The Supreme Court of India released a handbook on countering gender stereotypes on Wednesday for judges to avoid using inappropriate gender terms in court orders and legal documents. Apart from mentioning over a hundred stereotypical terms, the handbook offers alternatives that would help combat gender stereotypes in society, one step at a time.
The Chief Justice of India, DY Chandrachud, revealed that the handbook identified stereotypes unwittingly used in courts. He said that such words have been listed out so that it’ll help judges avoid stereotyping by recognising language that leads to such stereotypes.
He added that the handbook has been launched to ensure that the usage of such words and terms is avoided by judges in the future and not to cast any aspiration on such judgements or the judges who delivered those verdicts.
The CJI further disclosed that the manual and tutorial e-file have been uploaded to the Supreme Court’s website, and the handbook will be released soon.
Handbook To Combat Gender Stereotypes
Terms such as "housewife," "career woman," "child prostitute," "unwed mother," "provocative clothing," etc. reek of stereotypes but are unfortunately commonly used both in courts and in day-to-day life. However, they are determinantal as they reiterate the gender stereotypes existing in society. So the Supreme Court coming up with this handbook is a welcome move towards creating positive change.
For instance, the handbook recommends alternate terms such as "clothing" instead of "provocative clothes," "homemaker" instead of "housewife," "mother" instead of "unwed mother," "sex worker" instead of "prostitute," "woman" instead of "career woman," and so on and so forth.
Why Is It A Welcome Move?
While a married man, regardless of whether he is employed or not, is still referred to as a man, a married and unemployed woman is called a housewife. The very term confining her into the four walls of home Thus, the handbook insists on using the term homemaker instead because unemployed married women work 24 hours a day inside the house to make it a home.
Likewise, while a working man is just called a man, why should a working woman be called a "career woman?" Isn’t that emphasising stereotypical gender roles? No clothing is exclusively provocative," unless a person sees it that way, so the handbook recommends the usage of "clothes" instead of "provocative clothes." Married or not, a mother is still a mother, so why call her an "unwed mother"? The handbook also insists on the use of "transgender" instead of transsexual" and touches upon other stereotypical words that are detrimental to the LGBTQIA+ community.
The handbook is a refreshing take, as it lists out over a hundred stereotypical terms and suggests alternative words for them. The terms definitely aim to combat gender stereotypes and promote inclusivity in society. Beginning with the judiciary is a good start, considering that all the advancements that we have today began with the law and constitution. These words will help gradually change the narrative of the language used in society.
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