Centre for Advanced Legal Studies and Research, (CALSAR), Thiruvananthapuram

Oppression of Women- An Unending Problem

                                 “One Cannot Resolve What Is Not Acknowledged


 Living in the 21st century, women not being given importance and value is still the number one social issue. Patriarchy, male chauvinism, Misogyny are all the different terms that are used nowadays to show the dislike or oppression towards women within the society itself. Oppression is not something that was just started one day, it is something that women all over the world have faced since time immemorial in different forms and from different people. In India, male domination with a complementary suppression of women has been continuing since pre-historic times.

A lifelong battle:

Oppression or maltreatment towards women or a girl child begins even before being born. In India, female foeticide and female infanticide has been a major issue since the 20th century. Female foeticide is the deliberate killing (or) abortion of the foetus in the womb of the mother after knowing its sex whereas female infanticide is the intentional killing of a girl child after birth. Determining the sex of the baby was made illegal in 1994 by the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Regulation and Prevention of Misuse Act, 1994[1]. This was due to the rise of female foeticides and also the unbalanced child sex- ratios.

Early childhood is the most important phase of development of a person’s life. This is when cognitive, social, and emotional skills are learned, influencing lifelong educational achievement, health, and wellbeing. During this time, they are instructed what to do and not to do by the parents and even the society. Oppression begins as there begins a gender inequality, the usual stereotype that girls love pink and boys blue, and girls should play with barbie dolls while boys should play with cars. Sons are given more preference than daughters. Academically, sons are given more opportunities and even motivation to carry on their future studies. Girls are usually told to take courses that are fit for their future and not too hard.

As they move on with their careers and step into the patriarchal society, boys choose jobs that they like while some girls get married after finishing their undergraduate course. In India, Girls are treated as an object or a burden as such and they try to get her married and send her to another person’s home. Nowadays, the number of literate women is more and since they get proper education, delays the process of marriage and reproduction, etc. It has been argued that the low status in which women are viewed in patriarchal societies creates a bias against females. Even if women get a job that is fit to their expertise, there arises another next issue. The competition or the need to be as competitive and maybe even more productive and hardworking than men, So that they get a stand in the company. They are often compared to their male colleagues and are also subjected to a gender wage gap. Men receive more salary than women because of the preconceived notion that they are the breadwinners of the family and if women get more money than men, they even feel inferiority complex. This problem led to The Equal Remuneration Act,1976 which helps in equal pay for equal work. Even though there exists such an act, women still have to work twice harder to get equal pay or equal respect.

[1] https://www.indiacode.nic.in/bitstream/123456789/8399/1/pre-conception-pre-natal-diagnostic-techniques-act-1994.pdf/ last accessed on 10th December,2021 10:50 pm

Violence against Women

Indian women “have suffered and are suffering discrimination in silence. Self-sacrifice and self-denial are their nobility and fortitude and yet they have been subjected to all inequities, indignities, inequality, and discrimination”[1]

Violence against women has skyrocketed in the 2000s. Women are given very little or no security in the nation and are often subjected to some sort of abuse. If a survey is taken to ask any girl or woman whether they’ve faced any kind of violence, the answer will be a yes. Violence against women is of various types and can happen at any place like home, public place, or office. Violence which are counted as crimes under the Indian Penal Code are rape, kidnapping, and abduction, torture physically and mentally, dowry deaths, wife battering, honour killing, sexual harassment, molestation, trafficking of girls, etc. Rape laws have been made stricter after the cruel case of Nirbhaya[2] which shook the conscience of the entire nation. A 23-year-old woman was brutally gang-raped in a moving bus by a group of 6 people out of which there was a juvenile. The juvenile was the most brutal out of the accused. Women are even abused at the workplace. The famous 1997 case Vishaka v state of Rajasthan[3] formulated the very famous Vishaka guidelines and made it mandatory for both private and public sectors to establish mechanisms to redress sexual harassment complaints. In Kerala, three women died back-to-back in 2021. A similar factor in the three cases is that all of them were married and were often abused and harassed over dowry payments. Hence, they are categorized under dowry deaths. There are several acts and laws that govern the various offenses and injustices against girls and women. Some of them are

Realizing the need of setting up an agency to fulfill the surveillance functions as well as to facilitate grievances of women, Government enacted the National Commission for Women Act, 1990. Even though there are acts and provisions in IPC that restrict and prohibit these acts and various precedents based on offences against women, there are still such offences happening at the same rate. Women do not feel very secure due to these horror stories of various outbreaks of violence taking place everywhere.


The worst kind of oppression is oppression within women. They try to bring other women down with their behaviour and their words. Discrimination against women and girls is a pervasive and long-running phenomenon that characterizes Indian society at every level. They should try to stop changing the women and start changing the system. omen in every sphere of life have to deal with various hurdles As we reach the turn of the century, feminism seems to be at an impasse. Young women agree that women should receive equal pay and equal treatment as workers, but many insist that they are not feminists.[4]. There are still people who do not know the meaning of feminism. They use the word feminism in the wrong places. The most heard comment is that, “Why do we need feminism, Let there be equality.” Most of them think that feminism is a form of female superiority but on the other hand, it is nothing the belief in social, economic, and political equality of the sexes[5] There must be collective empowerment of women and also equality of sexes in the society to overcome oppression. Furthermore, there must strict implementation of the laws of the violence against women and this should be looked after further by the officials.

[1] Madhu Kishwar v. State of Bihar, (1996) 5 SCC 148

[2] Mukesh and Anrs. v. NCT Delhi (Nirbhaya Case),(2017) 6 SCC 1

[3] Vishaka & Ors. v State of Rajasthan & Ors., (1997) 6 SCC 241

[4] See, for example, Barbara Findlen, Listen Up: Voices From the Next Feminist Generation xiv (Seal 1995) (noting that many more “young feminists have integrated feminist values into our lives” than “consider themselves feminist”); Carolyn Sorisio, A Tale of Two Feminisms: Power and Victimization in Contemporary Feminist Debate in Leslie Heywood and Jennifer Drake, eds, Third Wave Agenda: Being Feminist, Doing Feminism 134, 136 (Minnesota 1997) (noting that the media “continuously” claim that young women have disowned feminism)

[5] https://www.britannica.com/topic/feminism/last accessed on 20th December, 2021 6:00 pm

Roshni Sabu
9th Semester BA L.L.B

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