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The constitutional law is the parental law of all other in the India. The basic law provided under constitution of India for Women are under Article 14, 15, and 16;
Article 14; Equality before law: The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
Article 15: Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth
(1) The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them
(2) No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them, be subject to any disability, liability, restriction or condition with regard to
(a) Access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and palaces of public entertainment; or
(b) The use of wells, tanks, bathing ghats, roads and places of public resort maintained wholly or partly out of State funds or dedicated to the use of the general public
(3) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children.
(4) Nothing in this article or in clause ( 2 ) of Article 29 shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.
Article 16. Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment
(1) There shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State
(2) No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them, be ineligible for, or discriminated against in respect or, any employment or office under the State
(3) Nothing in this article shall prevent Parliament from making any law prescribing, in regard to a class or classes of employment or appointment to an office under the Government of, or any local or other authority within, a State or Union territory, any requirement as to residence within that State or Union territory prior to such employment or appointment
(4) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favor of any backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in the services under the State
(5) Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any law which provides that the incumbent of an office in connection with the affairs of any religious or denominational institution or any member of the governing body thereof shall be a person professing a particular religion or belonging to a particular denomination.
Further, the state is under moral obligation to make policy in favour of women under article 39 (a) and 42 of the constitution of India.
Article 39. Certain principles of policy to be followed by the State: The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing
(a) that the citizens, men and women equally, have the right to an adequate means to livelihood;
(b) that the ownership and control of the material resources of the community are so distributed as best to subserve the common good;
(c) that the operation of the economic system does not result in the concentration of wealth and means of production to the common detriment;
(d) that there is equal pay for equal work for both men and women;
(e) that the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength;
(f) that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.
Article 42. Provision for just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief:
The State shall make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief.
The constitution of India provides protection in general which is applicable in all other act passed, or will be passed in future by the parliament. Any law in violation of those principles enshrined in constitution are null and void. But constitution alone cannot protect all other specific rights of women therefore several statutes are enacted to provide specific protection of women rights and dignity such as;
- The Indian Penal Code,1860
- The Indian Evidence Act, 1872
- The Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872 (15 of 1872)
- The Married Women’s Property Act, 1874 (3 of 1874)
- The Guardians and Wards Act,1890
- The Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923
- The Trade Unions Act 1926
- The Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 (19 of 1929)
- The Payments of Wages Act, 1936
- The Payments of Wages (Procedure) Act, 1937
- The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937
- Employers Liabilities Act 1938
- The Minimum Wages Act, 1948
- The Employees’ State Insurance Act,1948
- The Factories Act, 1948
- The Minimum Wages Act, 1950
- The Plantation Labour Act, 1951 (amended by Acts Nos. 42 of 1953, 34 of 1960, 53 of1961, 58 of 1981 and 61 of 1986)
- The Cinematograph Act, 1952
- The Mines Act 1952
- The Special Marriage Act, 1954
- The Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955
- The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (28 of 1989)
- The Hindu Adoptions & Maintenance Act, 1956
- The Hindu Minority & Guardianship Act, 1956
- The Hindu Succession Act, 1956
- The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 (53 of 1961)
- The Beedi & Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966
- The Foreign Marriage Act, 1969 (33 of 1969)
- The Indian Divorce Act, 1969 (4 of 1969)
- The Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act, 1970
- The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 (34 of 1971)
- Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
- The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976
- The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1979
- The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979
- The Family Courts Act, 1984
- The Muslim women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986
- Mental Health Act, 1987
- National Commission for Women Act, 1990 (20 of 1990)
- The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 [As amended by the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Act, 2006 – No. 43 of 2006]
- Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000
- The Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act
- The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994
- The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006
- The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956
- The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 (28 of 1961) (Amended in 1986)
- The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986
- The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987 (3 of 1988)
- Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
- The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (PREVENTION, PROHIBITION and REDRESSAL) Act, 2013
- केंद्र सरकार द्वारा महिलाओं का कार्यस्थल पर लैंगिक उत्पीड़न (निवारण, प्रतिषेध एवं प्रतितोष) अधिनियम, २०१३ की धारा २९ के अंतर्गत बनाये गये नियम
But the sad thing is that none of them except sati prevention Act, 1987 have been successful. The aim and objective of all of the said Act/s are yet to accomplish and none other than us will be a helping hand in accomplishing these objectives.
