Is Indian Legal system biased towards women?

Laws are the backbone of every society but what happens when the law-framers create laws that are biased, whether based on gender, religion, caste, etc. The answer is in fact, simple! It creates an unjust society!!

The weird thing, of course, is how these law-framers assign weird reasons, such as to give special consideration to the group that had been oppressed for centuries. Does this mean that we have to suffer the consequences of what our forefathers did. You cannot kill unfairness with more unfairness! Period!!

If you look at the Indian legal system, you will find many flaws in our system especially with regards to gender-biased laws, which are conspicuously (and sometimes unjustly) in favour of women. These are done in the name of ensuring equality, but these laws are oxymoronic for it is unfairly unfair to men. This is, of course, not to say that we do not need laws to protect and empower women but we need a system that shows some semblance of equality with regards to men and women, especially if we wish to transform this country into an egalitarian society.

Indian Legal System

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The presumption that the legal system automatically assumes that women are always honest albeit weaker is not only mocking psychology that states that no two individuals (and by that same logic – “women”) are ever the same, but it is increasing the divide between gender differences in the society, which needs to push beyond gender stereotyping and treat men and women at par.

Let us now take a look at some of these laws:

1. Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code that deals with “Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty.” This is one of the most misused section by married women of India as reiterated by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India itself. For the majority of women who file for divorce, also file a criminal case against their husbands and his family members to pressurize the in-laws to succumb to whatever demands the woman makes, whether legitimate or illegitimate. Men, on the other hand, do not have any such relief if they were on the receiving end of such cruelty at the hands of the wife. Isn’t it strange how the law automatically presumes that wives cannot torture their husbands or his family members. What’s scary is that even a written statement given by the wife is good enough to send the husband and his family members to rot away in jail, even when they are innocent. Besides getting bail is also not that easy; not to mention that even if they manage to get the bail, the entire family has to go through the entire legal proceeding, which sadly take many years before being settled…not to even mention the shame and humiliation faced by the husband and his family members. It is therefore not surprising to see how many succumb to the woman’s pressure and give hefty compensation to the wife, simply for settling the case (this is even more scary when the woman is out to settle some scores). Its, in fact, “Legal Terrorism” as pointed out by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in one of its judgments.

2. Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code which reads: “Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 5 years, or with fine, or with both. In such case, the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor.” What is outrageous in this section is that women can’t even be penalized for being unfaithful but the man who may not even know that the woman is married or does so with the conscious consent of the woman, is still liable to be penalized. So basically, what the law books say is that “adultery” can only be committed by a man and not by woman. Maybe the lawmakers forgot that it takes “two to tango”! [Note: Another funny thing in the legal provision is that even if a woman sleeps with a man whom she knows to be married, she will still escape punishment but the husband of the other woman can still be penalized.]

3. The entire Domestic Violence Act, 2005 also discriminates against men because it only protects women against domestic violence assuming once again that a woman cannot inflict violence on a man. There have been many instances when the husbands have gone through domestic violence at home, but they have no legal refuge for there are no laws to safeguard his rights…whatever happened to the constitutionally protected right to equality!
4.Rape Laws too are gender biased for it too presumes that only a man can rape a woman but not the other way round, despite enough instances on the contrary. Another glaring omission is that women cannot even be booked for paedophilia.

Of course, then there are laws that are completely biased in favour of women…such as molestation. Even if you so much as look at a girl for a considerable amount of time — this time by the way is not defined or specified in law — it may be considered molestation. Hence, the next time you feel like looking at a girl, look away!

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