ARE we living in 2022, a modernized era? Do we have any rights for a woman to be successful at her own? No. We aren’t living into a modish society because the society is still being controlled by the male dominancy mindset.
Similarly, in the field of law, where people fight for justice, a woman is always discriminated.
Despite the facts that she is acting as a judge trying to provide justice to the people or a solicitor fighting for other’s rights, her rights are always been victimized.
As per the published data in 2016 by the American Bar Association’s Market Research Department the number of women practising into the legal field was just 36% however with the course of time this ratio increased but still it is way too strenuous to get the senior positions.
Nonetheless, the stumbling blocks of an uncomfortable law firm environments for female solicitors also leave an impact of the masculinity.
“Female solicitors have always got to be stopped by traditional sexual stereotypes/gender discrimination which is a result of the equal ratio of feminine practitioners, not only by the male colleagues but also the clients who create assumptions about the female solicitors based on the gender.
Inflexible work structure (ie, flexible for male advocates only) is another hurdle that makes the female thinks a hundred times to continue their litigation for the reason that not all women can remain accessible 24/7” says Deborah Rhode, Ernest W.
McFarland Professor of Law, Stanford University (California). Female solicitors were interviewed about the obstacles that did not let them get better opportunities or make them drop the profession.
Because of the being a Male Dominant Profession, many girls did not get the opportunity to go to the Law Schools but luckily not all female face the same, some of them graduate from the Law schools but only a few can practice litigation.
The major hindrance being a female solicitor is the inexorable working schedule. In most of the law firms the male associates take break after the court and return to the work late, however, the associates are supposed to stay at work till late which has become a norm.
Unlike the man, females do not have anyone to take care of their house, especially when it comes to their child or their old aged parents or in-laws.
Besides, as per the perspective of this male dominant society, woman’s primary role is being a mother, daughter, Daughter in law or a wife, career has always been kept as a secondary choice.
And most of the time to perform their primary responsibilities they have to exit their profession.
Meanwhile, the process exiting and re-entering ceases their opportunities of promotions, better working opportunities and professional growth.
Before, ‘The Legal Practitioners’ (Women) Act, 1923’ the extensiveness of male dominancy was that the female solicitors were refused to be heard before the High Court of Kolkata and Patna.
But till the date the distinction between the male and female solicitors is obtrusive because of the fact that likewise the society the field of law is still a Masculine Vocation and the prime example of such situation is Pakistan where women reportedly account for only 17% of judges overall and just under 4.4% in the high courts,” HRCP stated.
Till December, 2021 Pakistan was the only country having no history of a female judge in Supreme Court, meantime, all the countries in South Asia are carrying a history of female judges in their Supreme Court.
But In January, 2022 Justice Ayesha Malik was all set to take her oath as a Supreme Court judge who has been serving as a Lahore high court justice which was a history changing step toward the gender discrimination in the field of Law.
Nonetheless, this decision was also opposed by saying that ‘appointment of a female judge is an explicit violation of the seniority’.
And that is how the male dominant mindsets are victimizing the feminine in the same field just to satisfy their ego but yet their so-called ego failed to let the women down.
In 1981, the first woman to be appointed as an anti-corruption judge, Khalida Rashid Khan, was elevated to the High Court in 2003 and strike the gender inequality.
This too was challenged before the Federal Shariat Court in 1982 and 2010, but both petitions were dismissed.
As per the records, 102 female lawyers are registered in the Supreme Court but 0 females as a member of Pakistan Bar Council, another gender discrimination.
On the other hand, there has been no feminine acting as a Federal or Provincial Law minister or Attorney General, meanwhile, the first ever Female Attorney General for Punjab was removed from her office after a month.
Likewise, The District Bar Association Islamabad and the High Court Bar Association Islamabad have a number of 842 women but yet there has been no history of a woman serving as a President.
The High Court Bar Association has the same history. But In 2022, Miss Shazia Amel Kasi, A woman breaking the stereotypes of the male dominant profession became the first ever Female Vice-President of High Court Bar Association.
As per the Interviews, the big names of the profession do not allow their women to become a part of this field.
Rather than a welcoming behaviour they always say “this profession is not for women”.
Since ages, a profession, which protects the law from being violated by the people, is itself violating the law.
Toxic masculinity is an explicit violation of Article 25 of the Constitution of Pakistan which states that “there shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex”, And Section 29 of the Legal Practitioners’ and Bar Council Act, 1973 i.e., “No woman shall be disqualified for admission on the basis of her sex”.
It is also been constrained by the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to corroborate women’s brimful engagement in public life.
Such laws are not being violated by the judges or lawyers but also been violated by the clients, when it comes between choosing a competent male advocate or a female attorney, male dominancy always overcomes females’ expertise.
Violation of law continues when it comes to the workplace harassment. Female lawyers are not stranger to the sexual or verbal harassment by their colleagues, seniors, judges.
The male advocates play at their best making a female uncomfortable in the courts or offices by the way they stare or the comments made on their physical appearance or sometimes by taking unwanted physical advantages which have never been recorded.
Such is the outcome of the highly un-implementation of Section 509 of the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860 and the Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act, 2010.
Cases are been fought on the same but there is no implementation when it comes to the sentinels of the law.
Source: Pakistan Observer (Editorial) (writer: By Alveena S Noonari)