This article is written by Ayushi Mahajan, currently pursuing BBA.LL.B from Centre For Legal Studies, Gitarattan International Business School (Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University). This article talks about women’s rights in India and its various related aspects.
All human beings are born equally and freely in rights and dignity, and all have the freedoms and rights without any differentiation of any kind, such as language, religion race, colour, sex, birth or another event. However, it is most unfortunate that in almost all societies of the world, women have suffered from inferiority status to men. In ancient India, women used to enjoy equal status with men in all the spheres of life. Later women spread between the middle and modern ages have been deprived of a place worthy of their honour and a vortex of innumerable castes and communal assemblages, frightening ties to the education and welfare of women banning child marriages, marriage, sati, widows divorce, to name a few atrocities on them. There is no doubt that the rule of gender equality is enshrined in the Constitution of India. The Constitution of India guarantees adult suffrage and provides full opportunities and framework to women to participate actively in politics. But it is a pity that the post-independence decades saw a decline in women’s participation in politics.
According to a United Nations report, the Indian Constitution used to prohibit inequality on the basis of gender or sex, but the status of women is uneven in our societies. Experts say that women in India have long been subject to cultural biases that reduce the value of daughters over son, often seen as an economic burden on families who face high dowry and marriage expenses. Sex-selective abortions have occurred in India despite a ban on screening for such purposes in 1996. Researchers say that six million female fetuses are miscarried every year in India, or 2.2 percent of the annual birth rate. It has dropped the sex ratio so dramatically that in 2011, India had 914 girls for every 1000 boys among children up to six years of age since independence in 1947 – the most unbalanced sex ratio.
Analysts say that one of the key elements hindering the progress of women’s rights in India is the low level of female political representation. While Sonia Gandhi, presides over the Indian National Congress party, about 10 percent of the members of Parliament are women only. In contrast, women hold 17 percent of the US Congress, and in Pakistan, the National Assembly has 17.5 percent seats for women.
Progress is being stalled on this front. In January 2012, the lower house of India delayed the bill for at least one year, reserving a third of seats in parliament and in state legislatures for women. The law was passed in the upper house or Rajya Sabha in March 2010 after thirteen years of a long debate.
Rights that are granted to women in India
We live in a world where gods and goddesses are worshipped and women are harassed, tortured, abused and abducted every single day. The Government of India confers important rights to Indian women, investigating cases related to many women. “Human rights are known as women’s rights and women’s rights are to be known as human rights, once and for all.” – Hillary Clinton
Unfortunately, many women in India are not aware of their rights which are provided in different Indian laws.
On the basis of gender equality, an Indian woman has 11 rights in India.
Women have the right to equal pay
According to the provisions which are prescribed under the Equal Remuneration Act 1976, one cannot be discriminated against on the basis of gender when it comes to salary or wages. Working women have the right to draw an equal salary compared to men.
Women have the right to dignity and decency
In a scenario where the accused is a woman of an offence, the medical examination or her interrogation is to be done in front of another woman present there.
Women have the right to workplace harassment
Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013 gives a woman the right through which she can file a form of sexual harassment complaint at her workplace. Under this Act, she can submit a written complaint to a branch office to an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) within a period of 3 months.
Women have a right against domestic violence
Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 seeks to protect a wife, a female live-in partner or a woman residing in a household, from domestic violence (including verbal, financial, emotional and sexual) at the hands of a husband. Male live-in partner or relative.
Female sexual assault victims have the right to keep their identity confidential
To ensure that the privacy of the woman is protected, a sexually abused woman can record her statement alone before the District Magistrate when the case is on trial phase or in the presence of a female police officer.
Women have the right to get free legal aid
Under the Legal Services Authority Act, 1987, female rape victims have the right to receive free legal aid or assistance from the Legal Services Authority, which has to arrange for a lawyer.
Women have the right not to be arrested at night
Unless a significant case occurs at the request of a first-class magistrate, a woman cannot be arrested after sunset and before sunrise. Apart from this, the law also states that the police can interrogate a woman at her home only in the presence of a female constable and family members.
Women have the right to register virtual complaints
The law provides for women to file a virtual complaint via email, or write their complaint and send it to the police station from a registered postal address. In addition, the SHO sends a police constable to his place to register his complaint. This happens when the woman is not physically in a position to go to a police station and lodge a complaint.
Women have the right against indecent representation
Punishment of any female figure in any way that is vulgar, abusive, cheap, or likely to degrade, corrupt or injure public morals or morals is a punishable offence.
