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WOMEN IN INDIA: ABYSMAL PROTECTION,PERIPHERAL RIGHTS AND SUBSERVIENTCITIZENSHIPANURADHA SAIBABA RAJESH"Where women are respected, there the gods reside, the heav-ens open up and angels sing paeans ofpraise"-Manu, ancient Hindu lawgiverINTRODUCTIONOpposing the Westphalian model, the advent of international humanrights norms in the last half century consolidated the position and status ofindividuals as "actors and subjects" in law.' Notwithstanding this premise,the status of women as equal counterparts and stakeholders in all spectrumsof life is largely a mirage. Despite the flurry of ratifications that the Con-vention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women(CEDAW) received, the domestic incorporation of the provisions enshrinedtherein is gradual, sporadic, and even dismal. India is no exception to thisunsatisfactory record. The domestication of the minimum standards stipu-lated in CEDAW for the protection and promotion of women's rights is aHerculean challenge. Gender inequality and injustice manifests as an ines-capable truism in the Indian context.2Assistant Professor of Law at the National Law School of India University in Bangalore,India. The author takes sole and full responsibility of the views expressed in this arti-cle. Comments can be emailed at [email protected]I would like express mygratitude to the Editorial Team of NEJICL for their constructive feedback on the draftversion of this paper.Louis B. Sohn, The New International Law: Protection of the Rights of Individuals Ratherthan States, 32 AM. U. L. REv. 1, 1 (1982).2 Eileen Kaufman, Women and Law: A Comparative Analysis of the United States and In-111
NEWENG. J OF INT'L & COMP. L.The status of women in India is both poignant and paradoxical. Thereexists a wide chasm between the de facto and de jure position of women.From cradle to grave, the violence, abuse, and exploitation that girls andwomen encounter, both in the private and public realms, remain unparal-leled and largely unaddressed. The reasons are multifaceted. The age oldfeudalistic and patriarchal underpinnings of the Indian societal, communal,and familial life have been the primordial causes for this subordinate andsecondary status, as women within this framework are viewed as propertyof men.3 This complex socio-cultural and legal milieu has largely thwartedthe empowerment and advancement of women in India.