WOMEN AND LAW
Updated: Feb 6
Mayukh Nandi, III year of B.A.,LL.B from Shyambazar Law College
Fastidious reflection on women in India since the days of yore have been a heightening perturbation of solitude but of tormenting with torture, abuse, agony, misery, pain, & distress in purgatory tribulation. Exacerbating the inflamed macabre and monstrous harrowing of women, the civilization living in the community manifested to progress and prosper the status and station of women by amending through ameliorating the law in the contemplation of restricting and regulating the humankind to look through egalitarianism accompanied by emancipation to women as of men.
1. Changing Status Of Women In India.
With the changing repute and rank of women, a wide range of legal remoteness converted it to awareness with remedies to limit like a tincture-in-the-blood in contradiction to vice. The law, wherever it happened to be probable, engaged in a paramount role for women to raise the role of women in the barbaric eyes of men. Men were murderous, ferocious, remorseless, villainous and merciless in relation to women. Howbeit, the lassie sections of the society were accepting the horrendous behavior of men meekly. This gone to happen for years, whereas the law brought a constricting uncivilized heathen boorish in the vicinity of women. The society found the atrocities not faired for women brought new legal resolve to portray the gender equality to both men and women.
The gender equality should have to be the primary outfit of the community before the struggle for rights comes out to heed. Gender inequality is inhumane, stupidity, and a crime. This predicament, if it proves as unaccepted, severe punishment is to be given from whom the unjust would come. Discriminating remarks based on gender inequality leads to severe consequences for punishments in all metaphors, allegedly unjustifiable.
German philosopher and social scientist Friedrich Engels in his classical writing "Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State" states that "Woman was the first human being that tasted bondage. Woman was a slave before slavery existed". The feminist struggle for equal rights has been paved through legislation, be it the Suffragette movement and the right to vote, to employment rights, property rights, rights governing divorce and married to child-care and medicine – legislation based on equal rights affects the very values of society, impacting not just the way we vote, but the way we work, live and function as a family, the way we access education, healthcare and justice.
“Women have a much better time than men in this world; there are far more things forbidden to them. Oscar Wilde said.
India has always been the melting pot of various cultures and religions; with a continuous influx of people from across the globe, the society has remained in a constant change and progress. Indian society, which had undergone a radical and momentous change since the Vedic ages, had curtailed several rights of women and had limited the participation of women in public life.
The East India Company, though a blot on the renowned past of India, introduced several changes in the society, the major one being in the legal system of India and in unifying India as one nation with one law. This process of introducing cumulative laws in British India dates back to 1829 when the then Governor General of India, William Bentinck, abolished the evil practice of Sati. Since then India has moderately and cautiously marched towards the target of achieving inclusivity of women in all sectors and, in pursuance to the same, has introduced various and diverse laws to achieve this goal.
The Constitution of India acknowledges this intention of intensifying and escalating India. Therefore, the forefathers, realizing the fundamental need of this, ensured to incorporate the same as a fundamental right in the Constitution under Article 15.
Despite the enactment of stringent laws in India, the status of women has not changed much in the rural region. The concept of equality is still at a nascent stage in these areas, with women being considered the possession of family and their honor. This mind set has led to killing of several women in the name of family honor and has raged several families at length. Gender-based crime and discrimination is pervasive and ubiquitous not just in the hamlets of India but across the length and breadth of India.
2. Laws For Women In India: Providing Judicial Protection.
Safety laws for women in India are as follows: i) The Constitution of India, ii) The India Penal Code, 1860, iii) Married Women’s Property Act, 1874, iv) Guardians and Wards Act, 1890, v) Christian Marriage Act, 1872, vi) Indian Evidence Act, 1872, vii) The Married Women’s Property Act, 1964, viii) Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923, ix) The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, x) Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, xi) Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, xii) Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987, xiii) Cinematograph Amendment Bill, 2019, xiv) Births, Deaths & Marriages Registration Act, 2003, xv) Minimum Wages Act, 1948, xvi) Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, xvii) Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929, xviii) Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application, 1937, xix) Indecent Representation of Women (Prevention) Act, 1986, xx) Special Marriage Act, 1954, xxi) Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, xxii) Hindu Successions Act, 1956, xxiii) Foreign Marriage Act, 1969, xxiii) Family Courts Act, 1984, xxiv) Maternity Benefit Act, 2017, xxv) Hindu Adoption & Maintenance Act, 1956, xxvi) Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, xxvii) The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020, xxviii) The National Commission for Women Act, 1990, xxix) Pre- conception and Pre- natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994, xxx) Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, xxxi) Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal) Act, 2013, xxxii) The Indian Divorce (Amendment) Bill, 2001, xxxiii) Equal Remuneration Act, 1976, xxxiv) Hindu Widows Remarriage and Property Act, 1989, xxxv) Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, and xxxvi) Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 2019.
