Handbook on combating Gender Stereotypes

Handbook on combating Gender Stereotypes

News: Recently, the Supreme Court has issued a first-of-its-kind handbook on combating gender stereotypes.

What is the Handbook?
• The 30-page Handbook on Combating Gender Stereotypes aims to free the judiciary and the legal community from the mechanical application of gender stereotypical language in judgments, orders, and court pleadings.

What are Stereotypes?
• A stereotype is defined as “a set idea that people have about what someone or something is like, especially an idea that is wrong.” Stereotypes are typically held against individuals by virtue of their membership of a group. They are assumptions or beliefs that individuals belonging to specific social groups have certain characteristics or traits.
• For example, people in many countries believe that all Indians are good at science and mathematics.

What is the significance of this Handbook?
• The handbook aims to remove gender-based terms and assumptions from legal language, promoting fairness and impartiality.
• The handbook challenges stereotypes about women’s emotional capacity and rational thinking, emphasizing that gender does not dictate one’s ability for rational thinking.
• Using respectful language respects the dignity and rights of all individuals involved in legal proceedings.
• The handbook underscores the importance of language in legal proceedings, promoting clear and accurate communication. Language articulates consciousness, and changing words is crucial to changing thoughts. Words used in court have material power over our lives. Terms like housewife, chaste woman, or mistress carry social judgment. They paint a picture of the male as the provider, and the ‘good’ female as dependent and docile.
• The handbook empowers legal professionals to use language that upholds justice, equality, and dignity in legal proceedings.
• By encouraging the use of accurate terms, the handbook helps ensure equal treatment and justice for all individuals.
• By highlighting the significance of choosing appropriate language, the Court adds its institutional influence to the increasing worldwide recognition of the harm caused by the stereotyping that is ingrained in and sustained by language. For example, a 2020 study at Carnegie Mellon University found that the cultural stereotyping in 25 languages about women being more suited to the domestic sphere, undermined gender equity efforts in STEM careers.

• The handbook’s release reflects the Supreme Court’s commitment to promoting equitable and unbiased legal practices, reinforcing the notion that language shapes not only legal interpretations but also societal perceptions. 

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