Discrimination against women and girls is a pervasive and long-standing problem in Indian society at all levels. Despite relatively quick economic growth, India’s progress toward gender equality, as assessed by rankings such as the Gender Development Index, has been unsatisfactory.
While India’s GDP has expanded by roughly 6% in the last decade, female labour force participation has dropped from 34% to 27%. The earnings disparity between men and women has remained constant at 50%. (a recent survey finds a 27 per cent gender pay gap in white-collar jobs). Crimes against women are on the rise, especially violent crimes including rapes, dowry deaths, and honour killings. These changes are concerning since, with growth, comes knowledge and income, as well as a likely decline in loyalty to conventional institutions and socially dictated gender roles that stifle women’s progress.
While the Pandemic wreaked senseless havoc globally, women might b the most affected section of the populace. A growing collection of science and anecdotal data supports experienced and intuitive judgments that the pandemic shock has worsened the situation for girls and women.
Male members of the household are responsible for bringing food from the market, while female members are responsible for cooking and serving the food. Despite the fact that women prepare the food, in more than two-thirds of households, the husband, children, or elderly (particularly men) eat it first. After everyone has gotten their fill, women are the last to eat. Women believe that because males are the breadwinners of the home, they receive a higher part of the food consumed by household members. Women are no longer expected to dine last in society. The situation has improved over time, but there is still more work to be done in terms of attaining equity in intra-household food availability.
Girl child education suffers a lot due to discrimination. It is of course not marginal. Discriminations are due to poverty, child marriage, lack of safe environment in schools and limitations in teachers’ training on gender-based violence. Our society is notoriously patriarchial and the education of the female counterparts in a household is often an afterthought, not a priority. In households where stable income is elusive, males are given preference for continuing their education. It is believed that he shall be the primary breadwinner and thus his education is significantly more important than the females of the family who are supposed to be limited to their roles are caregivers in their families. These decisions are often taken without the input of the women.
The world is moving towards a ‘Knowledge Economy’, with jobs in research and innovation becoming the channels of growth in the 21st century. However these fields continue to be male-dominated, and as per USAID (2019), only 33% workforce in research and innovation comprises female participation in South East Asia, including India. Women are severely underrepresented in engineering, physics, mathematics, information technology and computer science fields. The reason for their under-representation in STEM (birthed from discrimination and prejudice) is not because of the lack of scientific temperament or less capability in STEM. This is proven when year after year girls studying in Delhi outperform boys in their grade 10th and 12th exams.
Due to various socio-economic and cultural reasons, women face discrimination and hurdles in life. Unequal power relations render women more vulnerable on many indicators like health, workforce participation, decent livelihoods, food security, access to services etc. Globally, women constitute 50% of the world’s population, but only 39% are in the workforce and only 27% reach managerial positions in work, only 25% of parliamentary seats are held up by women globally, and only 33% of research positions worldwide are held by women. Women are more undernourished than men, are paid less, have less access to health, recreation and healthcare and have less freedom of choices in leading their lives. In a world becoming more and more knowledge dominated, if women’s participation in STEM is not enhanced, it will exclude more and more women and worsen the indicators. As we strive towards an equitable and holistic society, it is imperative that we also let go of such unjust notions and provide women with the previously gate-kept support and guidance.
In just Delhi, the total number of students enrolled in Pre-Primary & Primary Schools is around 20.79 lakhs, 11.23 lakhs in Middle, 7.31 Lakhs in Secondary and 4.86 Lakhs at Senior Secondary level (Source: Economic Survey of Delhi 2019-20), which also reflects a high dropout rate of girls in the senior secondary level. Every year, approximately 1.15 Lakh students register for the 12th class examination from Delhi government schools. Sadly only a few girls opt for STEM fields. Only around 10,000 girls are pursuing a STEM education at the senior secondary level in Delhi government schools. The number of girls pursuing STEM fields at higher education levels is even less.
