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Case Study -14 : Pilgrimage Centre versus Women Right

  • 11 Jan 2019
  • 4 min read

You are a senior forest official who has recently been posted in a forest range which has a wildlife sanctuary and pilgrimage center of local hill tribes. The sanctuary is a famous trekking site, but is open only for males as the local tribal culture doesn’t permit the entry of women to the hill site housing their deity.
Recently, the State High Court has lifted this unofficial ban on women following which there has been pressure from women's’ group to open the trekking site for all, while the local tribal group opposes the same. You fear that opening the site might lead to protest from tribals, compromising law and order situation and endanger the safety of trekkers to the site.

  1. What are the options open to you in this scenario? Discuss along with their merits and demerits?
  2. Which would be the most appropriate action that you would take in this situation and why?

Answer

The above case study reflects the following ethical dilemma:

  • Community interest vs Gender parity.
  • Freedom of religion vs Right to equality.

1. In this scenario the options that can be taken

Option 1: Ignore the High court order

Merit:

  • Status quo will lead to stable law and order situation.
  • Sanctity of religious sentiments of tribals can be maintained.

Demerit:

  • It will lead to Contempt of court.
  • It will endorse the patriarchal mindset, that activities like trekking are masculine exercise.

Option 2: Try to persuade the tribals by myself.

Merit:

  • It will uphold Tribal's right to decide themselves about their choice of settlement.

Demerit:

  • This option has very little chance to succeed, as the tribals are living with this religious narrative since ages.

Option 3: Implement the order, if tribals get violent, then the help of force should be taken

Merit:

  • It will implement the court's order and upheld the principle of gender equality.

Demerit:

  • It is against Teleological ethics as unethical means are used to lead to the desired end.
  • By making Tribals submit to the judicial process which they did not consent to is a broader injustice.

2. The course of action

Since it is a social issue, the mere legal solution is not enough, it requires emotional intelligence.

  • Steps that should be taken:
    • Involve civil society to undertake trust-building measures with the community.
    • Aware tribals about the law of the land, which guarantee gender equality
    • Police and other forces must be held on standby to avoid any escalation of the conflict.
    • Extension for executing the court's order can be asked, so that issue can be resolved amicably.
  • However, Patriarchal attitudes cannot be changed overnight. therefore:
    • Few Tribal leaders can be roped in for a campaign strategy for creating awareness.
      • This would persuade people because the source of the message will have more credibility than district administration.
    • Tribals should be educated about gender parity.

Community interest and Individual freedom should be balanced, but the human right to dignity cannot be compromised. This can be achieved through a socio-political movement which will raise the consciousness of the masses against the menace of patriarchy while maintaining the sanctity of tribal culture.

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