A Shift from Gender Centric to Gender Neutral Criminal Laws Precepts of Equality and Justice

Shweta Pathak
Research Scholar (Ph.D. Full – Time), Amity Law School, Amity University, Mumbai

Volume II – Issue I, 2020

In words of American political activist, Gloria Steinem – “A gender- equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ does not exist where everyone can be themselves.” The binary understanding of the word ‘gender’ is deeply rooted in the mindset of the society but indeed the essence of the term lies in the fact that it comprises of male, female and transgender. Gender neutral laws seek to grant equal sanction and opportunity to all the genders without negative discrimination. Since the medieval period in Indian history, vulnerable women were tyrannized and exploited and thus special protection by laws were given to them. Due to the pious efforts of law makers, now women are at par with men in education, employment and status but now in the era of post globalization, the concept of feminism has been completely misinterpreted.  The author does not deny the bitter reality that women are still the target of violence and cruelty but on the other side, almost the whole transgender population and certain men are also subject to brutishness. The rights of these other communities have to be also recognised with the progressive evolution in socio legal framework. This paper focuses on various gender specific criminal laws in India especially comprising of sexual offences and cruelty as well as the imbalances drawn between these gender centric legislations and the elements guaranteed by our Constitution in the form of justice, liberty, equality and dignity. Modification of gender biased criminal laws is essential as strengthening the status of women does not mean ignoring the victims from other communities. This paper also enumerates that certain issues relating to sexual orientation, marginalization based on gender and gender identity are in need to be addressed and resolved before stepping into the gender-neutral laws shell.

The method of research followed is doctrinal research based on primary as well as secondary sources. The analysis of various legislations and judicial verdicts, along with books and research articles has been done to add credibility to the assertions made in the paper.


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