GENDER DIMENSION OF LAW AND ECONOMICS: AN OVERVIEW
Authored by- 1. Prakriti Parashar
2. Prachi Shree
Achieving gender equality is a big concern in today's world. Many countries consider it part of their development strategy. If all people, both men and women, enjoy equal rights to equal access to services and resources, and have equal opportunities to develop their abilities without prejudice or preferences, then the development of a country is rapid. It strengthens the ability of countries to grow, reduce poverty and govern effectively. Despite tremendous efforts in the creation of advocacy consciousness, various strategies and programs, gender discrimination is pervasive in many aspects of life around the world. Although the nature and extent of discrimination varies from country to country, no part of the world achieves full equality between men and women in legal, social and economic terms. Gender gaps are widespread in access and management of resources, economic opportunity, power, and political speech. Women are still exploited, discriminated against, harassed, and bullied. Back in the present years, the focus has changed from empowering women to developing gender. In this paper, we have addressed all these issues with help of statistics and data along with solutions regarding our legal framework.
Over the last few years, empowerment of women has been an issue of enormous deliberation and contemplation. Many governments have been keeping the agenda of women's empowerment in their priority list for decades. Efforts have been made across nations in order to uplift the socio-economic status of women.
India, being one of the fastest growing economies in the world, has its hand tied down to the deep-rooted bars of gender inequality, violence, and cultural norms that put men on a pedestal and devalue women in every aspect of life. Our country has been ranked as the most dangerous country for women, where every 13 minutes a woman is raped. India is the only country where the female workforce participation has fallen down from 35% in 2005 to 26% today, despite the progress and economic growth; all accruing to factors like gender inequality, sexual harassment, and violence.
2. Challenges And Problems Faced By Women In India
In ancient India, women’s status was no less than a goddess. They were worshipped, adored and respected. But later on, their status declined. They were limited to the four walls of their house. They did not have basic rights. The patriarchal thinking started declining through rebellions and revolutions. In modern India, women are breaking barriers and keeping up with the men in the society. However, women in the present have to deal with bigger problems like sexual assault, domestic violence, dowry related murder, and the list continues. The same woman who was once worshipped is now raped, humiliated, disrespected, assaulted, beaten, killed, and harassed.
Let us look at the distinct problems women are facing in the Indian society:
Sexual Violence against women has many forms. One of the most heinous and degraded form is rape. Non consensual sexual intercourse is often referred to as rape. Some studies indicate women are more likely to get raped by someone they already know than any stranger. In the year 2019, around 32033 rape cases were registered in India out of which around 30, 165 numbers of rape
were committed by predators known to the victim, i.e. 94.2% . These are the data of the cases which were registered, most of the rape cases go unregistered as the family members of the victim are either afraid of their societal status or they get life threats from the perpetrator.
Sexual harassment is another form of sexual exploitation against any gender, but mostly women. It can either be verbal (eve teasing) or physical (molestation, sexual assault). Sexual harassment could happen at any place and in any form. Sometimes the harassers are such people whom we already know like uncle, teachers, coaches, boss, etc. Women and girls are harassed very often at schools and workplace by their teachers, colleagues, boss, co classmates, etc. some examples of sexual harassment include unwelcomed remarks, unsolicited jokes, sexually oriented gestures, unwanted sexual advance, sexually motivated body contact, etc.
Domestic violence or domestic abuse is a type of violence or say abuse in an inmate relationship. In India, the victim is a woman and the offenders are either her husband or his relatives (can be both male and female). Domestic violence has many forms. It can be verbal, physical, religious, reproductive, economic, and even sexual abuse. The rate of domestic abuse by husband or his relatives is 5.9 per 100,000. In a study which sampled 83,703 women (15-49 age groups) across India, approximately 8.5% of women stated that they have experienced physical violence from their husband in order to have sexual intercourse with them. The survey included all instances of marital rape. According to a report, 309,546 crimes were reported against women in 2013, in which around 118,866 numbers of crime amounted to domestic violence alone. 
DOWRY DEATHS OR BRIDE BURNING
In simpler terms, dowry deaths can be defined as when a married woman is murdered or motivated to commit suicide by her husband or in laws over dowry. When a woman fails to give the desired
amount of dowry in order to buy her husband, she is subjected to torture, violence, harassment, and even death. India accounts for the highest number of dowry deaths in the world. Sometimes, women are burnt alive by their husbands or relatives; this is also called ‘Bride burning’. Bride burning has been recognized as a serious concern and a major threat to women.  Around 8,391 dowry deaths cases were reported in 2010. According to a report of the National Crime Records Bureau, dowry deaths account for around 40-50 % of female homicides in India.
