Patriarchal Hegemony in the Legal System
- This issue has raised after a sessions court in Kerala, while granting anticipatory bail recently to an author and social activist in the State in a case of alleged sexual harassment, observed that the offence under Section 354A of the Indian Penal Code (‘Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty’) is not prima facie attracted when the de facto complainant was dressed in ‘sexually provocative dresses’.
- In the case which is mentioned above the court while receiving the bail application held that de facto complainant was wearing a dress that was ‘sexually provocative’ and hence, Section 354A would not be used against the accused.
- This is seen as a clear violation of the constitutional right to dignity, life and personal liberty, and privacy of the women.
- This is seen as a Freudian slip, a Freudian slip is defined as an error in speech, memory or action that occurs due to the interface of an unconscious subdued wish or internal train of thought.
- In this case, the judiciary has clearly objectified women and by segregating the dressing of women as sexually provocative, the judiciary has disturbed the entire socio-legal system.
- In the Aparna Bhat vs The State Of Madhya Pradesh (2021) case, the Supreme Court had held that the court must avoid using languages that trivializes the survivor.
- Thus, the following conduct, actions or situations are deemed irrelevant, e.g. – to say that the survivor had in the past consented to such or similar acts or that she behaved promiscuously, or by her acts or clothing, provoked the alleged action of the accused, that she behaved in a manner unbecoming of chaste or ‘Indian’ women, or that she had called upon the situation by her behavior, etc.
What is the remedy?
- One of the important things to do is including feminist jurisprudence in the curriculum for law students.
- Apart from this it is necessary to sensitize legal practitioners and judicial officers about feminist jurisprudence.
- Choice of dress is an integral part of an individual’s freedom of privacy and dignity. Judging a person’s dress is not the business of a judge; nor is the dressing style of a woman, a licence to outrage her modesty.
Source The Hindu
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