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Teach Children to Respect Women The Way They Respect Men: Nirbhaya Judge

New Delhi: Sending convicts to gallows would not be enough… rather teach your children to respect women the way they are taught to respect men – this is the message sent out loud and clear by Justice R Banumathi, who happens to be not only the lone woman judge on the three-judge bench of the Supreme Court that sent four convicts in 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape case to gallows but also the only woman judge in the top court at present.

Even as she agreed with her brother judges, Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Ashok Bhushan, in handing down capital punishment to the four convicts, the lady judge was unequivocal that neither the laws nor the punishment to offenders were adequate to bring about the radical changes in our “tradition-bound society”.

For securing a social order, she said gender justice should become a part of the school curriculam since young minds must be sensitized towards the women and be taught to respect them. Justice Banutmathi regretted that despite the progress made by the women in all fields, the respect for them was still elusive and there was a spurt in crimes against women.

“Stringent legislation and punishments alone may not be sufficient for fighting increasing crimes against women. In our tradition-bound society, certain attitudinal change and change in the mind-set is needed to respect women and to ensure gender justice. Right from childhood years’ children ought to be sensitised to respect women. A child should be taught to respect women in the society in the same way as he is taught to respect men,” asserted the judge.

She added that issues of women’s rights were issues of human rights, for crimes against women not only affected women’s self-esteem and dignity but also degraded the pace of societal development. Justice Banumathi said that there was a duty cast upon the parents as well as teachers to keep a watch on the behavioural pattern of the children so as to make them gender-sensitized.

The educational institutions, Government institutions, the employers and all concerned must take steps to create awareness with regard to gender sensitization and to respect women.
Sensitization of the public on gender justice through TV, media and press should be welcomed,” said the judge adding police should be on its toes always to ward off any untoward incidents.

“Apart from effective implementation of the various legislation protecting women, change in the mind- set of the society at large and creating awareness in the public on gender justice, would go a long way to combat violence against women,” held Justice Banumathi.

While she awarded death sentence to all four because the question of any other punishment was “unquestionably foreclosed” in the wake of their horrific acts, the judge said that Nirbhaya’s should be a case that could perhaps lead to a mass movement of sorts for securing respect for women and their dignity.

“We have a responsibility to set good values and guidance for posterity. Public at large, in particular men, are to be sensitized on gender justice. Every individual, irrespective of his/her gender must be willing to assume the responsibility in fight for gender justice and also awaken public opinion on gender justice,” appealed Justice Banumathi.

She also invoked Swami Vivekananda, who said: “The best thermometer to the progress of a nation is its treatment of its women.”

“I hope that this gruesome incident in the capital and death of this young woman will be an eye-opener for a mass movement to end violence against women and respect for women and her dignity and sensitizing public at large on gender justice…we hope that this incident will pave the way for the same,” concluded Justice Banumathi in her separately authored 114-page judgment.

First Published: May 5, 2017, 8:52 PM IST