10 Cases In India & Around The World In 2020 That Show Gender Equality Is A Far Cry

newsmakers 2020, 2020 violence against women

Every single year we witness a hoard of ‘humanists and equalists’ levying arguments against feminism. Across social media, we are mansplained about how we need to advocate advancements on basis of merit and not gender. Have we forgotten that for centuries women didn’t have rights, a voice or opportunities? One would think the narrative would have changed, and yet 2020 has been a painful reminder of how gender equality remains a distant dream, not just in India, but globally.

 Here are 10 cases from India and around the world this year which show that gender equality is anything, but reality:

The Shadow Pandemic

There was an exponential rise in the reported cases of domestic violence against women during COVID-19 induced lockdown.

In South America, emergency calls for domestic violence cases in Argentina increased by 25 percent since the lockdown began. Helplines in Singapore and Cyprus registered a rise in calls of more than 30 per cent. In the USA, the National Domestic Violence Hotline reported a rising number of victims who reached out. In India, over 30 percent women suffered physical and sexual violence by their spouses in five out of 22 surveyed states and Union territories in the country.

Evidence shows that, even before the pandemic, one in three women has experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. The pandemic aggravated incidents of domestic violence of mental, physical and sexual nature.

Also Read: You Can Use This Domestic Abuse Hand Signal To Alert Others

Sexist Remarks Against Indian Female Politicians

A lot of sexist remarks have been passed against female politicians in India from time and again. This year, the two most highlighted incidents are the derogatory comments on Sonia Gandhi and Imarti Devi.

After a menacing tirade by Arnab Goswami against Sonia Gandhi, the trolls didn’t leave a chance to insult and abuse on social media. From addressing her with her maiden name in belittling manner to trending #bardancer hashtag on Twitter, the social media reeked of sheer toxicity and misogyny owing to the slander campaign against her. In fact, on December 9, when leaders from across the political spectrum wished her on her 74th birthday, Twitter was blowing up with derogatory comments and jokes on her, with #BarDancerDay trending all day.

Similarly, Kamal Nath, former CM of Madhya Pradesh passed sexist remarks on Imarti Devi, the BJP leader from the state in a public gathering. “Wo kya hai… main uska naam kyun lun… aapko mujhe satark karna chahiye tha… kya item hai… (Who is she… What’s her name? You all should have warned me… what an item!),” Kamal Nath said.

This led to an outrage over his remarks, but Kamal Nath was hell-bent on not apologising for his comments. He argued that he didn’t say anything disrespectful and his words were taken out of context.

Also Read: Sonia Gandhi Won’t Celebrate Her Birthday This Year In View Of Farmers’ Protests, COVID-19 Situation: Report

Rape threats to Ziva Dhoni

After the defeat of Chennai Super Kings in a match with Kolkata Knight Riders in the thirteenth edition of IPL, the trolls bombarded Mahendra Singh Dhoni with abuses. Shockingly, an user issued rape threats against his five-year-old daughter Ziva Dhoni on social media.

Later, it was found that the user was a 16-year-old boy from Gujarat. He was arrested by the Gujarat Police and then sent to Ranchi for further interrogation. The minor confessed to have posted the threats due to the defeat of Dhoni’s team in IPL 2020.

The minor was kept in a child rehabilitation center during the interrogation. Similar incidents have been reported in the past, where the women and girls related to the cricketers are targeted and trolled for their weak performance in the matches. Anushka Sharma has had her share of trolls when Virat Kohli failed to play well. Moreover, a minor threatening a five-year-old with rape to let his frustration out speaks a lot about all-pervasive misogyny, where a toddler is dragged into such issues which have nothing to do with her.

Also Read: Dhoni’s Little Daughter Gets Rape Threats For His Poor Performance. Is India A Country For Women?

Dubai princess Sheikha Latifa is still held captive by her father

The princess of Dubai Sheikha Latifa has been held captive by her father, Mohammed Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and the Vice President of UAE. She attempted twice to escape from Dubai in order to lead a freer life without harsh restrictions, which she couldn’t because of her family.

In her second attempt of escape in 2008, she was caught and sent back to Dubai. She hasn’t been seen and heard after her capture. Media and human rights organisations raised their voices against this unlawful captivity by her father, and also alleged torture. All because she wanted to exercise her right to freedom and choice.

#freelatifa is an active campaign devoted to free the princess from the imprisonment by her father. Recently, UN released a statement condemning the unjust capture of Sheikha Latifa and asked the ruler of Dubai to release her.

Also Read: Sheikha Latifa, The Dubai Princess Abducted By Her Father

Hathras Rape Incident

Coming back to our very own country now. The rampant physical and sexual violence against women puts every Indian to shame. The gaping wound of Hathras incident in Uttar Pradesh in our minds is still fresh. It threw the harsh and inhuman realities of gender and caste-based atrocities in the country in our faces.

A Dalit girl died after reporting that she was gang-raped and brutally assaulted by four upper caste men. This heinous act was most likely a revenge by them, due to the feud with the family of the girl. Her family also reported harassment on grounds of caste.

