Women in judiciary

Out of the total population of India, 48% of it are women, out of them only 5 to 15% choose the legal profession. The meagre number of women in legal profession is a testament to the fact that sustaining a profession in this sector is not easy. Harrassment, gender biases and insensitivity of male co-workers has put women at a disadvantage. It is better to not see this through the prism of feminism but through the prism of realism. Realism calls out for a balance between the genders in the society.

Only 3 out of the total 34 Supreme Court judges of India have been women. Only 7% of women in high courts are judges and 17% of women are there in subordinate courts in the capacity of judges. Having a woman chief justice of India just feels like a far-fetched dream today. Women are in no form lesser to men, they are in fact as equal as or in some matters even better than men. Moreover, they should not be a need for comparison because as individuals, beyond the divide of genders, we all have our uniqueness and capabilities.

Further it is important to consider the opaqueness of the appointment system through the collegium which sports women and the back seat. Litigation is not considered a secure field as it does not guarantee a continuous income as compared to other jobs which can be secured through entrance examinations and have reservations for women. Reason why we see more number of judges in the subordinate and high courts as compared to the supreme court, where appointments are not so transparent. This is a major drawback among the others.

Women only makeup for 15% total advocate enrolled in India. While giving assertive and well articulated arguments, a woman advocate is seen as being aggressive. Where as aggression is applauded in male advocates. This bias reeks of misogyny and patriarchy. The fact that, we as a society cannot see women arguing for their clients is because we expect them to be subjugated. Is not easy for human’s psyche to accept a woman who is assertive and is well opinionated. Such biases will take time for us to overcome but progress cannot wait for our psyche’s to change and modify.

Hence we must give equal chances to women and watch out for small and subtle changes that can be made in our attitude in day to day life. Articles 14, 15(3), 16 ,42, 39 (a), 39 c, 39(b), 39 (c) speak of gender justice which is essential to be acquired by every woman citizen of India. Motive is not to suppress men in return for the success of women. But it’s about parity, justice and equal opportunity. Equal opportunity should not be just words enshrined in the preamble. These are basic tenets that are founding fathers of the Constitution have mandated for us to follow to be the democracy that we visualise to become.

Recently, a Madhya Pradesh high court judgement give bail to a person accused of sexual harrassment because he would request the victim to tie him a rakhi. Previously, there have been judgements where the judges have not punished the accused of rape and molestation because they agreed to marry the victim. In such cases the agency of a woman is neglected and it is supposed and assumed that all the decision making lies in the hands of men, be it the judge or the accused.

Bringing more women to judiciary would increase the gender sensitivities, as women are more empathetic and sympathetic than men due to their nature, although not generalizing and stereotyping women. It can also bring them social respect and give the society more women role models for young girls to follow and learn. Will improve the accessibility of justice to other women who face injustice in day to day life, as it can be easy for them to talk to women who can understand their plight. Which otherwise can be trivialised by other advocates and judges.

Harrassment at workplace and even at internships for freshers isn’t new. Many young women leave the profession at the behest of their maternal duties. But one must understand that given the opportunity, women can manage well. Crèche system in courts, change in attitude by all, gender sensitisation at institutions is needed to bring about change.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

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