Delhi HC judge’s praise for ‘Manusmriti’ for giving ‘respectable position’ to women draws heavy criticism
New Delhi: On Wednesday, Judge Prathiba M. Singh of the Delhi High Court, at an event organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), said that Indian scriptures like Manusmriti give a “very respectable position” to women.
According Bar and Bench, she said, “I really think we are a lot of blessed women in India and the reason is that our scriptures have always given a very respectable position to women and as Manusmriti himself says, if you do not respect and don’t honor women, all the way pooja you can do makes no sense. So I think our ancestors and the Vedic scriptures knew very well how to respect women.”
Ironically, she was asked to speak about the challenges or “invisible barriers” women face in our country today in science, technology, entrepreneurship and math (STEM).
Judge Singh has drawn criticism from various individuals and organizations. The All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) in a press statement strongly opposed her statement praising Manusmriti to give a very respectable position to women.
“First of all, the actual quote from Manusmriti is that ‘the gods dwell in such places where women are held in honour’. One can give at least ten other quotes from the same text where women are described as untrustworthy and completely driven by sexual passions and who must be prevented from acting independently, where it is prescribed that they can be replaced if they have no male children, where children born of a woman cohabiting with a man of a so-called “excluded” caste would necessarily be subject to an “even greater exclusion”. Manusmriti is not even a “Vedic text” as the learned judge puts it, but a compilation made at a particular historical moment for the specific purpose of strengthening and spreading Brahmanical hegemony It is deplorable that the learned judge overlooked her essential contradiction with the Indian Constitution and the Indian legal system to which she was sworn to obey and which allowed her to occupy his current honored position,” the statement read.
The women’s organization added that the judge also seemed to have forgotten that India is a country of many beliefs and that by “describing Manusmriti as “our scriptures”, it adopts a divisive majority position and alienates large sections of the Indian people who are united to each other only by the secular democratic Constitution and for whom Manusmriti has no meaning.
“As a public figure representing justice for all, she certainly cannot afford to do this. This is particularly deplorable in a situation where almost every day we hear politicians and representatives of the people of the ruling party making atrocious statements insulting women, insulting the so-called “lower castes” and religious minorities and sanctioning violence against against them. If even someone in the justice system adopts a biased attitude like she did, it will increase the insecurity of the aforementioned sections. the statement reads below.
AIDWA believes that as a woman, people expect better wisdom from women judges and also urged her to withdraw her words.