Citation: 87 Women Law. J. 19 2001-2002

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the Constitution. Women are forced to exchange can indulge in crimes with impunity? Are their unpaid domestic services for their the women helpless to fight the atrocities room and board. men. number of such laws have actually been WOMEN LAWYERS JOURNAL . torture. -U In India. Women have the same tem is prohibitively long and extremely rights as men to be treated as people. are there so many loop- contract through which the husband con. vio. and the practice of Sati. making their injustices done to them for ages. The trauma that a woman not statistics. because there are no laws to provide marriage becomes essentially a labor quick relief? Or. super- evils such as child marriages. or that the protection provided ually and culturally. reap the benefits provided for them These atrocities are a part of our past under their Constitution? There is still a and have not ceasd to be committed long way to go to achieve the goals even today. A large subsequent failure more difficult to bear. undergoes in fighting for her legal rights The constitution has authorized the is highly demoralizing. There seems to be no end to enshrined in the Constitution. The sys- be changed. holes in these laws that the culprits can trols his wife. the blamed? Perhaps it is the weakness of domination of women economically. Patriarchal social order is manage to remain unscathed? also responsible for discrimination and One cause of this discrepancy is violence against women. In this perspective. patriarchal structure of society or the low lem is that these laws are neither imple. the bulk of this dignity of women. social status of women that is to be mented nor enforced. including that Indian laws are biased in favor of domestic violence. Not only are the laws biased. in spite of special constitu. crimes against women They create an illusion that women enjoy are rampant and on the increase. The creation of legislatures to pass special protective the protective laws raised initial hopes of laws in favor of women to undo the quick justice for women. poverty. The a privileged position in our society and Constitution imposes a fundamental duty have special rights at the cost of men. How many of us are protective legislation is a modest attempt aware of this Fundamental Duty? Not to combat the deep-rooted and all perva- many. The attitude of the society is totally harassment and dowry death. passed. Patriarchy. expensive. The prob.Women & Law in India By Versha Sharma 0. our laws. sex. I suppose. man's brutality towards woman in spite In tune with various provisions of of the protective laws. But the question is: sive evil of horrendous crimes that are Have the women of India been able to committed against women every day. to protect women. but their language is easily tional and legislative guarantees in place manipulated and can be misguiding. dowry stitions or die-hard traditions? Or is it the rape. beating. FALL 2002 * 19 . protective laws? Is it the people of India lence and atrocities and to prevent social and our religious beliefs. In reality. is the standard in the by the laws is so flimsy that any person home. on every citizen through Article 51A(e) to The illusion falls quickly when one con- renounce the practices derogatory to the fronts the facts. the State has enacted Who is responsible for the lapse many pieces of legislation to protect between the illusion and reality of these women against social discrimination. The social pro-male. order based on putative qualities of but the judicial system makes it impossi- "maleness" and "femaleness" needs to ble for women to seek justice.

1993 (2) SCC 684. Pradesh. obedient ished. been given a sub- public.WOMEN LAWYERS JOURNAL . the gap between the position of men ted within the four walls of her house. to have been cut even at that stage! 20 . Most of the women in our coun.. In order to usher in no other option but to commit suicide. as compared to the tor or even an active participant in the male literacy rate of 63. are unfamiliar with the growing cult of violence and exploitation laws and how to use them to protect of the young brides. Crimes against women are commit. continues who commit crimes against them. deaths of young innocent brides. Equal women but still has not been declared emphasis must be laid on the total an independent crime. FALL 2002 .11 per cent. I wrote: women in India from de jure to de facto. not against the husbands unless this crime is merely cosmetic charges. Lack of unabated. husband or son. religion or socio-eco. in utter disregard of his matrimo- These figures indicate that 60 per cent of nial obligations. It is outside the house in lonely places and at unfortunately true that a woman has. class. crime. els. For this to happen. of women and the work they do at home nomic strata. dutiful daughter. torture. public places right in the glare of the even in her own home. and traditional oppression and the spirit of "live and let live. gender equity. Major surgery is required. Another factor necessary for the Wife beating is another extreme act of emancipation of women is for them to cruelty that is highly demoralizing for gain economic independence. leaving the husband free to marry again. loving mother. Most of the time they do not sending shock waves to the civilized register a case against those persons society whenever it happens. responsibilities. Though violence stalks women have encouraged the greedy per- women everywhere. In many cases. Quite often husbands created has made her dependent on father. with the 52. education and economic dependence of advantage. The only role she is not The culprits planned the brutal murders allowed to play is as a human being on meticulously in the privacy of their par with her male partner. As regards the educa. continues to be "Mary's So long as there is a great disparity baby" and the umbilical cord appears not between male and female education lev. but now this crime knows no barri. i. especially in com. recognizing the vital role ers of caste. Until the late seventies dowry ordinate role to play. the basic human values of tolerance and poverty. all this must change. ing and sad that in most of such ceptions change. still remain illiterate. it is been found to beat their wives yet the necessary for a new social system to police are reluctant to register cases evolve. six out of been noticed that the husband. a case of In order to convert the equality of bride burning. In Kundula compounded with demands of dowry or is Bala Subrahmanyan v. and women will continue to exist. as in this case. after marriage. It is more disturb- unless present cultural and social per. State of Andhra in some way connected with property. sive wife. by increasing once viewed as a crime of the lower women's awareness of their rights and class. it has our female population. She is expected to deaths were camouflaged as accidental cater to the comforts of the family as a deaths and the culprits could not be pun. The society homes. females. according to the census a pivotal role in this crime against the of 1991. and teaching skills to build economic judges. though it keeps on themselves. even every ten females. reported cases it is the women who play tion of women. Of late there has been an alarming it is essential to promote education of increase in cases relating to harassment. moth- conditions where the bride was left with er.86 per cent. The female literacy rate husband either acting as a mute specta- was 39. Wife beating was development of women. the general literacy rate was younger women. This parison to males.e. executives and lawyers have independence. There is a constant erosion of awareness and political participation. Professionals like doctors.42 per cent. abetted suicides and dowry try are illiterate and. the law can do little petrators of the crime." Lack of customs place an Indian women at a dis. It was very difficult to get legally daughter-in-law and faithful and submis- accepted proofs of this heinous crime.