The color purple and the issue of gender parity
Last year, the Supreme Court reinvented many existing biased perceptions of women and paved the way for new jurisprudential foundations to end gender inequality.
“EACH the time a woman defends herself, without possibly knowing it, without claiming it, she defends herself for all women” – Maya Angelou, American poet and civil rights activist.
International Women’s Day symbolizes not only solidarity against ostracism and discrimination against women, but also a beacon of hope for the promotion of objective goals that governments must prioritize. The reasons behind the celebration of International Women’s Day are many and do not need to be reiterated at the cost of repetition. Among the myriad of hues associated in the symbolic representation of the various causes of achieving gender parity for women, the color purple has been a dominant theme on this International Women’s Day. Dating back to 1908, when the shade was included to evoke justice and dignity in attempts to achieve gender equality, in full what it denotes are the accomplishments accomplished and those yet to be accomplished.
Along the same lines, the Constitution of India embodies constitutional morality that seeks to reconstitute society while being sensitive to the fact that old hierarchies cannot simply be abolished. The responsibility for the transition rests with the State, which truly imbibes the transformative character and pursues it by stimulating the various organs of government towards the achievement of the said objectives. A common buzzword that has often found resonance in academic debates and judicial discursive spheres is “transformative constitutionalism” in which the central role of the state is centered on achieving emancipation and the steady development of constitutional ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity. VR Justice Krishna Iyer expressed quite succinctly in one of his Supreme Court judgments that, “To properly interpret the Constitution, we must understand the people for whom it is made – the finer philosophies, the frustrations, the aspirations, the parameters set by the Constitution for the principled solution of social handicaps.”
Read also : Transformative Constitutionalism – A Post-Colonial Experience
What is apparent at first glance from such a statement is the additional role of the judiciary in interpreting the Constitution and the laws that flow from it, but it is also equally essential to balance the chasm of social morality and constitutional morality. The underlying fabric of a political democracy is made up of social democratic principles, which place the necessary fetters on the powers of government.
The Constitution of India embodies constitutional morality that seeks to reconstitute society while being sensitive to the fact that old hierarchies cannot simply be abolished.
The dichotomies between proactive and reactive state-led functions are perhaps what propels the social fabric toward monumental positive changes. Therefore, often Indian courts, when it comes to injecting militant sentiments into existing gender-based discriminatory provisions, find themselves as an intuitive interpreter of social, cultural and political mores, reflecting these prevalent attitudes and ethics. while balancing them with constitutionality. morality.
It is in line with these visionary sentiments that it is fitting to highlight the sentinel of justice in our country vis-a-vis the Supreme Court of India, which over the years has remained steadfast in its attempt to sensitize the general public, and also members of the lower legislature and judiciary, of the issue of sex discrimination so embedded in the systemic fabric of the Indian governmental framework.
Needless to say, the year 2021 reinvented many existing biased perceptions against women and paved the way for new jurisprudential foundations for ending gender inequality. In Rekha Sengar v State of Madhya Pradesh (2021), the Supreme Court observed that prenatal sex determination is a serious offense with serious consequences for society as a whole. The bench of Justices M. M. Shantanagoudar, Vineet Saran and Ajay Rastogi held that the provisions of the Antenatal and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Abuse) Act 1994 were constrained by a cultural history of preference for the child of male sex in India, rooted in a patriarchal fabric of religious, economic and social factors. Referring to various reports regarding criminal cases filed under the law, the bench said such pernicious practices are still rampant. They highlighted how the immoral practice constituted violence against women, undermining the very fabric of gender equality and dignity as enshrined in the Constitution, with grave consequences for society as a whole.
In Aparna Bhat & Ors. v State of Madhya Pradesh & Anr. (2021)where the Supreme Court visibly expressed its exasperation with the ‘rakhi against bail’ order issued by the High Court of Madhya Pradesh, identified the misnomer by identifying the very brevity of the matter at issue by the High Court, the judging “as totally unacceptable, and ha[ving] the effect of diluting and eroding the offense of sexual harassment. The act committed on the survivor constitutes an infraction of the law, and is not a minor transgression that can be corrected by an apology, community service, the attachment of a rakhi or the presentation of a gift to the survivor, or even the promise to marry her, as the case may be. The law criminalizes indecent exposure of a woman.
The progressive temperament towards the socio-economic betterment of women is also apparent from the Chief Justice of India, N .V. Ramana’s affirmation of 50% representation of women in the judiciary in parallel with Articles 14 and 15(3) of the Constitution of India which concretizes the representation of women in the judiciary, thus transforming the depiction of mere symbolic ornamentation into substantial participation in the entire dispensational justice system. However, a caveat to this is twofold: First, the appointment of judges in the lower court system should be expedited, and Secondly, While the appointment of women is important, an understanding of systemic discrimination against women in the legal sector is relevant to addressing the discrimination faced by women in the sector.
Perhaps it also highlights the lack of female mentorship not only in the legal field, but also in all other fields, where not only is the representation of women in leadership roles scarce, but the mentorship of new entrants in the field by faithful women is seldom found.
Read also : The pursuit of practical equality for women
Perhaps it also highlights the lack of female mentorship not only in the legal field, but also in all other fields, where not only is the representation of women in leadership roles scarce, but the mentorship of new entrants in the field by faithful women is seldom found. The proverbial glass ceiling can sometimes be shattered, but it rebuilds itself for other entrants who find themselves swaddled in the dark. From professionally unchallenged assignment of tasks, to forced complacency with lower professional fees than their male counterparts, denial of benefits and promotions in corporate positions, and the still pervasive lack of mentoring in the fields where discrimination is deeply institutionalized, the reasons are varied and innumerable.
In conclusion, we remain perplexed in this maze of institutionalized discrimination; not only the vertical mobility, but the lateral and diagonal mobility of women subjected to unequal treatment all over the world. So this Women’s History Month, as we pledge to break down prejudice, may charity begin at home: in perceptions, through informed socializations and sensitivity to the women around us.
(The opinions expressed are personal.)