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Priya Ramani Case: Significance and Challenges

Synopsis: Since 2018, women revealing their stories of sexual assault faced many hardships.  The verdict in the Priya Ramani Vs MJ Akbar case is new hope for those women.

Background

  • In 2018, Priya Ramani made allegations of harassment against MJ Akbar through Tweets and News article.
  • In turn, a criminal defamation case was filed in Delhi High Court against the journalist by Union Minister.
  • Recently Delhi court has acquitted Priya Ramani in the defamation case filed by a former Union minister.

What are the important observations made by the court in this case?

  • One, the court accepts the fact that many women do not file complaints due to the social stigma in society.
  • Two, the court said that the victim has a right to put her grievance even after years and decades.
  • Three, the judgment also upholds that reputation cannot be protected at the cost of human dignity. The Right of a woman’s reputation has been guaranteed under Article 21.

What is the significance of this verdict?

  • The verdict upholds women’s right to share their experiences of sexual harassment whenever they are comfortable. It also disregards claims to male respectability in a patriarchal society.
  • It also approves any future moves by women in support of campaigns similar to #metoo movement.

What are the challenges faced by women while expressing their vulnerable conditions?

  • Women who share their experiences of sexual harassment at the workplace are often met with harsh consequences. For example, employers, globally, are expressing an unwillingness to hire more women.
  • It also challenges the Patriarchal society’s values that a privileged man cannot be punished despite their disreputable actions.

Suggestions to solve the menace of sexual harassment?

  • According to an American feminist scholar, Janet Halley, the struggle for affirmative consent shall be fought in the real world and not in the courtrooms.
  • According to her, the struggle for sexual consent of women should have the following features,
    • One, promoting individual freedom to decide the course of one’s own sexual engagements.
    • Two, affirmative consent has to be realized through legal actions by the engagement with the state.
  • Questioning the male privilege and removing the gender inequality in society appears to be the best way forward for feminism in India.

“Vishaka Guidelines” and “The Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act 2013”

 

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