The Indian constitution guarantees equal rights for all born in this world’s largest democracy. Dr. B.R Abmedkar is the father of the Indian constitution who drafted it. It is embedded in its core values to give fair Indian law for all citizens in its sovereign, secular, environment to all its citizens and very importantly justice, equality, and fraternity for all. Look at India’s population, women exist at 65.2 crore and men are at 69.6 crores. Out of which how many of these women even know such rights exist for them. It is here which is just a small attempt to focus on creating awareness for women and her rights in the form of various laws in this free nation.
Friedrich Engels in his classical writing “Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State” published in 1884 discussed that “Woman was the first human being that tasted bondage. Woman was a slave before slavery existed”
In his work, he has examined the effects of capitalism in all spheres of life. Engels is particularly keen to show that the subjugated position of women under capitalism was not something that was always true. This new world would bring with it the emancipation of women. Only when women are able to take a full part in production within society will they truly hold an equal position in society – in other words, when women are free to do what they want, because of socialised childcare, because of full access to abortion and contraception and because they are not held back by artificial social constructs like the family under capitalism.
Engels work is still inspirational if a little complex at times.
FREE NATION OF 71 YEARS
71 years of freedom India still is in clutches of patriarchal norms. Women here are still campaigning for basic rights both embedded in the Indian constitution as well as the human rights. In India; the constitutionally guaranteed laws as equality for women is juxtaposed with the harsh societal reality. The first leader of this free country, Pandit Nehru said “You can tell the condition of a nation by looking at the status of its women”. Unfortunately the status of women is quite degraded or can be said it is out of the Varna model which defines the caste status. Women in India suffer from multiple blows. To begin with the some of the challenges: it’s the opportunity to be born, then health & nutrition, education, caste, religions, job, sexual exploitation in all domains of her life.
First thing in the morning you just give two minutes to the newspaper you will just come across million ways of gender crimes. By each passing year, the level of crime just becomes horrific. Candle marches, demonstrations, protests, national debate, getting abusive, chappal (shoe) throwing ….are these the only democratic means to achieve safety for women???
The very recent would be the #Me Too movement which started in the digital world but is having ripple effects in all forms of possible medium to communicate across nations. #Me Too is giving a voice to the women who have been repeatedly crushed by powerful men in different fields as Hollywood, Politics, Sports, publications, Media etc.
In this side of the Indian subcontinent, #MeToo has still remained just a digital affair or only verbal accusations. India still suffers from an age-old extreme form of patriarchy. Voicing out here means a death to your career or lose your credibility. Its been almost 2 months of this #MeToo movement and not enough has been debated or dealt with in this biggest democratic Indian nation.Women are still scared to voice out and fight this unending battle of sexual harassment. No successful women have come up with their stories.Bollywood just remains a site with accusations from strugglers hence the biggies are always let scot-free with all the power and luxuries to their side. There haven’t been enough cases where the predator have been punished by the Indian law.
The only ray of hope lies in the Indian courts. As per a very Indian saying ” I will see you in court” can equip the woman to punish her perpetrator.
Protecting Women Rights by The Indian Judiciary Our Apex Court dealt with issues of women by keeping the principles of gender justice as a paramount consideration, be that may be of violence against her or with regard to gender injustice in society. In this free democratic nation, law does exist but does not have enough powers to bring the criminals to be booked lawfully. As women, we need to train our minds and body equally to be aware of the Indian law in order to live a peaceful dignified life both in private or public space.
Knowing the circumstances that we are in, we give you, once more, a review of some imperative legitimate lawful rights for our Indian women in the wave of #MeToo that each one must know about, practice and preach out aloud.
Exercise your entitlement to free lawful guide. As per Indian law, a victim has a right to free legal assistance in cases of sexual harassment. Regularly, women go to the police headquarters unaccompanied by an attorney to get their issue recorded, and they stand the danger of being misquoted or their lines being messed with. The police may likewise treat the whole scene daintily and not hold up an FIR. In this way, it is important to have a legal counselor (expert) with you while you file up the FIR. As per a Delhi High Court administering, at whatever point a rape is accounted for, the SHO needs to convey this to the notice of the Delhi Legal Services Authority. The lawful body at that point orchestrates an attorney for the casualty,” says Saumya Bhaumik, women rights legal advisor.
- Right to protection while recording statement
Under section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, a woman who has been sexually assaulted can record her statement before the dist. officer when the case is under trial, and nobody else should be available. On the other hand, she can record the statement with just a single cop and lady constable in a complacent space that isn’t swarmed by media or public and does not give any probability of the statement being caught by a fourth individual. The cops need to, by law, upkeep the women’s entitlement to protection/privacy. It’s imperative for the individual to feel safe and not be under any sort of stress while giving the account of her ordeal.
- Time doesn’t make a difference
The police can’t decline to enlist an FIR regardless of the possibility that a long timeframe has slipped by since the occurrence of assault or attack occurred. On the off chance that the police reveals to you that they can’t hold up your FIR since you didn’t report it prior, don’t surrender. “Assault is a frightening occurrence for any women, so it’s normal for her to go into trauma and not have any desire to report it promptly. She may likewise fear for her security and the notoriety and poise of her family. Consequently, the Supreme Court has decided that the police must enroll an FIR regardless of the possibility that there has been a cranny between the report and the event of the episode,” says Tariq Abeed, advocate, Supreme Court.