The concept and practice of Child Marriage is not new to the Indian society. Child Marriage is the solemnization of marriage between two people who are not major. For girls, the age is below 18 years and for boys; the age is below 21 years. According to studies, one in three child brides is from India. Out of India’s 223 million child brides, around 102 million were married before they turned 15. The risk of Child marriage is more prone to girls who live in rural areas, have no access to education, and those who come from poor households.Child marriage is also considered as a violation of human rights. Moreover, Child marriages have serious repercussions like early pregnancies, which further leads to severe health concerns, poverty, strains the economy of a country, negative impact on the bride's right to education, and many more.
3. Economic Status Of Women
India has been showing improvement in its economic status, however, fails to improve its Female Labour Force Participation indicator over the years. From being the lowest in South Asia to falling 39 ranks in the Global Gender Gap Index by the World Economic Forum (WEF) from 2006, this indicator just seems to have its worst rates every year. The table below shows various inequality statistical measures according to the World Bank's Gender Statistics database for 2012.
3.1 PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN IN THE SECTORS OF THE ECONOMY
The World Bank believes that “Gender Equality is smart economics” and in a country like ours, where women contribute to 48.04% of the total population, this gender must be the center of board-based economic and social development. However, with only 20.4% of women in the organised sector and 32% in the unorganised sector, the overall contribution of Indian women in the workforce is 20.3% as of 2020 (compared to men at 76%). Women only make up for 19.9%  of the total labour force in India.
Keeping in mind the above fall of India’s rank in the global status, it wouldn’t be surprising for us to know that the participation trend of women in the labour force is a downward curve. The graph below shows the same.
Long-term trends suggest the indicator is supposed to fall further or would have a puzzling outcome. There are further variations in the urban and rural participation of women in the labour force of the country. According to statistics, the participation rate of rural women decreased from 26. 45% in 2009-10 to 25.3% in 2011-12, while the rate for urban women increased from 14.6% to 15.5% over the same period.
Considering the toll that the covid-19 pandemic has taken over the employment trends, we
cannot not talk about it in women's employment rate context. It has only worsened the case, which was already in a deteriorating state. Women have been filled to be on the burning and sinking side of the boat. Besides losing jobs, they were also subjected to increased domestic violence and harassment. In March-April 2020 26% of the female workforce moved out against 13.4% of men. By the end of the year, 14% less women were employed with respect to only 1% less men as compared to 2019.
3.2 REASONS FOR LOW PARTICIPATION AND FALLING TREND
Considering women as the backbone of the household, various economic and social factors interact complexly when the decision to take part in the labour force is made. These factors not only influence the decision-making process but also influence the ability and employability of a woman in our country. The causes are listed below:
3.2.1 ECONOMIC REASONS:
Occupational segregation has been one of the dominant economic reasons for the decline in the participation of women in the workforce. Over the period of 40 years (1977-2017), India has seen a sharp increase in the contribution of the tertiary sector (service) to the GDP. From 39% to 53%, the service sector has increased the employment rate of the country. This increase was accompanied by a substantial decrease in the participation of the labour force in agriculture. Agricultural employment of rural men fell from 80.6% to 215 3.2%. The question arises: Was the same thing witnessed by the other gender of the society? According to statistics, only an 18% fall was witnessed for rural women's participation in agriculture. This was because women received fewer employment opportunities than men and had to continue with the agricultural work.
Receiving fewer opportunities, women were laid off at a higher rate than men when the automation and mechanisation of the economy took place. In sectors where machines replaced manual labour, women were replaced by men because of the higher physical strength required to operate these machineries. According to a McKinsey Global Institute report, by 2030 around 12 million Indian women could lose their jobs because of automation and mechanisation.
One of the major reasons for the employment of women in various sectors is the lack of training and skills, which is related to the gender gap in higher education. As per World Bank reports, a 28% increase was seen in tertiary-level female enrollment during 1971-2019. However, only 2% of working-age women received formal vocational education, out of which only 53% joined the labour force in 2018-19. As a result, only 26% of the women are part of the technical job sector of our country as of 2020.
