Crime against women has increased rapidly in India over the past ten years. A total number of 3,27,394 cases of crime against women were reported in the country during the year 2015 as compared to 11,887 in the year 2005. Violence against women is a serious violation of human rights. It affects the physical and mental well-being of women and prevents them from active participation in the society. Here’s a report by Bushra, exclusively in Different Truths.
Women’s Manifesto, an NGO working for women empowerment and social welfare, organised a silent protest on 16th December 2017 (Nirbhaya Day) at Central Park, Connaught Place, New Delhi as part of its campaign on “Voice against Violence” to end violence against women.
Women, one half of the population, have a pivotal role in the development of society and the nation. Unfortunately, many of them are struggling to protect their dignity instead of engaging themselves in nation building. The condition of women continues to be pathetic in every sector. They are physically, verbally, mentally, emotionally and sexually abused.
According to WHO fact sheet record, 35 percent women are facing physical and sexual assault worldwide (UN Women, report 2012). Crime against women has increased rapidly in India over the past ten years. A total number of 3,27,394 cases of crime against women were reported in the country during the year 2015 as compared to 11,887 in the year 2005 (National Crime Records Bureau).
Violence against women is a serious violation of human rights. It affects the physical and mental well-being of women and prevents them from active participation in the society. Violence not only has negative consequences for the victim but also their families, the society and the country at large. A number of laws and policies are there to prevent violence and protect the dignity of women. Laws and policies are the foundation of a comprehensive approach to end violence. It is the joint responsibility of the government, civil society organizations and individuals to advocate for ending violence, increase awareness among the public and build the capacity of women to prevent and respond to violence. Raising awareness to end violence is about changing people’s heart and mind through a systematic and continuous campaign.
In this context, Women’s Manifesto has organised an awareness campaign from October 2017 to March 2018 to increase awareness among the public and build the capacity of women to prevent and respond to violence against women. For this purpose, the organisation is conducting discussions, workshops, street plays, surveys, screening of documentary films, awards, women’s summit, publications, competitions, etc.
Silent Protest in Central Park, Connaught Place is the beginning of a hundred such programs to be organised in a different part of the country during the campaign period. Women and men representing 18 states and different universities participated in the program held at Central Park and distributed leaflets to the public.
Know Your Rights, Raise Your Voice to end Violence against Women
The rights and safeguards enshrined in the constitution for women in India are listed below:
- Article 15(1): The state shall not discriminate against any citizen of India on the ground of sex.
- Article 15(3): The state is empowered to make any special provision for women. In other words, this provision enables the state to make affirmative discrimination in favour of women.
- Article 16(2): No citizen shall be discriminated against or be ineligible for any employment or office under the state on the ground of sex.
- Article 23(1): Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labour.
- Article 39(a): The state to secure for men and women equally the right to an adequate means of livelihood.
- Article 39(d): The state to secure equal pay for equal work for both Indian men and women.
- Article 39(e): The state is required to ensure that the health and strength of women workers are not abused and that they are not forced by economic necessity to enter vocation unsuited to their strength.
- Article 42: The state shall make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief.
- Article 51-A(e): It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women.
The following various legislations contain several rights and safeguards for women:
- Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act (2013) provides protection to women from sexual harassment at all workplaces both in public and private sector, whether organised or unorganised.
- Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (2005) is a comprehensive legislation to protect women in India from all forms of domestic violence. It also covers women who have been/are in a relationship with the abuser and are subjected to violence of any kind—physical, sexual, mental, verbal or emotional.
- Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act (1956) is the premier legislation for prevention of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation. In other words, it prevents trafficking in women and girls for the purpose of prostitution as an organized means of living.
- Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act (1986) prohibits indecent representation of women through advertisements or in publications, writings, paintings, figures or in any other manner.
- Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act (1987) provides for the more effective prevention of the commission of sati and its glorification on women.
- Dowry Prohibition Act (1961) prohibits the giving or taking of dowry at or before or any time after the marriage from women.
- Maternity Benefit Act (1961) regulates the employment of women in certain establishments for certain period before and after childbirth and provides for maternity benefit and certain other benefits.
- Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (1971) provides for the termination of certain pregnancies by registered medical practitioners on humanitarian and medical grounds.
- Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act (1994) prohibits sex selection before or after conception and prevents the misuse of pre-natal diagnostic techniques for sex determination leading to female feticide.
- Equal Remuneration Act (1976) provides for payment of equal remuneration to both men and women workers for same work or work of a similar nature. It also prevents discrimination on the ground of sex, against women in recruitment and service conditions.
- Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act (1939) grants a Muslim wife the right to seek the dissolution of her marriage.
- Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act (1986) protects the rights of Muslim women who have been divorced by or have obtained a divorce from their husbands.
- Family Courts Act (1984) provides for the establishment of Family Courts for speedy settlement of family disputes.
- Indian Penal Code (1860) contains provisions to protect Indian women from dowry death, rape, kidnapping, cruelty and other offences.
- Code of Criminal Procedure (1973) has certain safeguards for women like the obligation of a person to maintain his wife, arrest of a woman by female police and so on.
- Indian Christian Marriage Act (1872) contains provisions relating to marriage and divorce among the Christian community.
- Legal Services Authorities Act (1987) provides for free legal services to Indian women.
- Hindu Marriage Act (1955) introduced monogamy and allowed divorce on certain specified grounds. It provided equal rights to Indian man and woman in respect of marriage and divorce.
- Hindu Succession Act (1956) recognises the right of women to inherit parental property equally with men.
- Minimum Wages Act (1948) does not allow discrimination between male and female workers or different minimum wages for them.
- Mines Act (1952) and Factories Act (1948) prohibits the employment of women between 7 P.M. to 6 A.M. in mines and factories and provides for their safety and welfare.
- The following other legislation also contains certain rights and safeguards for women:
- Employees’ State Insurance Act (1948)
- Plantation Labour Act (1951)
- Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act (1976)
- Legal Practitioners (Women) Act (1923)
- Indian Succession Act (1925)
- Indian Divorce Act (1869)
- Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act (1936)
- Special Marriage Act (1954)
- Foreign Marriage Act (1969)
- Indian Evidence Act (1872)
- Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act (1956).
- National Commission for Women Act (1990) provided for the establishment of a National Commission for Women to study and monitor all matters relating to the constitutional and legal rights and safeguards of women.
IPC Provisions for Violence against Women
Section 304 B: Dowry Death.
Section 326 A: Voluntarily causing grievous hurt by using acid.
Section 326 B: Voluntarily throwing or attempting to throw acid.
Section 354: Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty.
Section 354A: Sexual harassment.
Section 354 B: Assault or use of criminal force to women with intent to
Section 354 C: Voyeurism – watching and capturing the image of a woman engaging in a private act.
Section 354 D: Stalking- follows a woman, contact or attempt to contact.
Section 362: Abduction- the act of illegally taking away or leading away, carrying off by force a child, wards, voter or wife.
Section 370: Trafficking of a person, more than one person, minor and more than one minor.
Section 373: Buying minor for the purpose of prostitution.
Section 375: Rape.
Section 376: Punishment for rape.
Section 493: Cohabitation caused by a man deceitfully inducing a belief in lawful marriage.
Section 494: Marrying again during lifetime of husband or wife.
Section 495: Same offence with concealment of former marriage from person with whom subsequent marriage is contracted.
Section 497: Adultery.
Section 498: Enticing- taking away or detaining with criminal intent a married woman.
Section498A: Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty.
©Bushra Alvi Razzack
Photos by the author
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