“There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of the law and in the name of justice.”
In this developing nation of the Republic of India, built on the principles of equality and democracy, it is a very perturbing fact that even in this era, women are believed to be inferior class citizens of the country. They are bound to face several social barriers and are victims of the apathetic and cold-hearted attitude of males in society. They are supposed to take care of the family without uttering a single word of protest. Many a time, they are considered an object just for the reproduction of children. This position of women is determined from the very ancient age, even evident in Manusmriti that states “Na stree swatantram arhati” which means, “no woman deserves freedom.” Various evil practices such as Sati and Devadasi prevalent in our society a few centuries ago justify the same.
With the advent of the British empire in India, a phase for the reformation of the status of women emerged in the country as the West was also demanding the same. This concept came to be known as “Feminism.” It is the belief that women should be allowed the same rights, powers, and opportunities as men in our society. The followers of this concept believe that besides the basic biological differences in the genitals and reproductive organs, there is not much difference between a male and a female. As the feminist writer Simone de Behaviour puts it, “one is not born a man but becomes one, one is not born a woman but becomes one.” Society makes the differences between boys and girls through gender constructs. Right from birth, a woman is believed to be of the weaker sex.
The Supreme Court in February 2020 addressed the notion of women being the weaker sex, constitutionally flawed. It stated that the belief that the psychological differences between men and women are the basis of this discrimination and not the deep-rooted stereotyping and patriarchy which labels women “the weaker sex” is a façade to cover the hypocrisy of our society. Women should just be regarded as different, but instead of embracing these differences our culture judged them on the scale of sexism and mistook their differences for their inferiority. Even the personal laws of various religions discriminate against women.
The architects of our Constitution while framing the Constitution took all the course of actions to protect the interest of women. Their ethos was based on the concept of inclusivity and positioning women equal in every sphere. They inserted various Articles such as Article 15(3), 42, and 51(A)(e) in the Constitution to provide a favourable condition to the women for their upliftment. Apart from this, our Courts also regard sex as a sound ground for classification and not a violation of Article 14. The Parliament also passed various laws such as the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 and Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 which are solely made to improve the condition of women in India. Even after seventy years of the birth of an independent state, there is a necessity for change in attitude and perception of the citizens. We need to commit to the true values of the Constitution and upload its sanctity. In order to obtain justice, one must demand for it. Whenever women have sought justice, the judiciary has awarded them. Some of the famous cases validating the same are Md. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum and Ors., Vishakha and Ors. v. State of Rajasthan and Ors., Air India Etc. Etc. v. Nergesh Meerza & Ors. Etc. Etc., and a lot more.
But today this very shield provided to a woman to protect themselves is being used by some as a sword to destroy a man’s life. The most famous example of this is the Delhi Molestation case and the latest Gurgaon Suicide case. A very shocking fact that came from the Delhi Commission of Women report is that 53.2% of cases of rape in Delhi are found to be false. This data is only of Delhi, let alone the number of fake allegations reported across the whole of India.
Being a woman is already hard in India, they have to face a plethora of eve-teasing, molestation, prejudice, and discrimination in their lifetime. If these types of cases keep increasing day by day then one day no one will believe them and this would make the life of a woman much more miserable. Feminists should understand that this concept emerged to give equal rights to a woman, not to harass a man. Universal justice always works in a two-sided manner. It puts obligations to respect human dignity. It requires not only the empowerment of individuals through constitutional rights but also constitutional restraints on all. Just to provide justice to one, injustice can’t be done with the other. If feminism is just used to take revenge for all the unfairness faced by women from the evolution of mankind, then this will not be termed as justice.
The feminists have to accept that real equality lies in the non-materialistic things, not in the materialistic things. It lies in changing the mindset of the people, providing equal opportunity to the women, preventing violence against the women, ensuring safety on roads, improving gender ratio, and providing education to all women. It’s not in showing bra straps, carrying sanitary pads without plastic covers in public or smoking, drinking, and kissing in public. Writing “All Men are Dogs” or “All Men are Same” on social media will not at all improve the condition of women in India.
It’s our mortification that even in the 21st Century, in some areas, women are bound to be isolated in their menstruation days. They are considered to be impure in their purest days. India stood at the 112th rank in the Global Gender Gap Index, 2020. Every two in a five-woman in India has to face marital rape and domestic violence in their lifetime. Feminism has gone so far it has forgotten that this concept came to give equality and freedom to the women, not to do those things which make them uncomfortable. Some women love making food for their husbands; some women want to take care of their house and children more than focusing on a career. This doesn’t mean that they are the slaves of the patriarchy; it’s up to them to decide what they want to do. Many women don’t want to wear short dresses or shave their legs, this doesn’t count them as an orthodox.
Equality comes from moving the people positioned lower upward, not from dragging the one positioned above down. Rather than portraying how bad men are, feminists should focus on improving the position of women. The laws which are provided for the safety and upliftment of women should not be used as a tool to suppress the men in society. Society needs both men and women in equal positions. It would not function properly when any sect of it is looked down in front of the other.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Anushka Anand is a second-year B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) student at Faculty of Law, University of Allahabad, Prayagraj. Her interests lie in the field of Political Science, Constitutional and Family Law.
Utkarsh Shubham is a second-year B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) student at Faculty of Law, University of Allahabad, Prayagraj. He is a content writer at LawCorner writing on the Constitutional and Family Law matters.