The female labour participation rate in India is dismal, with only 20.7 per cent of women participating in the workforce, and even fewer women participating in STEM fields. According to research, women account for 43 per cent of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) graduates in India, but just 14 per cent of STEM positions, showing a gap in the pipeline. India was placed second among the top 20 countries having the most female CEOs in the world. In India, meanwhile, the percentage of female CEOs in tech companies is a pitiful 5.01 per cent. Women make up only 14% of India’s 280,000 scientists and engineers working in research and development institutes. While more women are enrolling in school and college and performing well, data reveals that they are not staying on at employment, particularly in STEM fields. This means that more education does not necessarily translate into better employment or lifestyles. Academic achievement alone will not ensure a smooth transition into the workforce or assist women in remaining employed. Women either abandon STEM careers in the middle, pursue careers in other disciplines, or leave the workforce entirely.
It is no secret that men have founded the bulk of start-ups in India. This isn’t to say that women don’t want to be entrepreneurs. It’s just that it’s significantly more difficult for women to succeed because they face so many more obstacles than men, ranging from home limitations to a lack of money and expertise. The numbers aren’t looking good. According to research, women entrepreneurs account for only 13.76 per cent of all businesses. In the Index of Women Entrepreneurs, India ranks 52nd out of 57 countries. Women are not getting the opportunity they deserve in the workplace. When they wish to go it alone, such opportunities are scarce.
Women, unless well-educated, are handicapped by a lack of understanding of business laws. They can’t seem to find the resources they need to secure finance or hire the proper people. It’s not that women aren’t motivated or enthusiastic about starting enterprises. However, subtle gender biases prevent them from even obtaining loans. Despite all of the progress achieved in women’s rights, business is still considered a man’s domain (we have often heard that men are much better with numbers than women). Because of this notion, it is more difficult for women to find male business partners or deal with their peers. The realm of entrepreneurship is much less friendly to women than the conventional workplace.
Despite all the economical, societal and biological hurdles, some women are truly taking the world by storm and their journey is certainly one to look forward to.
Falguni Nayar, Nykaa’s Founder
Falguni is the founder of Nykaa.com and a well-known businesswoman in India. She launched Nykaa.com after 25 years of experience and a tremendously successful career in financial services. Falguni Nayar, an IIM Ahmedabad graduate, has developed beauty and skin care retail empire.
Divya Gokulnath, Byju’s Co-founder
Byju’s, an educational platform that helps students study more successfully, was co-founded by Divya. In 2019, Divya was recognised as one of Linkedin’s top voices. She feels that education is one of the most effective means of shaping and moulding our children’s minds. Her purpose at Byju’s is to inspire her teams’ passion and energy in order to fulfil BYJU’S vision of “making children fall in love with learning.”
Gita Gopinath, IMF Director
Since January 21, 2022, Indian-American economist Gita Gopinath has served as the International Monetary Fund’s First Deputy Managing Director. In addition to serving as co-director of the National Bureau of Economic Research’s International Finance and Macroeconomics department, the Princeton alumnus has assumed the number-two leadership post at the global financial institution, replacing her prior role as Chief Economist.
Dr Soumya Swaminathan, WHO Chief Scientist
Since March 2019, the Indian paediatrician and clinical scientist has served as the World Health Organization’s chief scientist. The AIIMS New Delhi alumna is known for her internationally recognised research on HIV and tuberculosis, as well as her work as a member of the Global Health Summit’s high scientific panel. Throughout her career, the prominent Indian scientist has received numerous prizes, including fellowships from prestigious Indian science academies and a lifetime achievement award from the Indian Association of Applied Microbiologists.
Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo Former CEO
Indra Nooyi, arguably one of the most powerful Indian businesswomen in the world, has controlled the business industry for over a decade, serving in powerful roles such as chairperson-CEO of PepsiCo, member of Amazon boards, and the International Chamber of Commerce. From 2008 through 2017, Nooyi, a self-made business magnate, has the distinction of being consistently named among Forbes and Fortune’s “World’s 100 most influential women.”
China Uses the Media, Universities, Companies, and Politicians in India
A study paper titled “Mapping Chinese Footprints and Influence Operations in India” was published online by the New Delhi-based think tank Law and Society Alliance. Following the publication of the research, several China-related professionals participated in an online discussion. The experts examined how China has purchased support for itself among academic institutions, think tanks, media outlets, trade associations, tech firms, the entertainment industry, and political parties in India to sway public opinion and undermine the country from within.
