Protection, Rights, and Citizenship - Rajesh - Citation 16 New Eng J Int'l Comp L 111 2010 Content downloaded\/printed from

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WOMEN IN INDIA: ABYSMAL PROTECTION, PERIPHERAL RIGHTS AND SUBSERVIENT CITIZENSHIP ANURADHA SAIBABA RAJESH "Where women are respected, there the gods reside, the heav- ens open up and angels sing paeans ofpraise" -Manu, ancient Hindu lawgiver INTRODUCTION Opposing the Westphalian model, the advent of international human rights norms in the last half century consolidated the position and status of individuals as "actors and subjects" in law.' Notwithstanding this premise, the status of women as equal counterparts and stakeholders in all spectrums of 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 enshrined therein is gradual, sporadic, and even dismal. India is no exception to this unsatisfactory record. The domestication of the minimum standards stipu- lated in CEDAW for the protection and promotion of women's rights is a Herculean challenge. Gender inequality and injustice manifests as an ines- capable truism in the Indian context. 2 Assistant 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 my gratitude to the Editorial Team of NEJICL for their constructive feedback on the draft version of this paper. Louis B. Sohn, The New International Law: Protection of the Rights of Individuals Rather than 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. There exists a wide chasm between the de facto and de jure position of women. From cradle to grave, the violence, abuse, and exploitation that girls and women encounter, both in the private and public realms, remain unparal- leled and largely unaddressed. The reasons are multifaceted. The age old feudalistic and patriarchal underpinnings of the Indian societal, communal, and familial life have been the primordial causes for this subordinate and secondary status, as women within this framework are viewed as property of men. 3 This complex socio-cultural and legal milieu has largely thwarted the empowerment and advancement of women in India.

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