal Nos 9367-9369 of 2011.) that all women army officers are eligible for permanent commissions, allowing them to be in command roles. Women officers are now on par with their male counterparts when it comes to promotions, rank, benefits, and pensions, thereby fortifying their position in the Defense sector, an institution with rigid gender norms.
In Shayra Bano vs Union of India (Writ Petition (C) No. 118 of 2016.) case, the court declared that the practice of instant triple talaq (talaq-e-bidat) is against the basic tenets of the Quran. Talaq-e- bidat is a practice that gives a man the right to divorce his wife by uttering ‘talaq’ three times in one sitting, without his wife’s consent. The court directed the Centre to pass legislation in this regard.
The court framed detailed guidelines in the Vishakha vs. State of Rajasthan (AIR 1997 SC 3011.) case for employers to follow to provide a mechanism for redressal of grievances of employees. These guidelines were eventually formalized as legislation with the passing of The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, a vital law to protect millions of women who enter the country’s workforce every year.
The court also affirmed the right of a woman in exercising her sexual freedom in the personal sphere with the “Joseph Shine vs. Union of India (WRIT PETITION (CRIMINAL) NO. 194 OF 2017. ) judgment wherein the court placed its reliance on the right to privacy flowing from Article 21 and, declared as unconstitutional, Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, which gives a husband the exclusive right to prosecute his wife’s lover even as similar rights were not conferred on a wife to prosecute the woman with whom her husband has committed adultery.
Every consortium must deal with social change since social circumstances never stay the same. If a social change occurs as a result of legislation or judicial exposition, it indicates a shift in the acceptable way of life, or maybe a better way of life. The laws and lives of a particular society are affected by changing forms; the law must keep up with the changing socio-economic trends and political movements of the society while keeping a particular balance between individual rights and responsibilities. As a result, law and equality present a potential force for achieving progressive social change.