The specific provision for protection of women rights are discussed here under;
- Adultery :- Adultery is a very serious crime against women in India and affects married women by and large. In simple words adultery means having voluntary sexual relationship with a married person other than the spouse. The offence of adultery is dealt with by section 497 of the Indian penal Code, 1860, which says adultery means sexual intercourse of a man with a married woman without the consent of her husband when such sexual intercourse does not amount to rape. However we may find different meaning of adultery in different laws in different countries. Initially only men were punished under the law of adultery in India but now men and women both are equally responsible for committing the crime of adultery. As per section 497, the offender shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. In such case the wife shall not be punishable as a partner in crime.
- Child marriage :-Child marriage is a very awful offence against child as it does not only harms the future of child but also damage social values. Further the doctors have also revealed that child marriage is a very big reason for bad health condition for girl child. Child marriage restricts the social development along with reduction in the educational and employment opportunities in the global market. It was like a burden on society to practice this unwritten custom. The major step was taken by the Law Commission of India by fixing the minimum age for marriage which is 18 years for girls and 21 years for boys. Another major step was mandatory primary education and moreover for girls provision for free education provided by the Government of India.
- Female feticides: –Female feticide means identifying and killing of female fetus before they take birth. This is the most brutal way of killing women. The custom of female feticide is practiced by the society form ancient times and it is really shameful to note that even today, when we considers ourselves educated and civilized, this custom is practiced in a big manner. Government has taken so many steps to spread awareness among people about the consequences of this crime. Many awareness programs are conducted by the Government to spread the awareness about the physical, mental and social effect of this practice. Punishment of 3 years imprisonment and Rs. 10,000 fine has been prescribed by Pre conception and Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex selection) Act, 1994, for the offence of Female feticides.
In a recently development Maharashtra government has recommend to the center that the crime of female feticide should be treated as murder. To ensure this amendment in Pre conception and Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex selection) Act, 1994, (PCPNDT Act, 1994) would become necessary. This provision will bring this crime within the category of murder under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
- Trafficking and Prostitution :-Trafficking means import and export of humans for sex business. It is indeed very sad to learn that in India, where women are recognized as Devi and prayed by all Indian’s as Devi Shakti, they are also treated as a source of earning by unethical means. Prostitution is one of the biggest problems in this world which is damaging the women in many ways. In general, the term prostitution means offer of sexual services for earning money. Prostitution is a problem which exists across the world. There are quite a few laws in India in order to prevent the crime of prostitution like Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girl Act 1956 and Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act 1956. There are few commissions are made by state Government to save women and specially girls to protect them from this practice.
- Domestic Violence:- Domestic violence has become a very serious problem for women. In general the term Domestic violence means mental, physical, emotional and economical harassment of a woman by family members. For the purpose of domestic violence family includes spouse, his mother, father, brother, sister, his relatives and sometimes even friends. We call ourselves educated and talk too much about morality, ethics and civilization and expect others to be good to create a dream world but forget that without giving due respect to the women, a nation’s growth is impossible. Now in India domestic violence is recognized as a criminal offence under section 498A of Indian Penal Code, 1860. Domestic violence means cruelty by husband towards women. Cruelty can be done by physically, mentally, economically or emotionally.
An act called Domestic violence Act, 2005 was introduced to handle the cases of Domestic violence in India. This act is a very noteworthy attempt in India to recognize domestic violence as a punishable offence. Before the introduction of this act two kinds of remedies were available to a women affected by Domestic violence. These two remedies were divorce through civil courts and application of section 498A through criminal courts.
- Eve teasing: – It is a general perception that eve teasing is not a big crime like rape or murder and may be because of that we don’t take it seriously. But from a women’s point of view eve teasing is also a very big crime as this activity does make her feel uncomfortable most of the times. Eve teasing usually involves teasing women, passing comments on women and making vulgar signs (eshare). A woman has to face this kind of irritating behavior and deal with this on daily basis. She can’t even fight back due to fear of disrespect by others as everyone will blame her and say that you must have done something to invite them. In case of eve teasing girl should not remain silent and raise her voice. She should inform her family members and simultaneously file a complaint in the nearest police station. In this case family should also support the women instead of locking her at home.
