Supreme Court verdicts : A stepping stone to fortify gender equality:

In a country like India where Patriarchy and misogyny are so deep rooted, it is almost impossible to create absolute gender equality and this inhuman tendency of inequality  looms large in current situation where in some way or the other women have become the victim of patriarchal society. Still the male-dominated societies have not equally accepted women as they are.

At present the patriarchy of society is challenged by a movement which started in other part of the world but has reached India to break the chains of dominance of one part of the society. India’s #MeToo has gained momentum with more and more women sharing their audacity of harassment they have faced all those years. What was then a matter to discuss in USA has now become the focal point in India. The ‘women of all ages’ are coming publicly for expressing what kind of ordeal they went through. It’s a harsh truth wherever you live the women are targeted by scavengers to show their dominance or fulfil their lust.

All over the globe the story remains the same where the exploitation of women has become a common culture. The society since ages has seen the domination of one gender over other. If there are examples of harassment, violence to women there are some powerful hearted women which have challenged this mentality. The 25-year-old Nobel laureate Nadia Murad has challenged this dominance against one of the ruthless force in this planet. The Iraqi Yazidi was kidnapped by Islamic State (IS) maniacs and kept as a sex slave to whom they can feed on. She remains strong to fight for a better cause in future. Another story is of a 15-year-old girl whose only crime was to study and become a doctor before being shot in the head by the Talibans who saw a 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai as a threat of their domination.

It is mainly the strong will-power of the women which keep them surviving and fighting for their cause. Some of the change agents do help in this mostly lone battle which seems to be long and never ending. Our nation is also one of the country where some of us are seeing women rising as threat of our domination same as IS or Taliban’s but what separate us with them is we don’t carry our weapons in hand but in minds. We all have that guns and bullets in our mind which can end the women’s freedom to live; only we wear the cloak of feminism.

Many times the civil societies and different public institutions have helped to give voice to powerless, give support to the weak, a hand to the needy. The Supreme Court of India in many landmark decisions has shown that misogynist approaches is not needed in the country and have to change. In recent 31st October ruling SC court turns the ruling of Delhi High Court over acquittal of four men for raping woman. The Apex Court said, “women has right to refuse to submit herself to sexual intercourse to anyone, even if she is habituated to sexual intercourse and that no inference on her ‘character’ is permissible from that.”

The two judge bench of Justices R Banumathi and Indira Banerjee was listening a 21-year-old case where men raped woman because they think that woman was of ‘bad character’. The court observed the case where a bogus charge of running prostitution was imposed on woman. The bench said “even in cases where there is some material to show that the victim was habituated to sexual intercourse, no inference like the victim being a woman of ‘loose moral character’ is permissible to be drawn from that circumstance alone”. This stern message from Justices’ is clear that women ‘no’ is a ‘no’ and should be respected.

From time to time Apex Court has set an exemplary example to the society to change the mentality of domination. It’s the society as a whole has to be changed. The court verdict on 28th September where the five-judge constitution bench step aside hundreds of year old tradition and allowed ‘women of all ages’ to visit and pray in Sabarimala temple in Kerala. The women were given right what they have wanted for so long but the recent spate over this has shown how much we lack in gender equality. In India banning women to enter in temples is same as banning women to drive in Saudi Arabia, which latter has changed.

Another set of Judgment where Apex Court was keen to send a message to the society was too struck down the 158-year-old section 497 of IPC where adultery was a crime. Section 497 treated married women as a property of their husband which again shows the blatant patriarchal character of our society. Scraping provision of section 377 where Homosexuality was a crime was also landmark decision for boosting the morale of Indian women. The Chief Justice Indu Malhotra while pronouncing the verdict famously said, ‘history owes apology to LGBTQ community and kin’.

It is right time to introspect ourselves and think what kind of world are we creating to our better halve of the population. We are demising their thoughts and imposing ours, if that is not possible, then using an act of force. Philosopher Kate Manne describes this as ‘Himpathre for a man’s reputation than a woman’s trauma.

Suprava Dash

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