China has invested enormous sums of money in buying influence in India’s film industry, universities, social institutions, research think tanks, social media, and the tech sector. The conclusion of a 76-page study report titled “Mapping Chinese Footprints and Influence Operations in India” is as follows.
Mapping Chinese Footprints and Influence Operations in India – A Summary
Chinese influence poses a severe threat to India’s security and democracy, according to a report published by the Law and Society Alliance. It covers a wide range of themes and has outlined major points and strategies used by the Chinese intelligence agencies and the Chinese government to gain a strong foothold in various Indian industries, including the entertainment industry and academics.
The research also identifies the sectors and geographies where China has boosted its influence over time through smart investments. Additionally, it exposes Beijing’s covert plans to sway Indian voters.
The Chinese government has been utilizing every trick in its playbook to make inroads into the Indian economy and society, whether through financial investments in the entertainment business or the socio-political sphere through Confucius Institutes. To forward its self-serving narrative and sow conflict in Indian society regarding China’s activities and goals, this is being done, the research claims.
Over the past few years, China has made numerous attempts to sway Bollywood and gain traction in the Indian entertainment sector. Using cinematic co-productions, this was accomplished. Additionally, it has ensured that Bollywood adequately represents its interests, or at the very least, that they are not being hurt.
Furthermore, it has tried to regulate civil society and think tanks.
The report claims that Beijing has made an effort—and in some ways, succeeded—to penetrate deeply into India’s intellectual community. It has achieved this by making kind contributions both directly and indirectly. And has been regularly facilitating exchange programs between universities and think groups. Through this program, students visit that nation at the expense of the Chinese government and unwittingly buy into Beijing’s propaganda.
The fact that a well-known public management university in India’s north-east offers a Post Graduate Programme for Executives (Managing Business in India and China), as part of which students are sent to Chinese universities, is one illustration of Chinese infiltration into the country’s educational institutions.
The neighboring nation uses the Confucius Institute, a state-supported social foundation, as another weapon to increase its influence in Indian educational institutions. The centerpiece of its propaganda strategies has been the use of the Indian media and well-known media figures to influence civil society. Using social media and mobile applications, especially those with video capabilities, Beijing has been gently attempting to sway India’s populace, as shown in several further instances in the Law and Society Alliance report.
Indian youngsters that are tech aware frequently use mobile apps for daily requirements. In addition, Chinese influence operations have attempted to control this industry, mainly through news apps. Chinese companies have made significant investments in India’s top three news applications, Dailyhunt, NewsDog, and UC News, totaling several million US dollars.
China has had an impact on the tech industry in India as well. Around USD 7 billion has been spent in the Indian tech sector by the government and businesses of that nation since 2015. Chinese firms own a sizable stake in several of the biggest tech firms in India, in addition to making numerous acquisitions.
The strong reputation that Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei enjoys among Indian corporate elites and policy circles is another troubling phenomenon that has been appropriately addressed in the report. The Communist Party of India-(CPI-M) Marxist’s decision not to condemn or criticize China is one of the cases in the Law and Society Alliance report.
The Law and Society Alliance research has demonstrated that China has significantly impacted several Indian sectors in recent years. Global superpowers, including the US, Canada, and Australia, have already taken action to lessen Beijing’s influence on their communities after realizing this rising tendency.
Uber Story: Why does my driver insist on being paid in cash?
When Uber first launched in India in 2013, there was no commission and the driver kept the entire fare. However, a lot has changed since that time. “When I first started driving for Uber, the commission was roughly 5%.” It was raised to 15% a year later, and it is now close to 35 per cent, sometimes even higher,” a driver was reported as saying.
Because of the increase in commission, drivers now make significantly less money than they did a few years ago. This is one of the main reasons why more and more of them are requesting clients to cancel rides on the app in order to avoid paying the 35 per cent commission that Uber takes on every journey completed through its app. Ola and Uber’s drivers have long struggled to make enough money as a result of this high commission system. The pay has been steadily decreasing. During the early days of Uber in India, a driver could make close to Rs 1 lakh in a month. Earning even Rs 30,000 today, on the other hand, appears to be a monumental undertaking.
