As a developing country, India has the highest level of sex discrimination or gender discrimination. India is a conservative society, gender discrimination in India exists from the ancient period. According to 2017 analysis of demographic data, India has the worst sex ratio i.e., 924 females and 1,000 males, India has 48.4% female as compared to 51.96% male population.
In India, gender discrimination starts in the womb of the mother. 240,000 girls get killed every year in India on the basis of gender discrimination which leads to heinous crime like foetus death of girl child. To be born as a woman, is a curse in Indian society. Gender discrimination means unjust treatment or mistreating a person on the ground of sex, it also includes transgender and homosexuals not only women.
Even, they are face discrimination in Indian society. In India, a man considers as pure and women, transgender, homosexuals are considered as impure. Transgender and homosexuals are not acceptable in society. Gay, lesbians and transgender were treated as sick people, a psychological disease, they do not have any opportunity for education, jobs and business. Society sees them as vulgar eyes and they are harsh towards them. At the household level females are limited to their household chores, raising children and looking take care of her families.
In 1975, the Indian women’s movement began against gender violence into nation disclosure. Even Mahatama Gandhi also urged “women to stop fighting for voting rights and concentrate their effort instead of helping their man against a common foe.” After the independence of India, the Indian leaders discourage female revolutionaries from mobilizing and divide strict gender role for women as the caretaker and protectors of their home.
Child marriage, Sati Pratha and many more heinous crimes are born out from gender discrimination. Transgender and homosexuals are thrown out from society because of their sexuality. According to the National Human Rights Commission, about 92% of transgender get rejection in economic activity even qualified ones refused jobs. 99% have suffered from social rejection in society and their family.
CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES OF GENDER DISCRIMINATION IN INDIA
Illiteracy plays an important role in gender discrimination. Poverty is the root cause of gender discrimination. In low socio-economic society, male members are independent and sole earner of the family. 30% of people of the total population are below the poverty line and 70% are women out of these people. Illiteracy is one of the prime cause of gender discrimination especially women are illiterate in rural areas.
Those parents who are illiterate and belongs from the low socio-economic background are not in favour of getting their daughters educated because they believed that education of girls is waste of resources whereas boy’s education is fruitful outcomes in the form of money that he earns money in future. Rigid culture and traditions are also cause of gender discrimination in India. Indian society had a strong belief on culture and tradition that followed from the ancient period that is a woman can only suppose to do a household chore, get married at an early age and have children. India has men dominating society because of patriarchal setup.
The consequences of gender discrimination are largely responsible for poverty and backwardness in India. In the current scenario of the world, economic progress can only be achieved when men and women work together side by side. Discrimination is a direct denial from the society that can affect the health of the discriminated person mentally. Because of privilege society, it leads to heinous and dangerous crimes like child marriage, marital rape, domestic violence, acid attacks etc. In India, 42% of married women were married as children. 1 in 3 child brides is a girl in India.
GENDER DISCRIMINATION AT WORKPLACE
Rise in the joining of the workforce by women in India, gender partiality still continues to suffer especially in a senior position. As 16% of organisation have no women on the board level. Some of the major challenges that become obstacles in the progress of diversity and it include initiatives, unconscious bias, ineffective implementation of policies, fewer opportunities for women in leadership roles, lack of awareness regarding benefits of gender diversity.
Approximately 42% of females face managerial bias. This bias is present at the senior levels and it affects the growth of the women in the workplace. 33% of females are believed that there are different performance standards and expectation for male and female employees working at the same level. Many women are facing or become victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. Vishaka and others v. State of Rajasthan, it is a landmark case of sexual harassment of women at her workplace. In this case, the court held that women have the fundamental right towards the freedom of sexual harassment at workplace and also issue guidelines for the employees to follow them and avoid sexual harassment of women at workplace.
The main objective of the Supreme Court to ensures gender equality among employees at the workplace. In many of the cases, homosexuals labours harass an employee belonging to the same sex because of sexual harassment, the attention towards work may be diminished. A hostile work environment can damage the morale of those who directly affected and it may cause high employee turnover. In the current scenario of the pandemic, women have lost more jobs than men and they are emotionally suffering than men.
LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS OF GENDER DISCRIMINATION IN INDIA
Law is the most important instrument in the fight against discrimination. Law reflects the fundamental values of the society and individual, conveys a direction of what is acceptable or unacceptable in society. Only one thing can reduce gender discrimination i.e., Equality.