- Acid Throwing:- Recently the issue of acid throwing on girls has also become a big issue. There are few types of acids and all are very dangerous for human flash and burn. This acid attack sometimes is so dangerous that even bones and eyes are also got damaged due to acid. Few victims are forced to leave their education or occupation due to the results of acid throwing. Now a days this has become very easy for people to get these acids and the cases of acid throwing has become very regular in daily life.
It is quite sad that despite of so many cases of acid attacks on women, we do not have a dedicated and specific law to deal with such cases. The National Commission for Women (NCW) is asked for a well defined law to deal with such casualties. The NCW has introduced a draft of the Prevention of Offences (by Acids) Act, 2008, which is with now with the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development for the purpose of vetting and final recommendations. Once the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development approved the Bill, it will be sent to the law ministry to be tabled in Parliament. After the approval in Parliament it will become applicable as law.
- Fraudulent Marriage:- Before going into the details of Fraudulent Marriage let me explain the general meaning of fraud in relation to crime against women. Fraud means hiding something or giving false impression about something which a person knows that knowing the fact may harm his prospective marriage. The scope of fraudulent marriage has increased in the recent past as in India parents of a girl are very fond of NRI son in law. Parents want to settle their daughter with any rich NRI. Parents of brides don’t inquire too much about the NRI groom as they are happy that their daughter is going to marry a rich person who will fulfill her all demands and she will live a luxurious life in abroad. There blind faith on NRI’s may invite problems like false commitments, false details, second marriage and infertility. This is not necessary that fraudulent marriages only took place in case of NRI’s even Indian grooms also do the same for money or for boy child or for any other reason.
- Exploitation at work place:- Though we all accept the truth that in today’s world women has come out of her image of house wife and proved herself as a better administrator then a man. In all sectors women are working hard and getting awards and rewards for that. She has crossed all the boundaries and shut the mouth of all those peoples who has ever questioned her working caliber.But she has to pay a very heavy price of her success as she has to face exploitation at work place do we ever think what boundaries she has crossed and how. What she had paid go get this position and power? How much pain she has felt to become this person.
Such act/s are prevented and punishable under The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
- Rape, murder: – Rape is another very serious crime against women and this crime is increasing day by day like anything. Reporting of rape and abduction cases has become very common in print and electronic media which is indeed a very sad affair for all of us. Increasing rape cases are enough to prove that our moral values are still very low and we still to learn how to respect the dignity of women at large.
In simple terms the word ‘Rape’ means sexual intercourse or sexual penetration, by another person without the consent of the other person or victim. Provisions related to rape are given in section 375 and 376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Section 375 explains the pre-condition which are necessary to prove the offence of rape whereas section 376 provides punishment for the offence of rape. As per section 376, whoever commits the offence of rape shall be punished with imprisonment of either for a term which shall not be less than seven years (7) but which may be for life or for a term which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine.
- Dowry:- The system of dowry is another social evil which dragging women back from 100 of years as this evil has a very long history especially in India. Various dowry based domestic violence cases has been reported by media. There are ample legal provisions in India to provide relief to women in case of dowry based domestic violence cases. Civil law of India has prohibited the payment of dowry in the year 1961. Further Indian Penal Code, 1860 has introduced Sections 304B and 498A, which allows women to file complaint and seek restoration of her rights from serious harassment by the husband’s family.
Dowry is one of the strong and biggest reasons of increasing domestic violence. Every year thousands of dowry deaths along with mental trauma cases reported and registered in India. In case of inadequate dowry, incidents like burning, suicides, physical and mental torture of women is very common by husband and his family. Keeping in view the increasing cases of dowry deaths another legislative provision called “Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005”, was introduced in order to reduce domestic violence cases and to protect women’s rights.
Women have always been seen as a victim from the time immemorial. They are subjected to discrimination, criminality, harassment, and inhumane treatment. Such a prospective of society fabricates yet another discrimination. My attempt is to show women as an evolution and the face of development of the society. The criminality against women is not only the death of her dignity but the human race as well.