Gender-Neutral Laws: A Necessity

The main objective of this paper is to provide an analytical review on need of Gender-Neutral Laws in India. Despite having high growth rate and many government measures to encourage gender equality still its India has a gender gap. The paper helps us to understand the problem of gender inequality in India. It deals with how men are subjected to violence and still be quiet.

Introduction:

The expression ‘Gender Neutral’ does not have one obvious meaning. It is an idea that languages and other social institution like gender identity must avoid distinguishing roles of individual on basis of people’s gender in order to avoid discrimination arising from the impression that there are social roles for which one gender is more suited than the other.

Aspects of Gender Neutrality:

  1. Gender Neutrality with respect to victim:- It is seen that the members of the marginalized sex like transgender also becomes victim to this offence and they cannot claim for any protection because the crime of rape is not gender neutral and it does not safeguards the right of transgender or male.
  2. Gender Neutrality with respect to the perpetrator: -The reality is that even women can be perpetrator of such crimes is bluntly ignored by Indian society as well as judiciary and executive.
  3. Gender Neutrality in custodian, communal, war, and conflict situation

Gender Neutrality Is Not an Anti-Women:

Gender neutrality has been seen clearly as against feminist principles and an attack on women activists. Feminists have criticised it as a backlash against feminism[1]. However, the answer to this is that the recognition of male victimization does not undermine feminist understanding of rape. Various feminists have actually recognized male victimization.[2] For e.g., Susan Brown miller in her Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape has also suggested that the offence must not be bound by victim’s gender[3]. In essence, gender neutral laws do not make female victims more vulnerable but just acknowledges the existence of male victimization.

View Against Gender Neutrality:

The most prominent view against complete gender neutrality is that the Indian Society have a patriarchal mind set and also the negative consequences for female victims which might happen. The supporters of gender neutrality rely on argument of right to equality and the social stigma that surrounds male rape. While sexual violence against males and transgender must be addressed, it should be made clear that it does not create a detrimental environment for female victims for rape. Everyone must strive to create an equal society and should move in the direction of achieving gender neutral laws. However, considering the situation and treatment given to the women in India at present, it will not be wise to drastically change the rape laws into gender neutral laws. A step-by-step must be adopted towards this approach. Therefore, as recommended by the Verma Committee[4] the rape law must be amended to make the victim gender inclusive while the perpetrator remains gender specific.

Crimes Against Women and Men:

The violence against the women of our country has always been fought against for decades and has gained widespread protests across the country. We have witness some of the heinous and gruesome crimes which leads to emphasise on the need for coming up with stringent laws of punishing men and enacting pro women legislations and also implementing them to its fullest. Several organisations have tried to highlight the plight of men been victimised in the midst of such pro women protection laws. This brings in the necessity of framing gender neutral laws. The unfortunate thing is that although one is the victim of the crime then also, he/she fall victim to something or a crime that is not recognized by the society or the law itself. Men must be given equal access to come into the open just like women and be not judged for their manhood for reporting crimes against them. The fullest form of equality will be in that time when we are standing at the doors of law to seek justice and the law is nothing but just demanding to punish the offender based on crimes committed and not based on their Gender. 

Critical Analysis:

Bringing in Gender Neutral laws would pave way to make the society think in a forward looking manner which will also enable the society to think that men will not lose their masculinity if they bring out their instances of such abuse into the open. Feminist arguments about woman being vulnerable and attracting counter claims of such abuse if the laws are made gender neutral are to be shunned which will make them realize that even men are equally vulnerable to such instances and it is the offender and the crime that has to be punished. If the gender-neutral laws come into force and are carefully formulated and implemented, it will never be disadvantageous to women. The concept of equality as envisaged under the constitution of India must apply to all crimes and penalising all persons including protection of all persons. It is the time when the banner of justice has to be waved with the thread of equality and not gender targeting.

Conclusion:

Thus, it can be concluded that the existence of male and transgender rape in India cannot be denied.  The direction towards which we must strive to move is gender neutral laws for rape. However, we must try to balance the rights of all identities. It is clear that we require a law which on the one hand protects all identities, i.e., men, women, and the transgender community against sexual violence, and on the other it does not create a detrimental. The need of the hour is to have gender neutral laws in caste and communal conflicts. As for custodial sexual violence, it must be recognized that homosexual rape is norm in Indian prisons and justice must be given to the victims. At the least, in situations of aggravated forms of rape, as in war crimes, caste and communal conflicts, women must be included as perpetrators in cases of gang rape and abetment to rape.

FAQ:

Q.1. What is meant by Gender Neutrality?

It is an idea that languages and other social institution like gender identity must avoid distinguishing roles of individual on basis of people’s gender in order to avoid discrimination arising from the impression that there are social roles for which one gender is more suited than the other.

Q.2. How is the benefit of knowing about Gender Neutral?

Being Gender Neutral help the child to create awareness of identity and self-esteem. Those children who gets the freedom of choice in early life tends to become confident.

References:

  1. www.legalserviceindia.com
  2. www.docs.manupatra.in
  3. https://blog.ipleaders.in
  4. https://en.wikipedia.or

[1] Novotny, P. (2003). Rape Victims in the (Gender) Neutral Zone: The Assimilation of 

Resistance? Seattle Journal of Social Justice, 1, (Iss. 3, Article 62). Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.law.seattleu.edu/sjsj/vol1/iss3/62/ on January 1, 2014. 

[2] Rumney, P. (2007).  In Defence of Gender Neutrality within Rape. Seattle Journal of Social Justice, 6, 481. Retrieved from http://ssrn.com/abstract=1316252 on January 3, 2014.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Report of the Committee on Amendments to Criminal Law (2013), retrieved from http://nlrd.org/womens-rights-initiative/justice-verma-committee-report-download-full-report  on January 2, 2014.

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