Women must not try to be men: Cyriac Joseph

Staff Reporter

But women lawyers demand equal opportunity in judiciary

Bangalore: Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court Cyriac Joseph, speaking to an all-woman audience at the Asia Women Lawyers’ Conference on the theme ‘Women’s rights are human rights’ here on Saturday, said that it was the duty of men to “protect, maintain and respect women.”

Men have understood the “value and beauty” of womanhood, he said. The two-day conference is organised by the All India Federation of Women Lawyers (IFWL) and the IFWL Karnataka Chapter.

“In the name of empowering women, we should not create a situation where they lose their womanhood. There is a difference between males and females,” he said.

A short while earlier, State Women’s Commission Chairperson Premila Nesargi had demanded a ‘gender audit’ within the judiciary to establish the number of women on the bench at the conference. “Why is it that such few women are being elevated to the position of judges? Are we not competent?” she asked.

Mr. Cyriac Joseph, however, believed that “there was no point in women trying to be men and do all that a man is expected to do.” Cautioning women, he said, “Once you lose your womanhood, there is nothing left to be protected.” Sujata Manohar, retired Supreme Court judge, in response, assured Mr. Cyriac Joseph that “men do not appear to lose their manliness when they become judges, and so there is no reason why women would lose their womanliness.” She urged women not to settle for “tokenism”, but insist on being recognised for their competence.

There has, in recent years, been a dramatic increase in the number of women entering the legal profession, said Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan. “Women are slowly but surely claiming their place in the judiciary, and the number of women in the bench and bar has increased.” Dr. Balakrishnan added, “Lawyers are called on to act as instruments of peace and for the resolution of conflict. An equal involvement of women is essential for these larger goals of law, especially in respect to safeguarding human rights.” Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, in a speech read out by Minister for Planning, Science and Technology, Ramachandra Gowda, condemned the many forms of human rights violations that women face.

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