Another reason for such a fall is the income effect. This reason has its soul linked to a deep-rooted social norm of considering women as the second earners of the household, which is only required when there is financial instability in the family. A woman’s employment has nothing to do with her identity and financial independence. As the income of the male member(s) of the family is increasing (because of economic growth), consequently, families are withdrawing women from the labour as a sign of prosperity and financial stability. This is also visible in the trends, as during the economic boom (2005-2010), a 9% decline was seen in the women's labour force participation.
According to some economists, the lower rate could result from measurement issues like undocumented work and the under-counted contribution of women.
3.2.2 SOCIAL REASONS:
Social norms remain to be an obstruction in the progress of womankind. Unpaid care work still continues to fall in the lap of women, taking up 5 hours a day. Seeing women as only second earners of the family or first earners only in case of emergencies still is dictated by the patriarchal thoughts of the society. The stigma of working women is so high that women are withdrawn from the labour force with an increase in the family's income. Insufficient availability of the form of jobs that women say they would love to do, including normal part-time jobs that offer constant profits and permit females to reconcile family obligations with work. Social norms regarding family work are towards women's mobility and participation in paid work. Childbirth and looking after aged mother and father or in-legal guidelines account for the following factors wherein females drop off the employment pipeline. The cultural luggage of approximate females running outside the house is so robust that during maximum conventional Indian families, quitting work is an essential precondition to the marriage itself. These reasons accrue to the fact that women are unable to work extra hours.
Women are not employed for being women, women face discrimination in employment and opportunities because of their feminine reasons like menstruation and pregnancy. In the formal sector, a pregnant woman is obliged to 26 weeks of paid maternity leave under the landmark legislature of 2017. This increases the cost of the companies, which restricts them from hiring women. Additionally, women find it difficult to find new jobs after pregnancy or childbirth.
Menstruation is more of a problem for informal labour or contractual labour, where employers fear the loss in productivity due to the low efficiency of women during menstruation, which reduces their monetary gains. So, contractors hire fewer women or pay them less for the same.
The major reason why families and women themselves fear participation in the labour force is sexual harassment. Women face sexual harassment inside and outside work. Civil society claims that 70% of women are sexually harassed in some or another way. On public transport in India, 4 out of 10 women are harassed every hour, making it difficult to commute for working women.
Another hindrance is workplace harassment. 54% rise in sexual harassment reported at workplaces between 2014-17 from 317 to 570. 12% of all sexual harassment cases occur on a daily or weekly basis and women having it worse with the rate at 60%,where 6 out of 10 women do not file a case against the harasser with the fear of losing their jobs. Victims of abuse are 6.5 times more likely to change their jobs and profession and 4.5 times more likely to opt out of the labour force accruing to the traumas instilled in them. The table below shows the trend in the reported cases of workplace harassment in India from 2014 to 2019. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act-2013 was brought in with good intentions but has failed to deliver results. 60% of people feel that workplace harassment is taken seriously by the organisation, but the culprit is not punished at all or appropriately. According to Census data, this fear of harassment and injustice restricts 68% of the women from going outside and seeking employment opportunities.
The rise in the reported cases can be seen, however, the grey part of the argument is 70% out of 6047 respondent women in 2017 said that they did not report sexual harassment by superiors because they feared the consequences.
4. Cost Of Gender Inequality In India
Every inequality incurs a cost. India pays the cost of this gender chasm socially and economically. The average cost that country pays because of productivity loss that results from gender inequality is 22,500 USD per person. The economic impact of achieving gender equality is estimated to be 700 billion USD of added GDP by 2025. According to the World Bank, “India could boost its growth by 1.5 percentage points to 9 percent per year if around 50% of women could join the workforce”. However, this is not the culmination point, the country also incurs the following losses:
Women have always been seen as a responsibility to be passed on from one man (father) to another (husband/in-laws). As a result, most women do not hold any property to their name despite having equal inheritance rights. The economic inequality in access to credit due to lack of property rights and collateral prevents 8% of women every year from entering the workforce/industries in India. Although many microcredit schemes have come into effect (some successful) , a review by microcredit practices found that these end up making women over credited, leading to defaults in payment and suicides.
The economic cost of opportunity based discrimination faced by women in fields of entrepreneurship, scientific profession, and military services has its roots linked to the social norms and gender based violence. With only 5% women entrepreneurs in the country, the gruesome reality of gender inequality is not hidden. Even in professions like teaching, where the female participation has been rising, only 25% receive training, where & 82% men receive training. This disparity accrues to the fact that women are the second earners of the family. As a result, every year 6 women out of 10 lose their jobs due to lack of training.