But something more significant happened in India seven years ago, at the peak of Uber and Ola. Early drivers provided free word-of-mouth promotion for the two companies, resulting in more drivers joining the platforms. Many of these drivers had never owned a car before, and in order to join the company, they took out a loan to purchase one. However, when revenues decreased, paying monthly instalments became increasingly difficult. Rising fuel and natural gas prices, as well as a devastating epidemic, have only made things worse.
One of the main issues these drivers face today is repaying their loans. According to a survey published earlier this year by Inc42, Ola and Uber lost over 30,000 cabs as a result of drivers’ inability to make monthly payments. Drivers must pay for gasoline, insurance, automobile repairs, and loan repayments with their own money. The recent increase in gasoline prices, combined with Uber and Ola’s ever-changing incentive structure, has resulted in a significant drop in hourly rates for drivers compared to pre-pandemic times.
The drivers of Ola and Uber are not the only ones who are protesting against the tech businesses for which they work. Workers employed by practically every major platform firm, including Swiggy, Zomato, Urban Company, and Amazon, to mention a few, have raised their voices against what they perceive to be exploitative working conditions this year. Due to their ‘independent contractor’ status with these organisations, they do not receive the same basic benefits as their workers.
Many of us are fed up with Uber drivers cancelling our rides when they inquire about our destination. It happens all the time, leaving us stranded at home or at work, waiting for a ride. That is no longer the case since cab-aggregator Uber has implemented new steps to reduce cancellations.
Uber Technologies Inc. (UBER) is a digital platform that uses its vast network and technology to move people and commodities from one location to another. Its mobility business offers ride-hailing services, its delivery company offers food, groceries, and other delivery services, and its freight business offers freight shipping services. The Uber platform connects consumers and businesses who require these services with people and businesses who can supply them. As a result, it’s critical for Uber to keep both its drivers and riders pleased.
Uber has established new guidelines to address the issues that both riders and drivers have complained about after receiving dozens of complaints from customers and even drivers. Several passengers around the country have complained of drivers cancelling rides shortly after asking for their destination or failing to turn on the air conditioner in the sweltering heat, or even demanding additional fees to turn on the air conditioner in the cab. Meanwhile, drivers have expressed their dissatisfaction with their pay as a result of the country’s growing fuel expenses.
Furthermore, everyone’s needs in terms of payment mode or cycle are unique. At an Uber advisory council meeting, drivers expressed their need for increased payment options. Uber now displays the manner of payment (cash or online) to drivers before the ride begins. This gives the driver the option of taking a cash-only ride if that is what they require. The company has now implemented a daily pay method for drivers, making the cash or online decision redundant. Trip earnings from Monday to Thursday will be credited to drivers the following day, while earnings from Friday to Sunday will be credited on Monday.
The majority of cab drivers in the country prefer to be paid in cash, thus you may encounter an incident where the driver has inquired as to whether payment would be made online or in cash. This is due to the fact that cab aggregators take a long time to distribute money to drivers. As a result, drivers prefer to be paid in cash because they will have cash on hand. Alternatively, if the payment method is online, the driver either cancels the ride or requests riders to cancel the ride and pay him in cash the amount displayed on the app.
Uber considered this and adjusted the way a driver is compensated. The ride-hailing app will now display the form of payment to drivers, indicating whether the fare will be paid in cash or whether the consumer has chosen to pay with a card or another online payment option. Also, if a driver chooses the online payment option, they will be paid daily from Monday to Thursday, and their profits will be credited to their account on Monday from Friday to Sunday.
To address the issue of drivers cancelling rides, Uber will now display the destination for drivers to determine whether or not they wish to accept the ride before accepting it, rather than cancelling it after asking the rider for their drop location. According to the corporation, the feature is already available in 20 cities and will be expanded in the following days.
In addition, Uber claims it will communicate with drivers to maintain the quality of service during the ride in order to decrease cancellations and to discourage drivers from demanding extra money for any service, such as turning on the air conditioner in the cabs. Meanwhile, in response to rising fuel prices, Uber has boosted its fares by an average of 10-15% across the country. The company would compensate drivers for taking rides that take them far from their current position, reducing the number of cancellations.
