When we quote gender discrimination, basically two genders strike in our minds, i.e. males and females. We do not even acknowledge the third gender, i.e. Transgender. We will talk about LGBT rights and sympathize with how society treats them but fails to accommodate them in our societies and systems. We only have space for males and females in legal forms. This is the harsh reality of Gender Discrimination.
When we talk about gender discrimination in India, the differences are seen through childhood games. For example in chess queen has more power but the game ends only when the king is dead. Girls are given Barbie dolls, Kitchen set, or makeup kit to play with and boys are given guns, bats, and cars. Later when they grow-up, stereotyped comments are made that girls cannot drive or not capable to join armies or play cricket.
When it comes to the beauty industry there might be products to enhance the beauty of men but very less as compared to women.
There are reserved seats for women on buses and trains but when comes to give the right reservation in posts like the administrative level we lack. We don’t provide enough reservations for women in parliament. The biggest example is that there was only one female prime minister took place i.e. Indira Gandhi. Does it show the incapability of women or the reflection of male-dominated society?
Evident fields of discrimination
There are topmost fields in the government sector where no women had reached. They are Chief of the Indian Army, Chairman of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Directors of the premier educational trio of institutions, Chairman of Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), CBI, IB and RAW, Cabinet secretary, Ministers of home, Chief ministers and Labour minister.
So why such discrimination? People will argue and say girls are allowed to study and positions are open for all. But let’s take a minute here and think is grabbing opportunities and coming in power as simple as men? Well nobody needs to answer, because the answer lies in the society itself. On paper, everything is being glorified but actually in the fields’ dirt remains the same. Women are educated to be receptionists, make-up artists, models, or interior decorators. Not to become a leader.
Discrimination against Women
Poorly enforced laws
Bans on child marriage, prenatal sex selection tests, and dowries are poorly enforced, while laws excluding daughters and widows from inheriting land still exist, a study by the U.N. World Population Fund (UNFPA) found. Twelve million Indian girls have been aborted in the last three decades, a 2011 study in the British medical journal Lancet found.
Sexual relations and child marriage
Sexual intercourse with a girl below the age of 18 is considered rape. But since child marriages are not illegal, a man can legally have sex with his wife even if she is a minor, as long as she is above the age of 15. Further, marital rape is still not criminalized in India. The consequence of this is 42% of married women in India were married as children (District Information System for Education (DISE) 3)
For a marriage to happen girl and guy should both be of marriageable age and this age varies in the eyes of law i.e. 18 years and 21 years respectively. How is this fair? When a marriage is taking place, in the majority of Indian household women are supposed to stay at the husband’s place, adjusting and making relationship ties with the husband’s family. The burden of Maintaining relationship bonds fall on women’s part.
It is not defined by law but she’s expected to change her name and adopt the husband’s surname. She’s compared with wealth (ghar ki lakshmi) and is supposed to give a baby boy to the house to carry the lineage of the family (ghar ka chirag). No matter how progressive a mindset we adopt, we still have to play traditional man-woman roles. I.e. of Earning income and cooking food for the family and nurturing children respectively. The basic gender discrimination of Indian society.
Property Inheritance rights
When women die and there’s no spouse or children the property is transferred to heirs of the husband’s family as the constitution considers her a part of the husband’s family.
Despite decreasing numbers in the Parsi community, those who marry outside the community are penalized. A non-Parsi woman who is either a wife or a widow of a Parsi man cannot inherit. However, their children can. But again, a Parsi woman marrying a non-Parsi man cannot be considered a part of the Parsi community.
Pregnancy seems only to be a women’s issue and not a couple’s responsibility. Women are entitled to benefits, perks, and leave and it’s called maternity leave. What about paternity leave? Three years ago, in 2017, after the Maternity Benefit Amendment Act happened, there was a new bill proposed, known as The Paternity Benefit Bill. Rajeev Satav, an MP from Maharashtra, stood up for the benefits of fathers of newborn babies. But it’s still a bill and law has not yet formed. (Provisions is given to male employees though to a certain extent)
A woman’s body gets changed after pregnancy, growth in career gets hampered and life changes drastically. But if she doesn’t want to carry a baby and focus on her growth it is not seen as a welcoming event. There is, for example, the Goa polygamy law which actually permits a second marriage for the husband when there is no son from the first marriage.
When a child is born, he/she drinks mother’s milk, grows in her womb, and taken care of by the mother but is still identified by the father’s name in the society. Father is considered as a natural guardian of a child and the mother is guardian only in the absence of a father.
Right to prohibit Child Marriage
The law only prohibits the marriages of children; it does not render them illegal once they actually happen. The married children, however, have the right to declare it void. A woman can call off marriage until she turns 20, whereas a man has till age 23. 