This incident caught worldwide attention for a number of reasons. From the police and some media houses denying the fact that the rape happened to associations of savarna castes supporting the accused, this case highlighted the plight of people from lower castes. Not to forget how the police cremated the body without her family’s permission at night, reflecting how they are denied the right to dignity even after death.

Moreover, it is statistically evident that Dalit women are more vulnerable to sexual violence than savarna women. On average, 10 Dalit women were raped every day in India last year, according to official figures, and Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of cases of violence against women of any state.

Also Read: Is It Fair To Compare Hathras To Nirbhaya For Political Vendetta?

Statements of Markandey Katju and Mukesh Khanna

Amidst the Hathras incident, former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju received thunderous backlash for his insensitive comments. Katju blamed the rising unemployment for the increase in rape incidents and how sex is a ‘natural urge in men’. He was slammed for perpetuating rape culture with his statement. Furthermore, he was thrashed for shifting the blame from the rapists to economic problems and reducing women to objects for sexual gratification.

After a few months, renowned actor Mukesh Khanna received criticism for his comments on working women. In an interview, he stated, “Men and women are different. Both of them are different in terms of their creation. Women’s domain is to take care of household chores. The issue of MeToo began when women started working outside the house. Today, women talk about working shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts.”

Also Read: Mukesh Khanna’s Remark On #MeToo Tells Us Why Gender Equality Is Still A Distant Dream

Loujain Al-Hathloul’s trial began in ‘terrorism court’

On December 10, Saudi women’s activist Loujain al-Hathloul was put on closed trial in ‘terrorism court’ after two years of imprisonment. She is one of the important faces of the Saudi women’s rights activism in the country, especially right to drive. Moreover, she is an ardent dissenter who opposes the male-guardianship system in Saudi Arabia. Loujain was arrested along with various other campaigners on the charges of “undermining the kingdom’s security, stability and national unity,” as reported by Saudi Press Agency.

United Nations Organisation and other human rights organisations have firmly called for the release of all the activists arrested for demanding their rights. “We are extremely alarmed to hear that Ms al-Hathloul has been in detention for more than two years on spurious charges, is now being tried by a Specialized Terrorism Court. Just because she was exercising her fundamental rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association” said Elizabeth Broderick, chair of the UN working group on discrimination against women and girls, in a statement. Furthermore, the organisations have alleged torture of her in prison.

Also Read: Saudi Feminist Political Prisoner Loujain Al-Hathloul’s Trial Begins

Iran Government sentencing an influencer to jail for 10 years

In Iran, Fatemeh Khisvand, who was popular as zombie Angelina Jolie, has been sentenced to jail for 10 years. A report in Guardian report stated that the 19-year-old was accused of corruption of youngsters and irreverence for the Islamic Republic. Other charges include “blasphemy, inciting violence, gaining income through inappropriate means and encouraging youths to corruption.”

Fatemeh stated, “The Islamic Republic has a history of tormenting women. We need to be united against this gender apartheid.” Sahar was sentenced to 10 years in October 2019, although she was in news in 2020.

Also Read: Iranian Instagrammer Popularly Known As ‘Zombie Angelina Jolie’ Jailed For Ten Years

Rise in Egypt’s moral policing of women

An Egyptian court sentenced five women to jail and a hefty fine for ‘violating public morals’ on Tiktok and other social media platforms. Egypt has cracked down in recent years on female singers and dancers for online content deemed too racy or suggestive.

Haneen Hossam, a 20-year-old student from Cairo, was charged over encouraging young women to meet men through a video app and explore friendships, receiving a fee according to the number of followers watching these chats. Mawada al-Adham, a TikTok and Instagram influencer with around 2 million followers, was accused of posting indecent photos and videos on social media.

The three other women were charged with helping Hossam and Al-Adham manage their social media accounts, according to the public prosecution.

Also Read: 10 Things To Know About Egyptian Model Salma al-Shimi’s Arrest Over An “Offensive” Photoshoot

Rise in Gender Inequality due to Covid -19

Even a pandemic is sexist in nature, why? This is because women are facing the brunt of economic collapse more than men. The report COVID-19 and gender equality: Countering the regressive effects  by McKinsey Global Institute, estimates that women make up almost two-fifths of the global labour force but have suffered more than half of total job losses from the crisis. That’s left them 1.8 times more vulnerable to the pandemic’s impact than men.

The rise is mostly due to the increase in the burden of unpaid care for children, the elderly and sick. This task has mostly been taken up by women. Moreover, existing gender inequalities exacerbate this situation. Apart from this, more women are getting demoted and salary cuts than their male counterparts.

In underprivileged households, many families are getting their daughters married off due to increasing financial difficulties due to the pandemic. Many young girls have been forced to drop out of schools for financial problems and digital divide. Also, many basic amenities like menstrual hygiene products have become inaccessible to many girls.

Also Read: COVID-19 Pandemic: The Year Of Survival For Women Entrepreneurs

Sugandha Bora is an intern with SheThePeople.