The Prodigious Ruler: Alexander III of Macedon
Greek poleis, or city-states, remained autonomous during the first half of the fourth century B.C. As each polis focused on its own needs, there were frequent conflicts and brief coalitions between opposing factions. Philip II of Macedon (northern Greece), a remarkable man, rose to power in 360 B.C. He defeated most of Macedon’s neighbours in less than a decade, including the Illyrians and Paionians to the west and northwest, and the Thracians to the north and northeast. Phillip II implemented extensive reforms both at home and abroad. His troops were at the vanguard of military technology thanks to innovations such as improved catapults and siege engines, as well as a new type of infantry equipped with a massive pike known as a sarissa.
Philip II accomplished what would be the final phase of his dominance when he became the undisputed ruler of Greece in 338 B.C. in the critical Battle of Chaeronea in Boeotia. When he was killed in 336 B.C., his ambitions for a campaign against Asia were cut short. The bright wall murals and lavish decorative arts made for the Macedonian royal court (37.11.8-.17), which had become the primary centre of Greek culture, can be seen in the royal tombs at Vergina in northern Greece.
Alexander the Great’s reign (336–323 B.C.) will forever alter the face of Europe and Asia (10.132.1; 55.11.11). He had the best education in the Macedonian court as crown prince, thanks to his illustrious tutor Aristotle. Alexander, already a charismatic and powerful leader at the age of twenty, quickly harnessed the Macedonian troops that his father’s reforms had transformed into the region’s dominant military power. He led a large army across the Hellespont in Asia in 334 B.C. It was the most formidable military expedition ever to leave Greece, with 43,000 infantry and 5,500 cavalry. Alexander, the first to set foot on Asian soil, jumped ashore, thrust a spear into the ground, and declared the continent “spear conquered.” He went on to conquer the Persian empire of western Asia and Egypt, as well as continuing into Central Asia as far as the Indus Valley, in an eleven-year war that fulfilled his claim and more.
He was eventually beaten by his own army, which refused to return to Greece. He died of fever in Babylon on the way back at the age of thirty-three. All of the regions he conquered were divided among his generals (52.127.4), and it was through these political divisions that the Hellenistic kingdoms (323–31 B.C.) arose.
So, how can we convey Alexander’s life, separating myths and legends and piecing together an actual narrative? It’s a challenging undertaking, but it’s critical, because Alexander’s tale is the story of the Greek empire, which had a significant impact on large countries spanning Europe, Asia, and Africa.
We have old Alexander biographies dating from 30 BCE to the third century CE, hundreds of years after his death. The Greek historian Diodorus wrote the first recorded account, but we also have chronicles written by other historians, including Roman historians, who are known as the Alexander historians. They deciphered written records written by men who fought beside Alexander on his campaigns shortly after his death.
However, because these accounts are combined with propaganda from numerous Greek and Roman nations ruled by emperors who utilised Alexander’s image to solidify their own power, it’s uncertain how credible they are. Historians interpret sources from other parts of Alexander the Great’s kingdom, such as Babylon, to get a more complete picture. Alexander’s death, for example, is commemorated on a Babylonian tablet with an inscription in Akkadian that says “on the 29th day, the king died.”
Rise of an Empire
The Greek poleis, or city-states, were divided after the Peloponnesian war, and much of their resources had been depleted. This prepared the scenario for a takeover by their northern neighbours, the Macedonians, whose leaders were solidifying their influence and developing strength. The Greeks considered Macedonia to be a retrograde area, useful for little more than timber and sheep grazing. The Macedonians spoke a Greek dialect and were ruled by a monarchy and many semi-autonomous clans, unlike the distinct Greek city-states. Phillip II of Macedon was one of the most powerful monarchs.
Philip II of Macedon, who reigned from 359 to 336 BCE, was an excellent monarch and military commander in his own right, despite being most known as the father of Alexander the Great. His achievements paved the way for his son’s victory over Darius III and Persia’s conquest. Philip inherited a poor, underdeveloped society with an ineffectual, undisciplined army, which he transformed into a formidable military force that eventually conquered Macedonia and most of Greece. To keep his empire safe, he utilised bribery, warfare, and threats. Alexander would have gone unnoticed in history if it hadn’t been for his foresight and determination.
