It’s been six months since Her Circle embarked on its journey to educate, empower and entertain women. And in these months, as we bring you stories of triumph, we as a nation, have witnessed several court decisions that made us squeal in joy. You know that feeling of relief when a long impending step towards gender equality is finally taken.
Of course, we have a long way to go. But let these court decisions bring us hope and inspire many more such moves in the future.
Here are six court decisions that Her Circle loved in the past six months.
Doing away with the ridiculous tie-a-rakhi-to-your-rapist condition
On March 18, the Supreme Court dismissed Madhya Pradesh High Court’s order in which it asked a rape survivor to tie a rakhi to her rapist, which would offer him bail. The court also stated that in future, judges should ‘ avoid making remarks that create stereotypes’.
“The bail condition in question amounts to further victimisation of the survivor in her own house. In the context of ‘Raksha Bandhan’ being a festival of guardianship between brothers and sisters, the said bail condition amounts to the gross trivialisation of the trauma suffered by the complainant in the present case,” said the plea, as per reports by TOI. We agree! (Read more)
Doing away with the discriminatory medical fitness checks in the army
Around 80 women army officers had filed petitions against the late implementation of the medical fitness criteria in March this year. The Supreme Court held that these medical requirements for women to be made permanent in the army were irrational and discriminatory. The court observed that the checks were based on female stereotypes and were with the intention of rejection, instead of selection. “We must recognise here that the structure of our society has been created by males, for males,” the Apex Court said. The court further added, “The pattern of evaluation causes economic and psychological harm to SSC (short service commission) women officers.” (Read more)
Asserting the bodily agency of pregnant women
A woman had moved to the Kerala High Court in March this year, petitioning to be granted permission to terminate her 22-week old pregnancy owing to mental and physical disabilities. Permitting her, the court said: “The freedom of a pregnant woman in making a choice as to whether the pregnancy should be continued cannot be taken away. Likewise, the right of the mother to terminate the pregnancy medically even after the permissible period in terms of the provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act has been recognised by the courts, if there is a substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.” (Read more)
Citing late work hours as an unacceptable reason to deny employment to women
In April this year, the Kerala High Court refused to acknowledge the reason for late working hours as acceptable in denying employment to women. “It is the bounden duty of respondents to take all appropriate steps to see that a woman worker is able to carry out duties assigned to her at all hours, safely and conveniently. Protective provisions cannot stand in the way of a woman not being considered for employment for which she is otherwise eligible,” the single bench of Justice Anu Sivaraman observed. (Read more)
Allowing women to appear for the National Defence Academy examinations
In August this year, the Supreme Court called out our army for gender discrimination policies and reinforcement of the glass ceiling that prevents women from joining the force. “This is a policy decision based on gender discrimination. We expect the army and the government to take a more constructive view of the matter,” the Supreme Court said, allowing women to appear for the NDA exams. (Read more)
Upholding marital rape as a valid reason for divorce
In August this year, the Kerala High Court dismissed a man’s plea wanting to stop his wife from seeking divorce on grounds of marital rape. However, even though marital rape is not recognised by law, the bench ensured that it does acknowledge the violation of the woman’s bodily agency. The Bench said, “merely for the reason that the law does not recognise marital rape under Penal Law, it does not inhibit the court from recognising the same as a form of cruelty to grant a divorce. We, therefore, are of the view that marital rape is a good ground to claim divorce”. (Read more)