RIGHTS OF WOMEN IN INDIA

RIGHTS OF WOMEN IN INDIA

(Vinod Anand)

 

In India, there are many issues of gender-gap. Women are treated as different from me, despite the fact that they perform a number of roles in their lives. First they are daughters, then get married, then become mothers, and then mother-in-laws. They also perform many duties in the household. And despite all this they are highly discriminated in the society.

 

The basic idea of Human Rights emerged from the concept of natural rights. Right to life, liberty, security and resistance to oppression are based on natural rights (Thomas Paine). Nature has made all human beings free and natural rights are as much a part of human nature as the colour of their skin. But the discrimination between men and women has deprived women of most of the human rights that are available to men.

 

Like race and class, gender, as a basis of social discrimination, is not a biological fact but a social construction. And very much like race and class, one’s gender is an index of one’s experiences in life. In other words, gender is a socio-cultural definition of men and women. All gender roles are assigned by the society. In fact, gender determines rights/access to and control over resources, dresses, responsibilities, attitudes, role performances and so on. There are multiple forms of subordination of women in different classes, regions and societies. This subordination cuts across cultural bonds, class relations, natural boundaries and class loyalties. Under such conditions it is necessary to explore and analyze how far the human rights are enjoyed by women particularly in India.

 

Article 1 of Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR), 1948 provides right to equality stating that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and so they must enjoy equality for ‘they are endowed with reason and conscience.”

 

Indian Constitution in Article 14 of 18 grants the same category of rights to Indian citizens. But in practice we come across inequality towards women in day to day life whether it is within the family or educational Institutions, work place or politics.

 

Article 2 of UDHR — freedom from discrimination corresponds to Article 16 of the Indian Constitution. However, discrimination between women and men, boys and girls is deeply ingrained in the Indian society. Women’s psyche has accepted it as natural. Though it is a fact that women are no less capable than men in any respect and It Is also scientifically proven that except for the period of pregnancy and lactation women can be strong as men, if given proper opportunity and space.

 

Right to life, liberty and personal security in Article 3 of UDHR has inspired Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. It is like a distant dream for majority of women in India. The female feticide, infanticide, incest, demand for dowry causing dowry deaths which is rampant reveals the whole truth about women’s right in India.

If we talk about personal liberty it is only theory that we find it. The patriarchal socialization process controls the very existence of women in several ways — it defines women, defines the family, and the world outside it for women. It provides women’s definition of others and their relationship with them. Hence association with man is the determinant of woman’s participation and her identity, while her position is determined by the relationship to men.

 

The pre-disposition to regard domestic violence as a matter confined either to personnel or private social sphere needs special mention. Within family wife is treated as the property of her husband and often ill treated by her in-laws. Article 5 of UDHR grants freedom from torture, degrading treatments, etc. It states that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. But it is so very common in Indian society. Domestic violence and abuse particularly marital rape are inconsistent to the international consensus on human rights. It is this aspect that which deserves study in depth.

 

There are Articles in Indian Constitution that correspond to Article 16— Right to marriage and family. Article 22—right to social security. Article 23 — Right to desirable work. Article 24 — Right to rest and leisure in the declaration, but all in papers and not in practice.

 

Right to education in Article 26 states that more and more women are being educated today. The reality is that they are educated but all to become better wives who understand the logic of dogmatic obedience. The mental slavery continues in an enlightened form. Article 28 provides the Right to social order assuring human rights and Article 29 is about community duties essential to free and full development. These two Articles are almost meaningless in the traditional India. In fact, there is a vast gap between the social order in India and the one presumed by the internationally accepted declaration of human rights. Indian women’s rights are lost somewhere between the gaps, as tradition overshadows a modern concept of right.

 

This analysis proves that women in India enjoy rights only on paper but not in practice. Even the basic natural right to life and personal liberty which is a fundamental right

(Article 21) is not available to women. Hence, it does not require a photo-finish of a case study to come to this conclusion. It is palpably present everywhere.

 

The purpose of this analysis on the Women’s Day is to remind the decision-makers, and those in authority, that it is not a day to be celebrated once a year but a day to revise and review the work done in the direction of giving women their proper due. It is reminder for all — men and women — to• take concrete steps to bring both the sexes on the same platform so that the society can be free from patriarchal domination and there may be a rational basis of social relationship.

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