After Philip was assassinated in 336 BCE, Alexander was promptly anointed king. Alexander began the big campaign his father had planned: the conquest of the powerful Persian Empire, after subduing any substantial opposition to his reign and with the Greek city-states now securely under Macedonian rule following Chaeronea.
Because of political unrest in Persia, Alexander was able to extend beyond Persia into Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Bactria. Alexander, on the other hand, did not pose a significant threat to established administrative structures. Rather, he tweaked them to fit his needs. Alexander was uninterested in forcing his own views of truth, religion, or behaviour on conquered peoples as long as they readily maintained the supply lines open to feed and equip his forces, which was a crucial part of his ability to dominate enormous territories. This does not negate his merciless suppression of uprisings or his willingness to slaughter those who opposed him.
Alexander founded around 20 settlements in his honour during his conquests, the majority of which were east of the Tigris River. The first and largest was Alexandria, Egypt, which would go on to become a major Mediterranean city. The sites of the cities reflected both commerce routes and defence positions. The towns must have been unfriendly at initially, serving only as defensive garrisons. Many Greeks who had settled in these places attempted to return to Greece after Alexander’s death. Many of these communities, however, were still thriving a century or so after Alexander’s death, with ornate public buildings and large populations that included both Greek and native peoples.
Alexander’s cities were almost certainly designed to serve as administrative centres for his empire, and were predominantly populated by Greeks, many of whom had fought in Alexander’s military conquests. These administrative centres were established to maintain authority over the newly acquired subject populations. This goal, however, was not realised during Alexander’s lifetime. In conquered territories like Persia, Alexander aimed to create a cohesive governing elite by combining captives and conquerors through marriage links. He also absorbed aspects of Persian court culture, including his own version of their royal robes and a few court rituals. Many Macedonians despised these initiatives, arguing that mixing Greek and other cultures was irresponsible. Alexander’s efforts to unite his army were likewise successful. He inserted Persian soldiers into Macedonian lines, some of whom had been trained in the Macedonian style, thus alleviating chronic personnel shortages.
With the Persian Empire firmly in his grasp, Alexander turned his focus to India in 327 BCE. Before reaching the Ganges River, which he intended to cross in order to conquer more of India, he had some successes. His tired troops, on the other hand, rebelled and refused to go any further. Alexander died in 323 BCE, likely as a result of sickness, when the troops returned home.
Alexander’s death came as such a shock that when news of his death reached Greece, it was not taken seriously. Alexander IV, Alexander’s son, was born after Alexander’s death, hence there was no obvious or rightful succession.
Alexander the Great had a long and illustrious heritage. First, his father was able to unite the Greek city-states, then Alexander was able to completely demolish the Persian Empire. More importantly, Alexander’s conquests disseminated Hellenism, or Greek culture, throughout his realm. Because of the enormous influence that Greek culture had on others, Alexander’s reign heralded the start of a new era known as the Hellenistic Age. Greek ideals and culture would have stayed limited to Greece if Alexander’s aim had not been realised.
Many historians hold a different opinion of Alexander the Great. Alexander was intelligent and attractive, but he also had a dark side. He had a terrible temper and would assassinate close advisors and even friends on the spur of the moment. In addition, near the end of his various expeditions, he slaughtered thousands of people whose only crime was getting in his way.
Was Alexander the Great really great?
Gender Disparity: The Plight of the Pakistani Women
Pakistan is the world’s third most dangerous country for women, according to a 2011 expert poll conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation Poll. It noted the over 1,000 women and girls killed in “honour killings” every year, as well as the fact that 90% of Pakistani women are victims of domestic violence.
The predicament of Pakistani women is often associated with religious persecution, but the reality is far more nuanced. In strictly patriarchal nations like Pakistan, a particular worldview is profoundly instilled. Poor and illiterate women must fight for basic rights, recognition, and respect on a daily basis. Even though these women are typically the breadwinners for their families, they must live in a culture that defines them by the male roles in their lives. In Pakistan, women’s position varies depending on their social level and geography. It is mostly determined by socioeconomic development disparities. Women’s standing has been greatly influenced by patriarchal and cultural practices. The quest for equal rights and to close socioeconomic gaps dates back to Pakistan’s founding. Fatima Jinnah, a notable leader, founded a women’s movement to combat the avaricious situation among women. Nonetheless, the country’s scenario vociferously admits the worst state of women, as well as the country’s developmental stage.