The Constitution of India grants equality to women but also empowers them benefits of positive discrimination for education, socio-economic and political disadvantages faced by them.
ARTICLE 14 –
It states that “the state shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.” In article 14, the word ‘any person’ includes all persons whether it is a citizen and non-citizens of India. it means this right is available to all persons within the territory of India. Article 14 uses two expressions or words i.e., Equality before the law and Equal protection of the laws. These two terms have aim or objective to establish “equality of status.” Equality before the law means the absence of privilege in favour of individuals and the equal subject of all classes to the ordinary law. Equal protection of the law means equal treatment in equal circumstances.
ARTICLE 15 –
It provides “no discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste etc. The word discrimination in article 15 means to make an adverse distinction or to distinguish unfavourable from others. If any law makes discrimination on any of the above-ground then it will declare void. Article 15(3) ensures a special provision for women and children. The state can make special laws for women and children in any circumstances. Under this clause, the state can set up an educational institution exclusively for women to grant them maternity relief and bring forward other progressive policies for them.
ARTICLE 16 –
It guarantees equal opportunity for public employment for all citizens. They cannot discriminate citizens on grounds of religion, race, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them in respect of employment under the state.
ARTICLE 39(a) –
It provides an equal right of men and women to adequate means of livelihood.
ARTICLE 39(d) –
Equal pay for equal work for both men and women for the same work. This doctrine of equal pay for equal work is equally applicable to persons employed on a daily wage basis. They are also entitled to the same wages as other member permanent employees do identical work.
- MATERNITY BENEFIT ACT, 1961 – When a woman absent formwork according to the provision of this act it will be unlawful if her employer discharge or dismiss her for the absence of her service during her pregnancy.
- EQUAL REMUNERATION ACT, 1976 – Section 5 of this act ensures the duty of an employer to pay equal remuneration to men and women workers for the same work. This act came out form Article 39(d) of the Indian Constitution.
- IMMORAL TRAFFIC PREVENTION ACT, 1956 – This act was amended in 1986 and becomes a gender-neutral act. This act applies on both male and female sex workers along with those whose gender was indeterminate by birth.
- THE TRANSGENDER PERSON BILL, 2019 – It was passed in parliament on November 26th, 2019. This act prohibits discrimination against trans person those whose gender does not indeterminate by birth in education, employment, housing and other services.
- DOWRY PROHIBITION ACT, 1961 – The dowry prohibition acct intended to prevent the giving or receiving of a dowry at the time of marriage which includes property, goods or money.
- CRIMES UNDER INDIAN PENAL CODE, 1860 – In Indian Penal Code, there are many crimes defined regarding women. These crimes are as follows – Rape, Kidnapping and Abduction for different purposes, Homicide for Dowry, Dowry deaths or attempts, Torture both mental and physical, Molestation, Sexual Harassment, Importation of Girls etc.
There are so many provisions and laws for gender discrimination and there are a lot of government schemes and initiatives for women and transgender like “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” Abhiyan etc.
Legal provisions, law and education cannot be easily reduced or stop discrimination. As we know, India has a more conservative society, whether it is a developing country. These methods are not effective in Indian society. After gaining education, skills or moral values still, discrimination exists, the main reason is lack of moral values and the culture established in ancient times. Gender discrimination is a very heinous and dangerous activity which leads to crime like untouchability to transgender, foetus death of girl child etc. To change the mindset of people, it is important to establish or spread awareness among people about the concept of equality. Still, girls do not have permission to do the job at night and many jobs like a business.
We have to reform laws like section 377 of Indian Penal code, 1860 that unnatural lust is not an offence. Literacy can reduce gender discrimination in any country. Gender discrimination can reduce or abolish by spiritual power. Indian society takes more time to change his mindset. In the current scenario, we all ignored transgender at public places. We are making fun of the homosexuals and marginalised them from society. India is not only one country where gender discrimination prevails. There are a lot of countries where gender discrimination exists whether it is a developed country.
Steps that can be taken:
To reduce gap among men, women, transgender and homosexuality, we have to take a step towards literacy and humanity because everyone has right to a dignified life and personal liberty and freedom of his speech and expression. Discrimination can be abolished by all of us, if any such discrimination commits near you, a complaint to any organisation and other places. Rural has the highest level of discrimination because they believed that men are earner of the family, and they are the dynasty of the family and caretaker of his parents. To literate, a parent is the most important part to fight against gender discrimination.
Nishu Singh | Campus Ambassador
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