All these factors move us closer to the problem of financial dependency which 71.5% of the women face in our country, making them vulnerable to violence. The estimated cost of violence against women in India is 3.2% of the GDP. According to reports of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, 133154 cases have been reported under Domestic Violence against Women in India. Among these, 76% of the violence was related to financial matters by husbands or relatives. These are considered as a loss of productivity and human resources in economic terms, but it is a social cost that a woman pays for being a part of the patriarchal society.
Financial dependency makes a woman weak and weakens her family, and such factors lead to cases of Dowry and Dowry Deaths. Despite the cultural transformation and legal implications, the practise of Dowry is far from demolition. The concept of adding a price tag to the boy depending on his qualification and profession brings in the concept of “DULHA BIKTA HAI” referred to in articles and street plays, which shows how much money is required to transfer the responsibility of a daughter to another man. According to the NCRB Report, ‘Crime statistics-2016’, 7,621 cases of dowry deaths have been reported in India.
5. Legal Status Of Women In India
Women are the key to life. The world is incomplete without a woman and yet we fail to deliver them basic legal rights. Women have always faced inequality. If we turn pages of history, we can see them struggling for their basic rights. However, over the past few decades, the legal status of women in India has changed. Earlier, the system was pro patriarchy but it has tended to improve in recent times. The changes in the legal system led to a period of renaissance for women in India. Let us now discuss some of the major acts made specifically to safeguard woman’s rights.
HINDU WIDOWS REMARRIAGE ACT 1856
Indian society has always seen a widow as a stigma. A widow was considered a bad omen for the society. The taboo was very prevalent during the regime of the East India Company until Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar started a reform movement in favour of widow remarriage. And finally the hard work of Vidysagar’s campaign paid off when the Hindu Widows Remarriage Act was enacted on July 26, 1856 which legalized the remarriage of hindu women all over India under the rule of East India Company.
THE HINDU SUCCESSION (Amendment) ACT, 2005
This act is an amendment of the previous act which contained gender discriminatory provisions. According to the new amendment, the daughter shall become the coparcener of her parent’s property by birth just as the son. Earlier, the daughter was not allowed to become a part of her father’s Hindu undivided family (HUF) which was also seen as a revocation of women’s property rights. But after the 2005 amendment act, married daughters are not only considered a part of their father’s HUF but can also be appointed as the ‘Karta’ of the HUF. The amended act gives equal rights and duties which were earlier limited to sons. Section 23 and Section 24 were also repealed under this amendment.
Vinneta Sharma v Rakesh Sharma and Ors
The Supreme Court of India passed a landmark judgment on The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005.Section 6 of the act states that the daughter will become a coparcener by birth in her own right just as the son. In this case, the question aroused as to whether the Amendment gives the right to daughters of becoming a coparcener by birth as that of the son irrespective of the father being alive before the amendment. The three Judge bench passed a historic judgment stating that the right to become a coparcener is given by birth to both the son as well as daughter and even if the father was not alive on or before the amendment, i.e. 09.09.2005, it does not curtail the daughter’s right over her father’s property. The judgment overruled the previous judgments of the Supreme Court in Prakash v. Phulavati and Mangammal v. T.B. Raju wherein the judgment given was just the opposite.
THE DOWRY PROHIBITION ACT, 1961
The Dowry Prohibition Act was passed in 1961 in order to curb the system of dowry and the death caused by it. The act had such punitive provisions that the government had to amend it twice in the same year the act was enacted i.e. 1961. Dowry under this act is defined as “any property or valuable money or security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly by any party or by the parent for marriage will amount to dowry” Dowry is generally taken in cash or in household items which is disguised as ‘gifts’ for the groom and also the bride as these items will help the newly wedded couple set up their homes easily. But why are the so called ‘gifts’ only given by the bride’s family?
In Sanjay Kumar Jain v. State of Delhi, the two judge bench said that “the system of dowry is a curse and slur to the Indian society as well as on its democratic structure. The frequent deaths due to dowry are just incomprehensible and hard efforts should be made to curtail and combat this evil.”
However, the stigma of this evil in disguise of dowry is still out there in our society. The deaths relating to dowry are increasing every day due. We need to have more structured legislations. A practical approach in this matter should be taken by the government.
