Women by the banks of the Godavari River in Nashik, Maharashtra. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg) 

Watershed Moment For Women’s Rights In India? 

A range of cases involving women’s rights are pending with the Supreme Court, from entry of women into the Sabarimala temple to adultery. In the upcoming Monsoon session of Parliament, bills like the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, the Transgender Persons( Protection of Rights) Bill are yet to be discussed.

Do all of this point to a watershed moment for women’s rights in India?

While legislation and rule of law start the process, it takes an inordinate amount of time to trickle down and create real social change in the existing system, according to Senior Advocate Karuna Nundy.

The country’s courts are a good starting point, though, says Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, adding that the apex court is handling these cases with the seriousness they deserve. And while most decisions on women’s empowerment decisions currently lie with an overwhelmingly male majority panel, Jaising insists a 50:50 gender ratio is a prerequisite to bringing about fair change.

Watch the full conversation with senior advocates Karuna Nundy and Indira Jaising and vice president of All India Democratic Women’s Association Sudha Sundararaman.

List of women’s rights-related cases pending in court:

Sabarimala Temple Case

  • Petition challenging Devaswom board banning entry of women
  • Women of age group 10-50 years currently banned entry
  • Case before Supreme Court

Female Genital Mutilation

  • Court hearing a plea by an advocate seeking ban on female genital mutilation
  • Centre seeks to ban FGM
  • Centre opposed to any practice that violates integrity of women's body
  • Dawoodi Bohra community arguing that FGM is part of Islam
  • Case before Supreme Court

Marital Rape

  • Court hearing pleas seeking to make marital rape an offence
  • Case before Delhi High Court

Adultery

  • Court hearing home ministry’s plea to preserve the validity of Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code

Upcoming bills in Monsoon Session 2018:

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016

  • Objective: Prohibits discrimination against a transgender person in areas such as education, employment, and healthcare
  • Status: Introduced in Lok Sabha, referred to Standing Committee

The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016

  • Objective: Regulation of surrogacy. Prohibits commercial surrogacy, but allows altruistic surrogacy involving no monetary compensation to the surrogate mother other than the medical expenses and insurance coverage
  • Status: Introduced in Lok Sabha, referred to Standing Committee

The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018

  • Objective: To curb the menace of trafficking as well as ensuring timely action including prosecution of the culprits
  • Status: This bill has to be introduced, considered and passed by the Lok Sabha.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017

  • Objective: Bill makes all declaration of talaq, including in written or electronic form, to be void and illegal.
  • Status: Bill passed by Lok Sabha, pending in Rajya Sabha

List compiled from PTI and Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha websites.