Hindu son can divorce his wife if she tries to separate him from aged parents. With this logic, women can get divorced anytime. Women are supposed to leave her house and stay with the husband’s family but vice versa is not possible?
Upon separation or divorce, an Indian woman is entitled only to maintenance from her husband. She has no right to the assets, such as a house or commercial property, bought in her husband’s name during the marriage. 
Rape related laws
The rape of a separated wife carries lesser punishment than the rape of any other woman. Forced sexual intercourse with the former is punishable with two to seven years of imprisonment. The prison sentence for the rape of any other woman ranges from seven years to life. 
As Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code stands, rape is something that only a man can do to a woman. There are no room for adult male victims, much fewer female perpetrators. In India, rape is the insertion of a penis, or any foreign object, into a vagina without the consent of the woman or girl.
However, if the woman is married to the man, the act is not considered rape, whether or not he has her consent. The only exceptions to this are if the wife is either under 16 years of age, or the couple is separated.
Pledge of India in Hindi or any language where sex is important
भारत मेरा देश है | हम सब भारतवासी भाई बहन हैं |
मुझे अपना देश प्राणों से भी प्यारा है |
इसकी समृद्धि और विविध संस्कृति पर मुझे गर्व है |
हम इसके सुयोग्य अधिकारी बनने का सदा प्रयत्न करते रहेंगे |
मैं अपने माता-पिता, शिक्षकों एवं गुरुजनों का सदा आदर करुँगा और सबके साथ शिष्टता का व्यवहार करुँगा |
मैं अपने देश और देशवासियों के प्रति वफादार रहने की प्रतिज्ञा करता हूँ |
उनके कल्याण और समृद्धि में .
Are Women not capable to take a pledge for its own country? Here there’s the only reference of men’s section of society is given. The usage of language for females is different and nobody acknowledges that. How fair is this?
Women’s sanitary napkins are taxable whereas condoms are not. Isn’t this is the reflection of patriarchy society?
Discrimination against Men
Under the Hindu Succession Act of 1956, if the deceased has no will, the spouse, mother and children inherit the property belonging to the deceased. The father is only entitled if the deceased does not have a spouse, mother, or children. The right of the father is after the mother.
A boy is entitled to maintenance only till he turns 18, whereas a girl is entitled to maintenance till she gets married. Under the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act of 1956, it is the parents’ responsibility to a girl child’s maintenance until she decides to provide for herself or gets married.
According to Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, if the husband commits adultery with the wife of another man, he can be prosecuted for the same. But if a woman commits adultery with the husband of another woman, she cannot be prosecuted.
Breaking Marriage Promise
The fourth point of Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code states that if a man has sex with a woman after promising marriage, he can’t break up with the woman. If he does, according to the laws in India, he’s a rapist.
According to the sixth situation listed in Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, if a 16-year-old guy and girl have sex, she’s been raped. Even if both are 16 years old how it concludes to a rape?
If a woman is treated with physical or mental cruelty by her husband and his family, she can throw them behind bars. Section 498 A of the Indian Penal Code says that the woman doesn’t need to give any evidence whatsoever. It’s about registration of false cases
According to Section 354 A of the Indian Penal Code, a man can serve up to 3 years of imprisonment for sexually harassing a woman, but there is no such law made for women.
Under the Hindu Marriage Act, both the man and woman can claim permanent alimony and maintenance, but under Section 37 of the Special Marriage Act of 1954, it isn’t so. Why so unfair, Indian constitution?
Death of Woman
If the death of the woman is caused by burns or bodily injury within 7 years of marriage, it’s the husband’s fault. This has been stated in Section 304 B of the Indian Penal Code.
In 1983, domestic violence was recognized as a specific criminal offense by the introduction of section 498-A into the Indian Penal Code. This section deals with cruelty by a husband or his family towards a married woman. Four types of cruelty are dealt with by this law:
- conduct that is likely to drive a woman to suicide,
- conduct which is likely to cause grave injury to the life, limb or health of the woman,
- harassment with the purpose of forcing the woman or her relatives to give some property, or
- Harassment because the woman or her relatives is unable to yield to demands for more money or does not give some property.
The punishment is imprisonment for up to three years and a fine. The complaint against cruelty need not be lodged by the person herself. Any relative may also make the complaint on her behalf.
Why this favors women even women can harass men? Isn’t this injustice to other sections of society?
In India, they say that law is mostly biased towards females, but the law is not neutral to any gender. And this should be acceptable to have different laws for different gender. However, the advantage of the one should not become the disadvantage of the other. If the term goes like Sexes discrimination instead of gender discrimination it would be much better since the difference in law was only due to biological factors and social ones.
Miti Gandhi | Blogger, Mumbai