There is a reason why the impoverished are unable to educate their children; they simply cannot afford it. It’s not that they don’t want to learn; it’s just that they can’t. If you’re poor and illiterate in Pakistan, you’re just waiting for your life to expire; each day is spent trying to find the motivation to live.
“My parents tell me to leave and to work it out with Farooq as they believe a divorced daughter is a burden even though our home runs on my income. In our culture, women look best in their homes with their husbands. Parents feel weighed down when they return home. I never belonged in my own home or my husband’s home. I want a new beginning; I want to show all those people that hurt me that I can create a whole new life on my own; if not for myself, then for my children.” – Salma, age 39 ( Source: The Atlantic)
Two guys raped a mother driving her two young children on a highway after she ran out of gas a few years ago, and one of Pakistan’s most senior police officers accused her for soliciting the assault by driving at night. A storm of protest erupted, drawing national attention to gender-based violence, including attacks on transgender women.
The highway attack was one of several crimes that have re-ignited a national conversation on gender-based violence that has mainly remained reactive in nature over the years. The government passed a new anti-rape code, guaranteeing harsher punishments for perpetrators such as chemical castration and faster rape prosecutions in special courts. Similarly, the increase in violent attacks on women during COVID has prompted calls for national hotlines, shelters, legal assistance, and psychosocial care for victims. Despite how important these steps are, the country’s response still fails to go beyond reaction to prevention by addressing the causes of violence against women.
Women’s exclusion from Pakistan’s social, political, and economic institutions is a structural cause of unfairness that puts them at risk of violence. Girls and women have a literacy rate that is 22% lower than men. Women make up 49% of Pakistanis, yet they only make up roughly 22% of the labour force and receive only 18% of the country’s GDP. Only 5% of senior leadership positions in the economy are held by women. Women vote far less frequently in both rural and urban areas, and they make up barely 20% of the legislature. Women make up less than 2% of the police force, and they are disproportionately underrepresented in the country’s higher courts.
Financial dependency on dads, brothers, or husbands is a major factor of women’s vulnerability to violence. Women are assigned all household responsibilities by tradition, and they are discouraged from working outside the home. Women are excluded from both the official and informal economies by unfriendly work settings and public spaces. The few women who do work primarily operate in the informal economy, where earnings are pitiful and economic vulnerability to exogenous shocks such as the pandemic is greater. Men’s monopoly on household money and assets, combined with the assumption that women must suffer violence in order to keep the family together, makes women not only more vulnerable to violence but also unable to flee it.
The patriarchal beliefs of Pakistani society exacerbate these gender discrepancies. These ideas invariably pervade political and state institutions. The blame of the lady raped on the highway by a police official demonstrates the systemic misogyny that pervades state institutions and the political milieu. As a result, despite the fact that federal and provincial governments have passed laws prohibiting child marriage, workplace harassment, domestic violence, “honour” killings, and acid assaults against women, these laws are routinely ignored.
The Way Forward
In Pakistan, a broader shift in gender perspectives is thus critical—a goal for which the Aurat March has been rallying men and women since 2018. While the Aurat March has focused on organising individuals from marginalised groups such as low socioeconomic groups and religious minorities, it has only been held in a few cities. It has struggled to gain traction in rural areas, where gender disparities are even more pronounced.
Female empowerment is slowly but steadily gaining traction in Pakistan, thanks to piecemeal legal reforms. Every day, you’ll come across remarkable ladies. Employers who are sympathetic, as well as other women who have fared better, may provide safety and aid. Women’s empowerment is promoted by NGOs and philanthropic groups, however, not all women take advantage of these resources. They are afraid of upsetting their husbands, attracting unwelcome attention, or jeopardising their families’ honour, or they are just unaware that help is available. Many women are too uninformed to know their rights, with female literacy at 36%.
