“Slut, harlot, seductress, fallen woman, woman of easy virtue”

“Slut, harlot, seductress, fallen woman, woman of easy virtue”

Forgive the click-bait-y title of this blog, but since you’re reading this, it obviously worked.

And now that you are here, I have some very welcome and quite astonishing news for you.

In a bid to weed out gender stereotypes, the Supreme Court of India has just compiled a glossary of words that it recommends judges and lawyers avoid.

It is all quite breath-taking: on the one hand in the hideous, patriarchal language that is apparently still in use AND, thank goodness, in the blunt, no-nonsense way the report tackles such distasteful language and attitudes.

Whilst thoroughly and loudly applauding such an initiative, it is mind-boggling to see some of the terms that are included.

Can you believe that Their Lordships actually had to recommend the junking of words like this :

“slut, harlot, seductress, fallen woman, woman of easy virtue”

The handbook is the brainchild of the Chief Justice of India Dhananjay Chandrachud, and although it is not mandatory for judges to follow the guidelines in the manual, it is a much needed breath of fresh air.

I am still in shock at the realisation that such a litany of offensive and derogatory terms was in use.

Needless to say, the majority of the terms included refer to women, and it is chilling to see such roll call of mysogynistic language.

The section on rape is hard-hitting and much-needed. If the courts view rape through the lens of the patriarchy, where can women possibly look to get justice? In a country with shocking rape statistics, the language of this document is no-nonsense and one can only hope that the (mainly) men who sit in judgement in rape cases take heed.

I applaud the Chief Justice and his team for publishing this handbook, and hope that this important document really does lead to significant changes.

Well done to the Supreme Court.


  1. Arun Diaz

    Absolutely agree with you Christine! This is a fabulous initiative by the CJI Justice Chandrachud.
    Also very perceptive of him to get 3 women Justices of various High Courts to work on this.

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