Significance of Supreme Court Guidelines on Gender Stereotypes

Synopsis: The Supreme Court advocated some important steps to avoid gender stereotypes while setting aside the Madhya Pradesh High Court order. Now it is time for us to work towards its implementation.


The Supreme Court set aside the controversial rakhi-for-bail order of Madhya Pradesh High Court. Further, the top court issued a set of guidelines for dealing with sexual assault cases. The courts in the country have to follow these guidelines in entertaining such cases. The SC also mentioned a few important things about gender stereotypes in India.

The Supreme Court mentioned a quote of a famous Norwegian playwriter Henrik Ibsen to explain gender stereotypes in India. (His playwright uses feisty women characters who break-free from traditions of familial confines). The Court mentioned that a Woman ‘cannot be herself’ in an ‘exclusively masculine society, with laws framed by men’. 

Avoidable gender stereotypes:

The SC listed a host of avoidable gender stereotypes. Such as,

  1. Women are physically weak.
  2. Men are the head of the household and must make all the decisions related to family
  3. Women should be submissive and obedient.
Level of gender stereotypes in India:

The SC observed certain important observations about gender stereotypes in India. Such as,

  1. Gender violence in India is often covered by the culture of silence.
  2. The court also observed that there is an unequal power equation between men and women. This includes cultural and social norms, financial dependence, and poverty
  3.  The actual data of cases may not reflect the actual incidence of violence against women.
Other judicial interventions on gender equality:

The SC expressed gender equity through its judgments. Few important cases in this regard are,

  1. Secretary Ministry of Defence vs. Babita Puniya case: In this case, the court held that men and women working in the Army are equal. The court held that they work as “equal citizens” for a common mission.
  2. Anuj Garg vs Hotel Association of India case: In this case, the court mentioned that the “notion of romantic paternalism” is used to put women “in a cage”.
    Note: Romantic Paternaliam: It is a belief based on the “romantic” notion that women are the weaker sex than nen.

In conclusion, women are battling societal prejudices. To achieve that everyone must take responsibility, especially institutions and those in important positions.

Source: The Hindu

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