Indian Laws that are not so Gender Neutral!

Indian Laws that are not so Gender Neutral!

Since the independence, Indian women have constantly been demanding gender equality. However their demands seem to be more in their favour than actually being gender neutral. There is quite a list of such laws and legislation in India that should now be made gender neutral. Let’s have a look at a few instances:

• Sexual Harassment at Workplace – well spare me for taking some Bollywood examples but there is no harm if it explains my point! The movie Aitraaz is one such example where Priyanka Chopra who played Akshay Kumar’s boss in the movie, literally made his life a living hell by taking advantage of her position and abusing him at his workplace. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 assumes that only women can be harassed. It applies to the protection of women only. So this implies that a male boss may find himself in deep trouble if a certain women employee is pissed at him for whatever reason and plans on to take some advantage of this legal provision.

• Property Co-Ownership – the great Indian battle of ‘Jaidad’! The wife will have equal rights in the property owned by husband whereas husband will have no right of wife’s property. (2 minutes of silence for all the guys who are married and believed Jo tera hai woh mera hai.) As per 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. BAHUT NAINSAAFI HAI!

• Adultery – According to Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, if a man commits adultery with a married woman, than the guy can be prosecuted for the same and put behind the bars. However the married woman who was involved in the same act even though with full consent, cannot be tried for adultery. Way to go, logic!

• Maintenance after divorce – A woman is entitled to maintenance after divorce from her husband. But why isn’t a husband entitled for the same from her wife. Well in this case at least the situation is changing and there have been instances where certain Courts have refused maintenance to women who have sufficient income.

• Section 304B of Indian Penal Code – if a woman dies by burns or bodily injury, or in circumstances other than normal within 7 years of her marriage, the husband will be deemed to have caused the death and has the burden to prove his innocence. Woah! What if the same happens with a guy?

• One of the most debated provisions under IPC is its Section 498A as per which a woman subjected to physical or mental cruelty by her husband and his family, can take a legal action them. Wondering what is wrong about it? Well, the fact that whether we like it or not certain women take advantage of the fact and husband and his family fail to prove their innocence and end up behind the bars.

• Rape is an extremely heinous crime and it’s just not acceptable to be joking about the same. However the Indian law in its ambiguity failed to consider the situation where if a guy under the age of 16 has consensual sex with a girl of his age, he’s a rapist. In other words, even though the girl had full consent and was in completely sane mind at the time of the intercourse, then also the guy can be charged for the offence of rape but not the girl.

• As per the Indian Penal Code, if a man has sexual intercourse with a woman on the pretext of marring her later but doesn’t marry her, it amounts to rape. So guys better take the responsibility because no matter what the reason of your break up was, if she decides to be revengeful, you may soon be visiting jail.

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Shivani Vivek Singh
A law graduate with a working experience in both the private and government sector.

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