THE PROHIBITION OF CHILD MARRIAGE ACT, 2006
The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 prohibits child marriages and any matter or incident connected with it. The act came into force on first of November, 2007. This act also replaces The Child Marriage Restraining Act of 1929 due to its ineffectiveness. The act applies to the whole of India except for Jammu and Kashmir. Under the act, ‘Child’ is defined as a girl below 18 years and a boy below 21 years of age. As per the Majority act, a minor is defined as a person who has not attained the age of majority. Offences under the act are cognizable and non bailable.
The act includes provisions related to annulment of child marriages and ancillary rights arising from it, such as legitimacy of children born from such marriage, custody and maintenance. Furthermore, the Act provides for the appointment of a Child Marriage Prohibition Officer, who may further obtain several preventive orders from a court such as injunction or assistance of the police. The duty of the Child Marriage Prohibition Officer includes creating awareness amongst the community, sabotaging or preventing marriages and convicting the accused for the offence.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF WOMEN AT WORKPLACE (PREVENTION, PROHIBITION AND REDRESSAL) ACT, 2013
Sexual harassment at workplace is not only violation of women’s right to equality but also a violation on her right to life and liberty. Such crimes create an insecure and antagonistic environment for working women which further results in lesser participation of women at work place, affecting their social and economic growth. After 16 years of the famous Vishaka Case,
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, also known as the POSH Act came into force on 9 December, 2013. The act aims to provide protection against sexual harassment of women at work place. The act also talks about the complaints of sexual harassment cases and their redressal. Sexual harassment is defined as “any unwelcome behavior or act (directly or indirectly) such as physical contact and advances, any demand or requests for sexual favors, making sexually colored remarks, showing pornography or any other physical , verbal or non- verbal conduct of sexual nature. 
Shanta Kumar V. Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) & Ors
In this case, the court stated that any physical contact or advance shall be considered sexual harassment provided that it is done with a sexually determined conduct. Just a mere physical contact with no sexually motivated behavior will not amount to sexual harassment.
The POSH act is a boon for working women as it safeguards their rights to equality, liberty and life. With proper implementation of the law, we can achieve a safe environment for women at the workforce.
PROTECTION OF WOMEN FROM DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT, 2005
The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 came into force on 26th October, 2006 by The Ministry of Women and Child Development. For the first time the term ‘Domestic Violence’ was defined in Indian Law. The meaning of Domestic Violence, in this act, has a broader perspective not limited to just physical violence. It includes emotional or verbal abuse, sexual abuse and also economic abuse. An aggrieved person is defined under this act “any woman who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the respondent and who alleges to have been subjected to any act of domestic violence by the respondent”. One of the main features of the act is that the act also provides for protection of women against violence within the relationships which is in the nature of marriage (viz. live in relationships). For the first time live-in relationships was given legal recognition along with legal protection under this act.
A child, who alleges to have been undergone domestic violence, can also get relief under this act. The mother of the victim child can file a complaint on the behalf of her child (can be male or female).
6. Globalization And Women
With the past two decades of globalisation, the effect on women has been uneven. It has increased the employment of women in the economy by opening up the sectors and making them aware, giving them a better chance to prove themselves and selection. However, as stated above, automation has favoured men over women and same goes the case with the IT sector, which flourished manifolds because of globalisation.
Globalisation, however, resulted in increased political awareness and participation. Where women were only seen as a form to support power in a multi-party democracy, through reservation (33%) in the parliament and in the party itself, women have been in the role of representation as well. The narrowing of the literacy gap between two genders is also an impact of globalisation.
With the opening up of the economy, came better access to health care, but women were neglected in this field. Women's health is largely reflected by indicators such as female mortality and morbidity, disease burden, reproductive health, which includes reproductive capacity, contraction, abortion, maternal mortality and morbidity, gynaecological morbidity and infertility; nutrition, work environment, poverty, sexual harassment and violence against women and its consequences; and nutrition, work environment, poverty, sexual harassment and violence against women and its consequences. Malnutrition, which is frequently caused by gender inequality in food distribution, is a major danger to girls' and women's health. During their productive years, women are at a higher risk of early mortality and disability. Mother and infant death rates of 47% and 70%, respectively, combined with women's educational backwardness, result in low social and economic standing, limiting their access to resources.
Globalisation has also brought in threats of human trafficking, which is the modern day slavery as stated by Dr. K.G. Mallikarjuna, which has 56% women as their victims.