- Digital Deliverance
As per the rule issued by the Delhi Police, a woman has the benefit of lodging a complaint by email or enlisted post. On the off chance that, for reasons unknown, women can’t go to the police headquarters, she can send a composed letter through an email or registered post tended to on a senior cop of the level of Deputy Commissioner or Commissioner of Police. The officer at that point coordinates the SHO of the police headquarters, of the territory where the occurrence happened, to direct appropriate check of the complainant and cabin an FIR. The police would then be able to approach the home of the casualty to take her announcement.
- Zero FIR administering
A rape casualty can log her police complaint from any police headquarters under the Zero FIR managing by Supreme Court. “In some cases, the police headquarters under which the occurrence happens declines to file the casualty’s grievance so that they stay away from the obligation, and tries sending the casualty to another police headquarters. It’s like passing the buck elsewhere. In such cases, she should be aware of this law that she has the privilege to hold up an FIR at any police headquarters in the city under the Zero FIR administering. The senior officer will then direct the SHO of the concerned police headquarters to lodge the FIR,” says Abeed. This is a Supreme Court ruling that relatively few women know about, so don’t let the SHO of a police headquarters send you away saying it “doesn’t go under his territory”.
- No detention after nightfall
As per a Supreme Court ruling, a woman can’t be captured after nightfall and before dawn. There are many instances of a woman being troubled by the police at odd hours; however, this can be escaped away from if you these femme laws as to practice the privilege of being available in the police headquarters just amid daytime only.”Regardless of the possibility that there is a lady constable going with the officers, the police can’t capture a woman around evening time. On the off chance that the woman has carried out a heinous wrongdoing as terrorist activities, the police need to get it in writing from the magistrate clarifying why the night capture is urgent.
- You can’t be called to the police headquarters
Women can’t be called to the police headquarters for cross-examination under Section 160 of the Criminal Procedure Code. This law gives Indian woman the privilege of not being physically present at the police headquarters for cross-examination. “The police can investigate a woman at her home within the sight of a lady constable and relatives or companions,” says Abeed. Along these lines, whenever you’re called to the police headquarters for inquiries or cross-examination when you have been heckled, cite this rule of the Supreme Court to practice your privilege and remind the cops about it.
- Safeguard your identity
By no means can the identity of an assault casualty (victim) be uncovered. Neither the police nor media can make known the name of the casualty out in the open. Section 228-A of the Indian Penal Code makes the revelation of a casualty’s character a culpable offense. Printing or distributing the name or any issue which may make known the status of a woman against whom an offense has been conferred is culpable. This is done to avoid social exploitation or exclusion of the casualty of a sexual offense. Indeed, even while a judgment is in advance at the high court or a lower court, the name of the casualty isn’t shown, she is just depicted as ‘casualty’ in the judgment. So as per law in case the victim’s identity is used to threaten or shame her, if she knows few these laws, she should be bold to bring them to court or deal with them in the legal manner.
- The experts or medical professionals can’t dismiss
A case of rape can’t be rejected regardless of the possibility that the medical professional says rape had not occurred. A casualty of sexual assault should be medically analyzed according to Section 164 A of the Criminal Procedure Code, and just the report can go about for verification. “A woman has the privilege to have a duplicate of the medical report from the medical professional. Sexual Assault is wrongdoing, a crime and not a condition to be treated only. It is a lawful term and not a finding to be made by the medical officer treating the casualty. The main explanation that can be made by the medical officer is that there is confirmation of latest sexual act. Regardless of whether the assault has happened or not is a lawful conclusion and the medical professional can’t choose this.
- Employers must protect
It is the obligation of each establishment to make a Sexual Harassment Complaints Committee inside the association for redressal of such grievance. As indicated by a rule issued by the Supreme Court, it is required for all organizations, public and private, to set up these boards of trustees to determine matters of inappropriate sexual behavior. It is likewise essential that the advisory group be lead by a woman and involves women as members. Additionally, one of the individuals ought to be from a woman’s welfare group (NCW/DCW).
HAVE KNOWLEDGE OF THE INDIAN LAWS AND ACTS
Below is just a summary of Indian Acts very much relevant in our daily lives. Most of these Acts are about the protection provided to the Indian women in cases of abuse and harassment. It very important for us to be educated about the laws as well as spread the awareness to our kind for their well being.
- The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006
According to the IRCW -International Research Centre for Women, approximately 47 percent of girls are married before the age of 18. Currently, India ranks 13 in the world when it comes to child marriages. Since child marriage has been embedded in the Indian culture and norms since ages, it has been tough to break through it.
The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act was made effective in the year 2007. This Act prescribes child marriage as a union where the groom or the bride is underage, that is, the bride is under 18 years of age or the boy is younger than 21 years.
