Women Rights

Saathiya was founded on the belief that the human rights of women and girls are essential to development and that equality between women and men will only be achieved through use of international human rights principles and processes. We see a critical role for ourselves in filling the gap between the promise of women's rights and their actual realization.We contribute to the progressive interpretation, universalisation, implementation and realization of women's human rights.

Saathiya is an educational initiative in the area of women and their economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR). From its base in India, Saathiya works to promote the human rights of women, addressing women's poverty, health standards, and right to food, education, water and work. We do that by bringing a gender perspective to policy, law and practice at the local, national, regional and international levels.

All human rights are universal, indivisible, and interdependent. Civil and political rights are mutually interdependent on economic, social and cultural rights.

Women's economic and social empowerments are fundamental to full realization of women's human rights.

Human rights mechanisms are on organizing, mobilizing and empowering tool in addition to an international legal framework.

Provisions ensuring rights of Indian women: Mental and physical torture of women has become quite common and their safety is at stake. Most unfortunate part of this is even women are not fully aware about their rights. Our Indian constitution was written in an era when the social condition of Indian women was very poor and need an urgent reform. At that time Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, author of our Indian constitution, took certain constructive and much needed steps in favour of Indian women to make them independent and socially strong and today we can see the revolutionary change in the position and image of Indian women. Today women are everywhere and to be precise women are in space, women are in corporate, and women are in politics, women are in entertainment field, women are in defence field and the list goes on.

It is indeed a matter of pleasure that the position of women has improved in the last four decades. But still somewhere I feel that the presently Indian women are again a bit struggling to maintain their dignity and freedom. Mental and physical torture of women has again become common and that is why they have started feeling unsafe. There are lots of provisions in our law which protects a woman from mental and physical torture.

Provisions ensuring rights of Indian women: The provisions which enhanced the value of present women can be divided into two parts:

A. Constitutional provisions

B. Parliamentary provisions

It's a fact that awareness about constitutional and Parliamentary provisions to improve the condition of women is lacking. To ensure and spread the awareness of these provisions we will discuss them in detail.

A. Constitutional provisions to ensure dignity of women

Please find below some of the provisions made in favour of Indian women, in constitution of India:

1. Article 14:-ensures equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India. This is a very important provision which provides equal legal protection to women against any women based crime. This provision also paves way for the introduction of various laws and acts to ensure protection and enforcement of legal rights of women in India.

2. Article 15:-ensures that no one should create any sort of discrimination only on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth or any of them within the territory of India. As per article 15(3) of the constitution state has the authority to make any special provision for women and children.

3. Article 16:-ensures equal employment opportunity to every citizen of India. As per article 16 there should not be any discrimination in respect of employment opportunity under the State only on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, and place of birth, residence or any of them.

Article 39:-ensures the benefit of the directive principles of state policy to the women. Directive principles of state policy mean guiding principles for the framing of laws by the government at state level. Article 39(a) of directive principles of state policy ensures and directs a state to apply policies which focus on men and women have an equal right of adequate means of livelihood and article 39(c) ensures equal pay for equal work for both men and women.

4. Article 42:-caste a duty on every employer to ensure just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief. In reality the position and treatment of women in corporate offices is really bad and in fact they are exploited by their seniors and bosses. In this scenario the provisions of article 42 are very important and now it is duty of employer to provide good working conditions to all the employees.

Article 243:-ensures reservation of seats in gram panchayat for women. This opportunity of being a part of local level arbitration process has improved the social conditions of women in village areas.

B. Parliamentary provisions to ensure dignity of women

After Independence there was need to introduce some statutory laws to ensure safety and protection of women. Keeping in view this requirement, just like constitutional provisions, various parliamentary steps have also been taken by the law of India in order to ensure dignified life to the Indian Women. Parliamentary steps means and includes the enactment of various laws and statutory acts to protect the interest of women and to stop the crime against women. These acts have proved really useful towards progress and safety of women in society.

Few crimes which are recognized as crime against women are:

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. 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 centre 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. Women are 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. 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. 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. 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. Eve teasing usually involves teasing women, passing comments on women and making vulgar signs. A woman has to face this kind of irritating behaviour 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. 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:- 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. 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:- 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 calibre. But she has to pay a very heavy price of her success as she has to face exploitation at work place .

Rape, murder:- Rape is another very serious crime against women. 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.

Child marriage:- Various dowry based domestic violence cases has been reported by media. 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. 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.

Some legislative acts for women at one place

Please have a look:

1) Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961

2) The Protection Of Women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005

3) The Commission Of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987

4) The Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1956

5) Civil Procedure Code, 1973

6) Indian Penal Code, 1960

7) Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

8) Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929

9) The Medical Termination Of Pregnancy Act, 1971

10) National Commission Of Women Act, 1990

11) The Minimum Wages Act, 1948

12) Bonded Labour System Abolition Act, 1976

13) The Special Marriage Act, 1954

14) Foreign Marriage Act, 1969

15) Indian Divorce Act, 1969

16) The Indecent Representation of Women Prohibition Act, 1986

17) Guardians & Wards Act, 1869

18) Equal Remuneration Act, 1976

19)Rape, murder Act, in section 375 and 376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

20) Maternity Benefit Act 1961

The above list is not conclusive but inclusive. So there is no doubt that our judiciary and legislature has taken various effective steps to ensure the dignity of women.