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Gender Equality Will Never Be Achieved If These Laws Remain in the Books

We have always been talking about women empowerment and gender equality. But even today, women are not considered equal to men. And it’s not just our society, but our laws too, which are discriminatory against women. While you might be aware of some of them, you will be shocked to know others. Have a quick glimpse to get an insight into the harsh reality of Indian legislations. 

1. The Hindu laws of inheritance

The Hindu law of inheritance, which though has brought several amendments to bring the law in line with gender equality, still has many provisions that treat men and women differently. When a woman dies without having a spouse or children living at the time of her death, her property devolves to her husband’s heir. Thus, even if the deceased woman was ill-treated in her marital home, her husband’s mother or father will get her property instead of her own mother or father.

hindu succession act

2. Parsi women lose all rights when married outside religion. 

Under the personal law, Parsi daughters who marry a non-Parsi loses all the property rights under Parsi religion. They also lose the right to practice the religion and the children born out of such marriage are not considered as a part of the community. When a non-Parsi woman marries a Parsi man, she is entitled to only half of their husband’s property.

3. Muslim law also treats men and women differently. 

When it comes to biasess, it’s not just the Hindu or Parsi law, but the personal law of all the religions are discriminatory in nature. Under Muslim Law, it is legally permissible for a man to have as many as five wives at a time. Muslim women, on the other hand, are given very few rights. Muslim men can divorce their wives at any time, however, the women can give divorce only when their husband delegate them this right- by Khula or Mubarat.

Muslim Woman Rights

4. No right in the marital property after divorce.  

Upon separation or divorce, an Indian woman is entitled only to claim maintenance from her husband. She has no right to the assets, such as the matrimonial home or commercial property, bought in her husband’s name during the marriage. 

divorce property

5. Is raping a separated wife not a serious crime?   

The Indian Penal Code, 1860, provides for a lesser punishment in case of rape of a separated wife as compared to the rape of any other woman. The punishment of forced sexual intercourse with a separated wife ranges from two-seven years of imprisonment, however, in the latter case, minimum punishment is seven years which can extend upto imprisonment for life or even death penalty. Way to go logic!

6. Mother comes second to father in case of guardianship of a minor child.

According to the Minority and Guardianship Act, a father is considered to be the natural guardian of a minor child and only after the father’s death, does the mother become entitled to act as the natural guardian. 

gender equality in law

7. Bigamy is allowed in Goa.  

According to a law in Goa, a ‘Gentile Hindu’ man is allowed to remarry if his first wife does not have a child before the age of 25 or a ‘male child’ before the age of 30.

8. Child Marriage is not yet illegal.

Although India has enacted Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, the act only prohibits the child marriage and does not make it illegal. Thus, the marriage of a person who is below 18 years of age is not illegal, it may be declared void by the wife until she turns 20 and by the man until he turns 23.  

child marriage

9. No equality even in the minimum age of marriage. 

The minimum age for marriage for a boy is 21, but 18 for a girl. However, there is no clear reason behind the same. If we talk about equality, then equality should be there in all the aspects of life. 

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