Guardians or their biological parents trying to marry underage girls are accountable to action under this law. Since the law makes these marriages illegal, it acts as a major deterrent. But we see the news of child brides very much a practice in our community especially the northern belts as Rajasthan, U.P, Bihar and certain south Indian states. In the month of October 2017, India’s Supreme Court Rules Sex With Child Brides Is Rape is quite a relief. Hopefully, this law comes into action.
- Special Marriage Act, 1954
The aim of the Special Marriage Act is to provide – a special form of marriage in certain cases, provide for registration of certain different marriages and to provide for divorce. In a country like India and with the diverse religions and caste, when people from different faiths and caste chose to get married they do it under the Special Marriage Act. It is NA not applicable to the territory of Jammu and Kashmir and also extends to intending spouses who are Indian nationals and living abroad. This Act is very much applicable in the times of Love Jihad.
- Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
According to this Dowry Prohibition Act, taking or giving of dowry at the time of the marriage to the bride or the bridegroom and their family is to be penalized. Dowry system or in religious terms ‘streedhan’ is giving of valuable property either movable or non-movable assets of high value either directly or indirectly to the grooms family, is a norm in India. Dowry is often demanded of the bride and her family by the groom and his kin members. The system has taken strong grassroots because women after marriage move in with their husband and in-laws as it’s a patrilocal society. Also, over the centuries, the financial dependence of women on men and the taboo towards divorce has resulted in many social evils as bride burning. When demands for dowry even after marriage are not met by the girl’s families, many women are subjected to various forms of violence as tortured, beaten and even burnt. It is one of the major obstacles that our community is grappling with. Women openly complaining about it have helped to spread the word and encourage other women to take a stand.
- Indian Divorce Act, 1969
This Act grants the dissolution of marriage, mutual consent, and nullity of marriage, judicial separation and restitution of conjugal rights. Family Courts are established to file, hear, and dispose of such cases.
- Maternity Benefit Act,1861
This act regulates the employment of women and maternity benefits mandated by law. It states that a woman employee who has worked in an organization for a period of at least 80 days during the 12 months preceding the date of her expected delivery is entitled to receive maternity benefits, which includes maternity leave, nursing breaks, medical allowance, etc.
- Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act,1971
The Act came into effect in 1972, was amended in 1975 and 2002. The aim and objective of the Act are to minimise the occurrence of illegal abortion and consequent maternal mortality and morbidity which occurs due to cultural practices as a male preference over the girls etc.
It clearly states the conditions under which a pregnancy can be ended or aborted and specifies the persons qualified to conduct the same.
Illustration: SC upholds woman’s right to abort as her right over her own body. Terming the abortion, to which he had objected, “illegal“, the husband had also demanded compensation from the woman’s parents and brother, and two doctors. The Haryana and Punjab High court had ousted the husband’s plea saying termination of pregnancy was the sole prerogative of the woman. The man had filed a civil suit against his wife, her parents, and brother, and the doctors for recovery of Rs 30 lakh towards damages on account of mental pain, agony and harassment. He argued that the termination of pregnancy without any medical need and without the consent of the unborn child’s father was illegal under the MTP Act.However, the HC had ordered the husband to pay a cost of Rs 25,000 to each respondent.
- Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013
To safeguard women’s safety at the workplace, this Act tries to protect them from sexual harassment at their place of work. Thirty-six percent of Indian companies and 25 percent among MNC’s are not complaints with the Sexual Harassment Act according to a FICCI-EY November 2015 report.
Sexual harassment at workplace also includes – the use of language with sexual overtones, invasion of private space with a male colleague hovering too close for comfort, subtle touches and innuendoes.
Things that can be done
- Create A Strong Sexual Harassment Policy
- Never Laugh At Or encourage Inappropriate Jokes
- Keep Your Office Parties “PG” Rated
- Ensure That All Upper-Level Employees Attend Anti-Harassment Workshops
- Prevent Retaliation by harasser
- Keep cabin doors see-through or transparent
- Keep evidence, record, email or text trail if inappropriate.
- Have witnesses reconfirm your ordeal
- Speak up for yourself cos everyone around you is trying to silence you
- Prioritising prevention and establishing a redressal mechanism.
- Indecent Representation of Women(Prevention) Act,1986
This Act constrains immoral representation of women through advertisement or in publications, writings, paintings, figures, digital misrepresentation or in any other manner.
- National Commission for Women Act, 1990
The National Commission for Women (NCW) is a statutory body of the Government of India, established in January 1992.Mrs. Rekha Sharma is the new Chairperson in 2017. The NCW speaks for the rights of women in India and provides a platform for their problems and grievances. The National Commission for Women Act aims to improve the status of women and worked for their economic empowerment.
- Equal Remuneration Act, 1976
This Act prevents discrimination in terms of remuneration (wage). It administers for remittance of equal payment of both men and women workers. It is necessary to know these and other laws in place to protect the interests of women. Only if you are aware of your rights can you fight against any injustice meted out to you at home, at the workplace, or in the society?
Hoping for a safer environment for the women everywhere around the world. Stand up for your rights as no one will. Looking forward to hearing from your side of the world. Spread the awareness.