2. A The Indian Penal Code, 1860.
Under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 crime of obscenity identified against women under sections 292, 293 and 294. Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 protects women from dowry death punishing the offender with an imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life.
Section 375 and section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 punishes for committing a rape of a woman punishing a sentence of imprisonment for a term of less than seven years or whoever being a police officer or being a public servant or being on the management or on the staff of a jail, remand home or other place of custody or being on the management or on the staff of a hospital or woman knowing her to be pregnant or women under twelve years of age or commits gang rape is punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than ten years but which may be for life and shall also be liable to fine.
Section 326A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 punishes with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than ten years but which may extend to imprisonment for life, and with fine for voluntarily causing grievous hurt by using of acid and in section 326B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 punishes with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than five years but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine for voluntarily throwing or attempting to throw acid etc.
Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 punishes with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine for husband or relative of the husband of a women subjection any woman subject to cruelty.
Sections 354, 354A, 354B, 354C, and 354D, Indian Penal Code, 1860 punishes the offender for outraging the modesty of a women. Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 identifies the crime of word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman and punishes her with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.
2. B The Indian Evidence Act, 1872.
Section 113A of The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 identifies the crime of presumption as to the abetment of suicide by a married woman.
2. C Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.
Section 2 and section 3 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, (Act No. 28 of 1961) identifies the crime of dowry and punishes the offender with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years, and with the fine which shall not be less than fifteen thousand rupees or the amount of the value of such dowry, whichever is more for giving or taking dowry.
2.D The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1987.
Section 6 of the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1987 punishes for the crimes under section 3 which finds prohibition of advertisements containing indecent representation of women and under section 4 which finds prohibition of publication or sending by post of books, pamphlets, etc; Containing indecent representation of women that gives punishment on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, and with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees, and in the event of a second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment for term of not less than six months but which may extend to five years and also with a fine not less than ten thousand rupees but which may extend to one lakh rupees.
2. E The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
Sections 12 to 14 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 identifies application to Magistrate, service to notice and counseling in case of domestic violence against women.
Sections 15 to 17 of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 identifies assistance of a welfare expert, proceedings to be held in camera, right to reside in a shared house hold in case of domestic violence against women. Sections 18 to 22 of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 identifies protection orders, residence orders, monetary reliefs, custody orders and compensation orders in the matter of domestic violence against women.
Sections 23 to 26 of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 finds power to grant interim and ex-party orders, court to give copies of order free of cost, duration and alteration of orders, and relief in other suits and legal proceedings in case of domestic violence against women. Sections 27 to 29 of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 recognizes that jurisdiction, procedure, and appeal if and only if domestic violence occurs against women.
2. F The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013.
The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013 that came into force on February 3, 2013 amended as well as inserted new sections in the Indian Penal Code with regard to sexual offences. Some of the new offences recognized by the Criminal Law Amendment Act are acid attacks, voyeurism, stalking, deliberate and wanton disrobing of women and sexual harassment. In 2013, India adopted its first legislation precisely and correctly addressing the issue of workplace sexual harassment; the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 ("POSH Act") enacted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
2. G Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017.
Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 widens and enlarges paid maternity leave for women employees with less than two surviving children, from the original twelve (12) weeks to twenty-six (26) weeks. A maximum of eight (8) weeks can be taken before the expected delivery date and the remaining after childbirth. Women expecting their third child were also provided with the right to take twelve(12) weeks of paid maternity leave—six (6) weeks before childbirth and six after. The Maternity Amendment provided for mothers adopting a child below three months of age, or “commissioning mothers” to take twelve (12) weeks of maternity leave from the date of receiving the child. The Maternity Amendment enables mothers to work from home after completing twenty-six (26) weeks of leave subject to their work profiles and the employer’s consent.
The Maternity Amendment also authorized and directed establishments employing 50 or more employees to have a creche which is required to have stipulated and specified facilities and amenities. Women employees have a right to visit the crèche four times a day, including during their rest interval.
Henceforth, Women Helpline Dial, Women Helpline (All India) Women in distress- 1091, Women Helpline Domestic Abuse- 181, National Commission For Women (NCW)- 011-26942369, 26944754, State wise National Commission For Women (NCW)- 011-23237166, 23234918, Student / Child Helpline- 1098, National Human Right Commission- 011-23385368/9810298900.
West Bengal Helpline Numbers of Women; West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights (WBCPCR)- 9830056006 , 9836078780, Swayam – West bengal NGO - 033-24863367/3368/3357, West Bengal Women commission- 033-23595609/033-23210154.
ALL INDIA WOMEN'S CONFERENCE Helpline Dial- 011-43389100/011-43389101/ 011-43389102/011-43389103.