Gender Discrimination and violence against women are global phenomena as old as mankind. Women’s rights are entitlement to live a dignified life without discrimination and these rights are inherent in nature and guaranteed by law. The first decision in which gender discrimination was held to be violative of Article 14 by Supreme Court of India was Air India v. Nargesh Meerza [(1981) 4 SCC 335] whereby termination of service on pregnancy was held to be arbitrary and violative of right to equality. The trends in gender discrimination and increasing awareness on women’s rights along with legislative as well as changing judicial approach on the issue has been witnessed over the years by the country. The Delhi Gang Rape Case that took place in December 2012 followed by huge public outcry is the latest example of growing gender sensitivity in the country. However, incidents like Bijal Rape Case (1997) 2 GLR 1147 wherein the victim committed suicide due to post-rape trauma suffered by her at the hands of the authorities also reflect the growing need to bring important changes in the justice delivery system. The case that took place recently in Gandhinagar,Delhi wherein a five year old was raped by her neighbour reflects the kind of insensitivity that continues to prevail in our society. There is a growing need to analyse the wide gap between what we profess and what we practice. Ironical as it may sound, we worship Goddess Durga as our protector on one hand, and fail to protect the she-gender at the same time.
Several laws have been passed by the Parliament for protection and empowerment of women such as Dowry Prohibition and Domestic Violence Act that have strengthened women’s position over the years. Cases like Vishakha v. State of Rajasthan (AIR 1997 SC 3011) that laid down guidelines for prevention of sexual harassment at workplace highlight effective judicial approach towards the cause but a lot needs to be done on the implementation front. There is a growing need to look into the causes of failure of previous measures and to analyse other effective policy measures that can be implemented for positive results in the area of gender sensitisation as well as women empowerment. It should also be tried to evaluate how the educated lot especially the he-gender can contribute towards the protection and growth of women. As we all understand, Government or the police alone cannot be entirely successful in dealing with the situation. If we want our women to be safe, the action starts from home. If each one of us makes sure that considering women as the “weaker sex” is discontinued in our families, a huge difference can be made. Teaching our kids to respect women, not only the ones related to them but also the ones not related at all. Want to change the world? Realise that you are a part of this world. Let the change start from yourself. It was rightly said by President Barack Obama, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change we seek.”
About the Author
Garima is pursuing integrated law program from Amity Law School, New Delhi.