Extrajudicial Killings – A violation of rule of law
Extra-Judicial Killings in India has a long-drawn enriching history in India. Suppressing dissent at the time of the British Raj, was one of the distinct characteristics of modern-day tyranny. The deceitful and unscrupulous practice of Extra-Judicial Killings is not new in India. It traces its past to the 200 years of British authoritarian rule. Even after independence, the paradigm of extrajudicial killings was used to curb the mutinies and revolts, in states like Bengal in the 1960s and Punjab in the 1980s. Currently, the rampant use of force and resources in this process is actively exercised in Kashmir conflicts, the North-East Indian States, and Central India affected by Maoists and Naxals.
WHAT IS EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLING
The exercise of every human right and its quest for public attention is seen as a public crime in contemporary times. Extra-Judicial killings provision is one such tool of curbing insurgencies and curtailing human rights, the right of mere existence. Incepting from the roots of Retributive Justice and inadequate disciplinary actions against the police and armed forces, Extra-Judicial Killings form the fundamental ground for all kinds of encounters and custodial deaths by force.
Section 46 of the Criminal Procedure Code 1973 talks about the ExtraJudicial Killings in brief. While Sec. 46(2) clearly entails the use of force or ‘necessary means’ in case of a person resisting arrests or attempts to evade the arrest, Sec. 46(3) strictly prohibits the act of causing death to the person trying to resist. However, the last phrase of clause 3, makes the law complex. The phrase “……. who is not accused of an offence punishable with death or with imprisonment for life” makes police personnel the judge of the person’s life. Having little to no knowledge of the technicalities of intrinsic laws, the police especially in the state of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand, etc. haphazardly exercise encounters and later twist the facts at their own will.
So basically, reading and interpreting the sections together, it loosely translates that if a person who is ‘alleged to have committed a crime which entails a death or life-imprisonment punishment, and he/she resists or tries to evade arrests, then one may cause the death of the said person.
In the case of State of West Bengal v Anwar Ali Sarkar, it was held that Art. 14 applies to both substantive and procedural laws. While the legislature is allowed to pass laws for certain groups for their betterment and upliftment, the Article clearly established the fact that equal rights must be treated alike. Therefore, it must be considered that CrPC is applicable to all persons. And keeping Section 46 in retrospect, the rule automatically categorizes the accused into two divisions; the one who is not accused of a crime that constitutes a death or life imprisonment punishment and the other which does. This further implies that the person who is resisting arrests in the latter case can be shot dead by the officials. This distinction between the two is not substantial or concrete enough, that solicits the killing of the person arrested. In addition, even if the distinction somehow passes the black-white check, the fundamental purpose of CrPC, which guarantees free and fair trial to the accused and upholds the principle of natural justice, gets defeated.
Furthermore, Article 21 which guarantees life and liberty to all persons except according to the procedure of law, seems to be in clear contravention to the discipline of ExtraJudicial Killings. In the case of Maneka Gandhi v Union of India, the court held that the procedure established by law has to be reasonable, fair and non-arbitrary. In addition, Kartar Singh v State of Punjab also held that the procedure must not only be reasonable but also should fall in line with the principle of Natural Justice especially Audi Alteram Partem. The procedure must ensure that the other party must be given a chance to be sincerely heard. Principle of Natural Justice also ensues the intimation of charge, which is obviously absent at the time of cases like ExtraJudicial killings. It was also heard in the case of Nirmal Singh Kahlon v State of Punjab that the absence of free and fair trial through a sincere investigation nullifies the fundamentals of CrPC and Art. 21 as a whole. Presumption of innocence, which is the virtue of free and fair trial, gets defeated when such a license is given to the arresting authority.
From the deep analysis of the aforementioned sections, it is wise to note that unchecked powers are vested in the hands of arresting authorities. Sec 46(3) becomes the tool of venting out personal hatred or a promotion ladder. The civilians and media are also equally responsible for glorifying such encounters and encouraging the heroism culture among the public service agencies. Secondly, the political influence over police administration is an unvarnished truth which is clearly depicted in the case of the infamous controversy of Vikas Dubey’s death. Therefore, it would be appropriate for the Parliament to carry out suitable amendments in the particular section as it gives legal sanction to false killing, a power which is in absolute contravention of legal and fundamental rights.
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