Important Rights Related To Women

OVERVIEW

Important Rights Related To Women

"Don't be oppressed; women should know and claim their rights because when a woman stands up for herself, then she can stand up for all women."

Every minute crimes against women keep happening in India. Women are not safe in their homes, public places, or workplaces. "Your safety is in your hands" sounds like an adage to repeat. Considering the number of crimes committed against women, it is pertinent that women are aware of the laws. Always remember that knowledge is power. As a parent, wife, daughter, employee, and woman, these are the rights to protect you, and you must be aware of them.

Women have been victims of mental harassment, physical abuse, and sexual violence since time immemorial. And the violation of women's rights is still common in India and every other country in the world. However, it's not like things have to continue the way they have. Injustice to women can be effectively challenged: legally, if not socially.
Many laws empower women to fight adversities like discrimination, harassment, violence, and abuse.

Women's rights can be broadly divided into constitutional rights and legal rights. Those guaranteed by the Constitution include the right to equality, no discrimination in employment based on gender, adequate secure means of livelihood, equal pay for equal work, fair and humane conditions of work, etc.

In Indian Constitution, the DPSC includes the duty of the State to enforce these principles while making laws. DPSP principles state that the State shall direct its policies to ensure that citizens, men, and women alike, have the right to an adequate means of livelihood, equal pay for both men and women and that children and women are entitled to duty. To provide free and compulsory education and duty to improve public health. While in case of violation of fundamental rights, these rights are enforceable, i.e., the victim can seek legal redress from a court.

Here's a quick preface to the rights:

  • Equality before Law
  • Equality of Opportunity
  • Humane Conditions at Work 
  • Voting rights/Electoral Law
  • Right to equal pay
  • The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006
  • Maternity Benefit Act,1861
  • Right of private defense/self-defense
  • Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act,1971
  • Women have a right against domestic violence
  • Right of women to file a virtual complaint
  • Women have a right to be stalked
  • Women have a right to Zero FIR
  • Right to maintenance
  • Right to free legal aid
  • Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act
  • Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961

Equality before Law

  • Article 14 embodies the equality before the law and equal protection of the rules: prohibition of discrimination on religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth.
  • Articles 15(1) and (2) prohibit the State from discriminating against any citizen on any one or more aspects such as religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth.
  • Article 15(3) provides the provisions to protect the interests of women and children.
  • Article 15(4) provisions for promoting the interests and welfare of the socially and educationally backward sections of the society.

Equality of Opportunity

  • Article 16 states that equality of opportunity in public employment or opportunity in any office under the State and prohibits discrimination on sex. 
  • According to Article 39(a), the State should direct its policy towards securing the right to an adequate means of livelihood for men as well as women alike.
  • Article 39(d) equal pay for equal work for men and women.
  • Article 39A, the State to promote justice based on equal opportunity and to promote free legal aid by applicable Law or scheme or in any other manner to ensure that no citizen for economic or economic reasons is not denied opportunities to secure justice is no citizen is deprived because of financial or other disabilities.

Humane Conditions at Work

  • Article 42 directs the State to ensure justice and humane work conditions and make provisions for maternity relief.
  • Fundamental Duty
  • Article 51A(e) mandates every citizen to give up practices derogatory to the dignity of the women.

Voting rights/Electoral Law

  • One-third of the seats are reserved for women. Such seats may be allotted alternately to different constituencies of a Panchayat.
  • The Chairperson in the Panchayat shall be reserved for the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, and women at the village or any other level in such manner as the Legislature of the State may, by law, provide.

Right to equal pay

Now we have gender-neutral laws. A man and a woman have the right to equal pay for equal work. There is a provision for this in the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976. As per the provisions listed under the Equal Remuneration Act, there cannot be discrimination based on gender in wages, salaries, or wages. Working women have the right to equal pay as compared to men. It is essential to know these and other laws to protect the interests of women. If women are aware of these rights, they can fight against any injustice at home, in the workplace, or in society.

The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006

According to the International Research Center for Women, about 47 percent of girls are married before 18. India's ranks is 13th in the world in terms of child marriage. It has been challenging to abolish since child marriage has been steeped in Indian culture and tradition for centuries. Under the amendment in the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2021, the age of marriage for girls and boys is not less than 21 years. Parents who try to marry underage girls are subject to action under this Law.

Maternity Benefit Act,1861

The Act regulates women's employment and the maternity benefits mandated by Law. It states that a female employee who has worked in an organization for at least 26 weeks of maternity leave, including maternity benefits, nursing breaks, medical allowance, etc.

