2018 Rewind – The Landmark Changes

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2018 has been a roller coaster ride for the oppressed and the oppressor, for the helpless and the powerful and for the campaigners and the bashers. From marital rape to homosexuality to #metoo we have come a long way. Let us have a look at some of the most important events that India witnessed this year.

 

The tax is gone, now it’s just the taboo

The sanitary pads were taxed at 12% under the GST which was launched in July 2017. The decision triggered protests, petitions and court cases that questioned why the government taxed pads as a luxury rather than an essential item, such as condoms, which are tax-free. Last year, lawmaker Sushmita Dev launched a petition to demand a reduction or total removal of taxes on pads, citing that about 70% of the women in the country could not afford them. The government finally scrapped the controversial 12% GST on sanitary pads after a year-long opposition by campaigners. The health of your period is a basic human right, no one should pay for that. Women shouldn’t be taxed with something they are born with. The government’s decision to exempt a basic hygiene product like the sanitary napkin from GST is a very big win for everyone across the country.

Design credits: Pratiksha Radia (Team Womenite)

 

Women no more properties of their husbands

In the face of all those Men Rights Activists who believed that the adultery laws in India were biased against men and gave women the “power to cheat” on their husbands with no repercussions, the Supreme Court rightly observed that the adultery laws in fact violated “Equality before the law” and treated women as properties of their husbands. Also, it’s funny how some people still think that the court is biased towards women and that’s why the SC has decriminalized adultery instead of punishing women for the same offence. However, not even one of them has come forward and argued that the criminalization of adultery should be in place because women should also be given an equal right to file an adultery suit against her cheating husband. Hypocrisy much?

The decriminalization of adultery also points towards the fact that “sanctimonious marriages” should not need laws to keep them in place. Fear of law should not be any deterrent to infidelity. Adultery is not a cause of bad marriage, rather a consequence of it. If you don’t trust yourself or your spouse enough to be faithful, you are in a questionable marriage. The courts have more important business to heed to rather than punishing people for toxic marriages.

Design credits: Cidhanti (Team Womenite)

 

Same-sex intercourse, no longer criminal

The decriminalization of homosexuality was yet another landmark judgment that proved that we as a society need to grow up and not poke our nose into what two consenting adults do with each other within their four walls. The court advocated that LGBT community possesses human rights like all other sections of society. Equality is the essence of the constitution and 377 is arbitrary. A person’s sexuality is not unnatural, but a part of their personality. No person should suffer from the shrouds of disdain for their sexual preferences. However, as of now, only so-called “unnatural” sex within the same sex is decriminalized. It is just the beginning to a long battle where homosexuals are happily accepted and treated as equals and same-sex marriages are not frowned upon.

Design credits: Pratiksha Radia (Team Womenite)

 

Women can now Enter Sabarimala

Another judgment that upheld the fact that “devotion should not be subjected to discrimination”. In India, on one hand, we consider women as pure and sacred goddesses while on the other hand, we see them as obnoxious and vile vamps who would break the oath of celibacy of a God. And because of this, women in the reproductive age group were not allowed in the Sabarimala temple – to keep the Lord Ayyapa celibate. This itself was a disrespect to the God whom we are reducing to our own humanly limitations. On top of that, putting the burden of celibacy of a God on women by restricting their entry showed the inherent discrimination against women in supposedly the most liberal religion that worships female gods. Stripping the religion of its bigotry definitely helped in uplifting the common consciousness of people. However, considering the mass unrest at Sabarimala over the entry of women, there is still a long way to go.

Design credits: Rishab Agarwal (Team Womenite)

 

Triple Talaq Bill

The long-pending amendment to Muslim Women Bill, 2018, which criminalizes Triple Talaq, was passed in the Lok Sabha with 245 MPs in favour of the bill, 11 being against it. Triple Talaq was the practice of a Muslim man instantly divorcing his wife by pronouncing the word “Talaq” thrice. Since 2016, the said practice had come under a lot of scrutinies for being regressive and violating “Equality before the Law”. The Supreme Court itself had described instant triple talaq as the “worst form of marriage dissolution”. Though the patriarchal AIMPLB views it as a weapon to penalize men, essentially, it is a provision to empower helpless Muslim women. The bill proposes that instant Triple Talaq will be illegal and void and will attract a jail term of three years for the husband. Though the bill is being tainted as “he vs she” and “Hindu vs Muslim”, in reality, it is a much-needed reform to uphold the rights and dignity of Muslim women.

Design credits: Rishab Agarwal (Team Womenite)

Article by: Arushi

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