Women have the right against being stalked
Section 354D of The Indian Penal Code, 1860, talks about the offence of being stalked. The women have the right to lodge a complaint when someone is stalking either physically or by the means of social media.
Women have a right to zero FIR
An FIR that can be lodged at any police station, irrespective of where the incident occurred or the specific jurisdiction under it, can be later transferred to the police station under whose jurisdiction the case falls. The ruling was passed by the Supreme Court to save the victim’s time and prevent a criminal from being Scot-free.
Political aspects of women’s rights in India
In India, women are granted many rights but very few are aware of them. Women are assaulted through many of their relatives but they are asked to keep quiet as people do not want that due to women, their status in the society becomes low.
The Political Aspects of Women’s Right talks about the situation where women are not allowed to participate politically in various social-cultural events. They are hindered in their basic rights and are forced to do the chores without their permission.
Women need to build skills and self – resilience
In India, some customs like “Raksha Bandhan” where the sister ties a rakhi on her brother’s arms, where she asks for protection and marriage where the concept of “kanyadaan” (donating a daughter) still prevails. Yes, women are usually brought to believe that their safety resides in obedience to the men in the family.
After being exposed to only a few housekeeping skills and exposed to “primacy”, women in India have little scope to invest in preparing for emergencies, such as, for example, if something happens to the bread-earning man. Apart from not being exposed to any other possibility of developing income-generating skills, women have no awareness of financial instruments and savings in banks and the concept of handling home bank statements.
Fighting poverty: Challenging the status of women in India
When she is thrown into a situation where she has to make important decisions that affect the well-being of her family, she is highly vulnerable to exploiters. Apart from this aspect, in the context of the possibility of taking up employment somewhere to earn for the family in dire circumstances, the lack of adequate skill sets to put in the confusion of the informal sector, which further provides poverty in India.
The informal sector is being largely uncontrolled, its standard of living and income varies according to the whims and vacancies of its employer. Instances have come to light where women have been lured and sold by promising fraudsters to work. Examples of sexual abuse and cruel working conditions are also a reality for women trapped in the chains of poverty.
To fight sexual violence and human trafficking, the government should do everything to promote women entrepreneurship in India and help them get into the formal sector to enjoy the legal protection that comes with real employment contracts.
Gender issues at all levels of society
Life is different but not better for upper-class women, educated women. Despite their qualifications, those who work against them work outside their homes, while travelling to universities and colleges are a threat to their safety.
From jilted lovers wishing to teach their girlfriend a lesson to dismiss them through extreme methods such as fiery attacks and rape, mistreating women and equal positions through harassment and molestation of men on the streets to keep – the story follows a similar narrative. Almost everywhere in the breadth and length of the country.
The role of the Indian family
The question which naturally comes to the mind is “why”? Despite all the progressive ideals which define the concept of the nation, why do women still suffer from such social and political attitudes? The answer is surprisingly within an Indian family unit. In an Indian family (in general), where a girl has a child and a boy, it is interesting to note the different values they have been taught since childhood.
The girl is taught the dream of being more homely, timid, polite, obedient and in some cases only a good wife, mother and housewife (the ideal is one who does not raise her voice). Even in the cases in which she is given the opportunity to pursue further studies from school and the entire college, she is taught to prefer gender stereotypes to careers such as “teacher”, “nurse”, etc.
Different investments for boys and girls
The family invests more on the boy’s career and more on the girl’s future marriage. For further construction, children learn in most cases that women are born to marry and visit their in-laws. With this comes the notion of holding property and inheritance.
As a woman has to marry another according to social norms, the family naturally talks of inheriting the son and not the daughter. This naturally leads the girl to believe that she is an obligation, while the boy believes that he has the right to stand up to his claims as he will be a long-time home run. Even though laws are designed to ensure that women get their fair share, in reality, the case is that very few women are aware of the law and need to stand up for the right to protection.
It is a reality that women everywhere are likely to suffer in some form or other discrimination. We need to increase our efforts to empower women and increase their progress through their human rights. It is our moral, social and constitutional responsibility to ensure progress by giving them equal rights and opportunities. One of the important factors in the success of development is determined by the status and position of women in society. Empowerment. Women need to have a cohesive approach, a cause that requires constant attention and leadership by all. Legal literacy and awareness programs are other important measures to achieve women their rights. For this purpose, paralegals should be trained to educate women about their rights and the challenges of the 21st century.
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