Institutionalized Gender Bias


India has been growing intolerant.

When Police Commissioners/Deputy Inspector General of Police can make hugely negative statements that women should dress appropriately and their sometimes inappropriate dressing invites people to rape them (I am not quoting exactly here, but this was the meaning communicated), what do you make out of such statements coming from senior law enforcement officials ? This has happened twice or thrice over the last one year in different states of India.

Now comes respected Judges. The recent episode in the State of Karnataka shocked most people in the country. What did this Judge say in open Court that provoked very strong reactions in society ?

One serious point that the learned Judge made: “it was acceptable for a man to beat his wife as long as he took good care of her.” This was while hearing a case in which the plaintiff was seeking divorce on the grounds that she was being subjected to cruelty and abuse by her husband.

He stated that “Women suffer in all marriages. You are married with two children, and know what it means to suffer as a woman. Yesterday, there was a techie couple who reconciled for the sake of their child. Your husband is doing good business, he will take care of you.”

SHOCKING, isn’t it ?

It does not stop there.

one has to hear what he has to say about an unmarried lawyer arguing marriage-related cases.

“Family matters should be argued only by married people, not spinsters. You should only watch. Bachelors and spinsters watching family court proceedings will start thinking if there is any need to marry at all. Marriage is not like a public transport system. You better get married and you will get very good experience to argue such cases,” he advised her.

RIDICULOUS !

But if this is what people get from a learned and experienced Judge, what hope will they have to get proper justice meted out to them in family disputes ?

All these things happened in a family court presided over by this Judge, from which position he was removed by the Chief Justice of Karnataka as a result of a vigorous campaign launched by women and women lawyers.

So, intolerance is not an uncommon thing in a democracy. It is not just a thing which happens in theocratic states. Even in this 21st Century, in a modern democracy characterized by law and order, such things can and always happen. If not this incident, there will always be another such incident, as we have people who like to shoot from their mouth and shoot themselves even in lofty positions in society and government.

Fortunately, we do have institutions with responsible folks who watch and listen to protests which are justifiable.

In this specific case, there was justice meted out to the Judge. But he is still there in the judicial system. But for the moment, he is away from the family court. Lawyers and Plaintiffs can breathe easy for some time !

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan
9th September 2012
Mumbai

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