6.1 SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND WOMEN
According to the UN General Assembly, meeting of 25th September 2015, all its members adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as the agreed framework for international development. Among the 17 SDGs, 5th is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. India. A collaboration between the Indian government and USAID is one of the government's initiatives to achieve SDG 5 in India.
The Swachh Bharat Mission, or the Clean India Campaign, is one of the most direct initiatives of this collaboration, which addresses several topics with a combination of governmental and private groups.This programme targets gender gaps in hygiene access, which frequently hinders girls from remaining in school. As a result, the campaign also addresses the long-term impact of a girl's education in India. The question again is, how successful was the campaign? With a 0.2% success rate in 100% solid waste management, 4.6 lakhs individual toilets installed and 12 lakhs under progress, the campaign has mixed results and has produced average results.
Several humanitarian organisations have also collaborated with USAID to fight for gender inequality. For example, Azad Foundation and Janodaya works for the upliftment of victims of abuse through education and awareness, whereas Snehalaya works for patients of HIV/AIDS.
6.2. WOMAN EMPOWERMENT
Women's empowerment is all about providing women the authority and control over their life so that they may become anything they want and do whatever they want in situations where they were previously not permitted. The only way out of this puddle of inequality is through empowerment. IMF estimates India’s GDP to go up by 27% if the achievement of desired equality. The Ministry of Women and Child Development in India has launched a lot of schemes like Beti Bacho, Beti Padhao; to promote women's empowerment through education and MUDRA loan scheme to promote women in doing business. The increase in enrollment rate at all levels of education, higher percentage of women in factory labour work ect. result of these steps taken by the government.
In the organised sectors of the economy, the inclusion of women's friendly infrastructure, encouraging women to work in out of box spheres, reporting of crime and harassment, promotion of women in higher roles, and reservation has helped the women rise.for commute, government has
made free or reserved seats for women to reduce cases of harassment and promote working of women. The statistics of improvement are small but empowering.
In the unorganised sector, the figures are not so promising, with 40% of women still stuck with agriculture and 67% of them underpaid, a lot of improvement is required. However, the Central Government, along with the State Government, is trying to educate women and girls about their rights. The increase in percentage of girls in primary schools with high attendance shows that the efforts are taking some shape.
7. Lack Of Gender Neutral Laws
We live in a patriarchal society where the idea of a man being sexually harassed is considered mockery. But what’s the real mockery? In the present era, where most of the countries are moving towards gender neutral laws, India continues to be regressive and propagate gender stereotypes. This is not just a deniability of justice but also the violation of basic Human Rights. The idea of men being the only offenders of such crimes comes from the patriarchal thought of men being physically stronger than women. Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code heedlessly defines only women as victims and being completely negligent towards other gender.
Under IPC, Voyeurism is defined as: Any man who watches, or captures the image of a woman engaging in a private act in circumstances where she would usually have the expectation of not being observed either by the perpetrator or by any other person at the behest of the perpetrator or disseminates such image, Stalking is defined as: Any man who follows a woman and contacts, or attempts to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman; or (ii) monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication, commits the offence of stalking. Sexual Harassment is defined as, a man committing any of the following acts- (I) Physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures. Or, (II) a demand or request for sexual favors; or (III) Showing pornography against the will of a woman; or (IV) Making sexually colored
remarks shall be guilty of the offence of sexual harassment.
All the above laws rules out the possibility of the accused to be of another gender and limits the arena of victims for women only. It also rules out that a female can rape another female, but we've seen in many cases that the female is both the accused and the victim. Making laws gender neutral does not interprets that sexual assaults and stalking affects men and women in the same way but amending these laws would change the way our society sees gender stereotypes.
To quote Swami Vivekananda, “Just like a bird cannot fly with one wing; there is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the status of women is improved”. From being a goddess to a victim, the status of women changed drastically. However, numerous steps and efforts are being made to improve the condition of women. Various movements are taking place all across the globe to safeguard the rights of women. The increase in enrollment at schools, colleges, rate of crimes reported and women in higher positions shows we are moving on the right track. Along with women, we are now also being considerate towards other genders. Injustice anywhere is threat to justice everywhere. We are living in a progressive era and there is no going back to the old social dogmas and regressive stereotypes. Gender Neutral Laws are the need of the hour. It’s high time our judicial system starts recognizing both men and women as victims as well as offenders. Any discrimination on the basis of gender should be eliminated and equal protection to all genders should be given under law. Such amendments will not only benefit men but will also change the way gender stereotypes of sexuality are viewed by our society. However, we still have a long way to go.