Tuesday, July 9, 2013

We need gender unbiased harassment laws...

Recent case of suicide of actress Jiah Khan and then subsequent happenings created lot of stir in media and social network. There were few posts criticizing the way case is handled and also some people believe that there is an attempt to accuse a man (in this case someone named Suraj Pancholi, her boyfriend) for her suicide. Many also feel that some of the laws like dowry law or sexual harassment laws are heavily biased towards women and they often misuse them to blackmail men and their families (definitely there are some real cases to prove this point), so some of these posts take the familiar route to accuse victim for her actions (in this case Jiah, no doubt she is responsible for what she did but it's also necessary to investigate what made her to take this step) and feeling sympathy with accused (still nothing is proven against him and I doubt anything will come out of this case, it's not right to blame this guy without knowing the real truth). This case is an ideal example of our attitude towards these type of problems, some people want to blame men for whatever wrong happens with women and some people always want to blame women's behavior for whatever wrong happens to them, these tow are very polarized groups always fight with each other. We see somewhat similar attitude when people try to accuse poor victims in most of rape cases and blame their dress or behavior for crime committed against them, by doing this both parties are not helping to solve this problem but they are making things more complicated.

In last few years there are some laws introduced in many countries to curb number number of cases related to physical and sexual harassment, mainly these laws are designed to protect women rights and deliver justice if there is crime committed against them. Some laws are purposely made very strict to make sure that perpetrators of these crimes don't make use of loopholes to escape the punishment, at the same time we also see that some of  these laws can be misused, so there seems be be a two fold problem here. We need very strict laws to control crime against women but at the same time we need to make sure that they can not be misused. Another important point is that it will be a big mistake to assume that only women are sexually harassed or physically assaulted, these crimes are also committed against males, so it is very important that we should have gender unbiased harassment laws. This will provide protection to both the genders from any harassment crimes against them and also reduce the feeling that some laws are very biased towards particular gender or community (there are some laws in India specific to some community harassment). There is no doubt that we need these laws but also they need to be unbiased, crime committed against women is as bad as crime committed against men, both need justice and proper support to deal with these situations, our social structure is such that currently women are more prone or vulnerable towards these incidents that's why we see most of these laws designed particularly to protect them. It is responsibility of law makers and their think tank to make sure that law related with sexual harassment and torture (like dowry) are gender unbiased so that all people feel that they are not unfairly targeted or neglected purposely. Path to seek justice and protection should be offered to all and its availability should not be based on person's gender, religion, caste or any other thing.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)

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