Right of private defense/self-defense

This is a defensive right. Women can cause injury, serious injury, or even death in protecting your body or another person's body from an attacker. But she can kill the assailant without attracting liability and punishment only in certain circumstances like:

When a woman thinks the assailant will cause death or grievous hurt or is about to rape, kidnap, or abductor if he wants to lock her in a room or throw or attempt to throw acid on her, she can kill that person, and the Law will protect you.

Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act,1971

The Act came into force in 1972, as amended in 1975 and 2002. The Act's objective is to reduce the incidence of illegal abortion and consequently reduce maternal mortality and morbidity. It allows the termination of some instances of pregnancies by registered doctors on humanitarian and medical grounds. It clearly states the conditions under which a pregnancy can be terminated or abortion can be performed and specifies the persons eligible to achieve the same.

Women have a right to domestic violence

In the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act of 2005, every woman is entitled to a right against domestic violence. Domestic violence includes physical abuse and mental, sexual, and economic abuse. Therefore, if any daughter or wife or live-in partner is subjected to any such misbehavior by their partner or husband or their relatives or by a person related by blood or adoption, who resides or resides in the shared household, Well then one can explore the provisions of Domestic Violence Act and various remedies provided under it. Women can register their complaints by contacting their helpline number "1091". And women can also get the women's cell in nearby areas, which can find out with the help of the Internet. They provide exceptional services to such women and help them register their cases before magistrates after properly drafting their complaints. Women can also approach the police to report their cases. Section 498 of the Indian Penal Code deals with the protection of a wife, a female live-in partner, or a woman living in the household such as a mother or sister from domestic violence (including verbal, economic, emotional, and sexual) at the hands of the husband, male live-in partner or relatives.

Right of women to file a virtual complaint

  • The Law allows women to register virtual complaints via email or write them and send them to the police station by a registered postal address.
  • Further, the SHO sends a police constable to his house to register his complaint.
  • This happens when a woman cannot physically go to the police station and lodge a complaint.

Women have a right to be stalked

Section 354D of the IPC paves the way for legal action against an offender if he follows a woman, repeatedly attempts to contact her to promote personal conversation despite apparent signs of disinterest, or monitors the use of the Internet, email, or any other form of electronic communication by a woman.

Women have a right to Zero FIR

An FIR that can be lodged in any police station, irrespective of where the incident occurs or falls under a specific jurisdiction, the Zero FIR can subsequently be transferred to the police station under whose jurisdiction the matter is Comes. This decision was passed by the Supreme Court to save the victim's time and prevent the perpetrator from escaping.

Right to maintenance

Maintenance includes necessities of life like food, shelter, clothing, education, health care facilities, etc. A married woman is entitled to maintenance from her husband even after divorce till she remarries. The maintenance depends on the wife's standard of living and the circumstances and income of the husband. Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, imposes an obligation on the husband to maintain his divorced wife, except when the wife commits adultery or refuses to live with her husband without reasonable cause or when both live separately by mutual consent. Under the said section, any Indian woman can claim maintenance from her husband, irrespective of caste and religion.

Right to free legal aid

Women are entitled to claim free legal services from recognized legal service authorities under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, even if they can afford legal services on their own. District, State, and National Legal Services Authorities are constituted at the district, State, and national levels.

Sexual Harassment Act, 2013

To ensure women's safety in the workplace, the Act seeks to protect them from sexual harassment at their workplace. In Visakha v State of Rajasthan, the Hon'ble Supreme Court laid down specific guidelines for protecting women from sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment at the workplace also includes language with a sexual tone, invasion of private space with a male co-worker, hovering too close for comfort, subtle touching, and intuitiveness.

Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961

According to this Act, taking or giving dowry at marriage to the bride or groom and their family is punishable. Dowry system, giving and taking dowry is a common practice in India. Dowry is often demanded from the bride and her family by the groom and his family. This system has taken firm roots as women move in with their spouses and in-laws after marriage. In addition, for centuries, women's lack of economic independence and taboos against divorce has resulted in bride burning. Many women are tortured, beaten up, and even burnt when the girl's families do not meet the dowry demands even after marriage.

This is one of the significant challenges that our society is facing. Women complaining openly about it has helped spread the word and encouraged other women to take a stand.

Conclusion
Indian Law protects women very well. Every Indian woman should know these fundamental rights of women. One who knows the Law does not need any weapon. Law is his weapon which makes him the most powerful man. Awareness of your rights makes you intelligent and just. Only by being aware of your rights can you fight against any injustice done to you at the home, workplace, or in society. 

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