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Change In Law With Respect To Women

Swami Vivekananda say, Just as a bird can’t fly with one wing only, a Nation can’t march forward if the women are left behind.

In India, the constitutionally guaranteed equality for women is often contradictory to the harsh societal reality of the land and its cultural norms. The status and rights of women in Indian society have undergone many changes and have always remained a matter of great concern for the socio-religious and political elites of India. The role played by a woman in her personal and family spheres has a great impact on society.

With the change in the struggle for nationalism , there has been change in the legal landscape of women's rights through the colonial era, the post-colonial era in India has been marked by sweeping changes such as globalization, neo-liberal policies and the leaps and bounds in technological development.

Changes Brought In Respect To Women:

The Indian Armed Forces began recruiting women to non-medical positions in 1992. Women started attending school and this brought a change in India’s education and economic development. In urban India, girls are nearly on a par with boys in terms of education. However, in rural India, girls continue to be less educated than boys.

Based on the educational background, men with a bachelor's degree earned on average 16 percent higher median wages than women in years 2015, 2016 and 2017, while master's degree holders experience even higher pay gap. Men with a four- or five-year degree or the equivalent of a master's degree have on average earned 33.7 percent higher median wages than women.

While India passed the Equal Remuneration Act way back in 1976, which prohibits discrimination in remuneration on grounds of sex. But in practice, the pay disparity still exist. Women started owning businesses and one of the popular story is of Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad. In most Indian families, women do not own any property in their own names, and do not get a share of parental property. Due to weak enforcement of laws protecting them, women continue to have little access to land and property.

In India, women's property rights vary depending on religion, and tribe, and are subject to a complex mix of law and custom, but in principle the move has been towards granting women equal legal rights, especially since the passing of The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005.

Violence Against Women And Laws Related To Them

Crimes Against Women Under The Special And Local Law:

  • The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956
  • The Dowry (Prohibition) Act, 1961
  • The Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929
  • The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986
  • The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987
  • Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
  • The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal ) Act, 2013.

Crimes against Women under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC):

  • Acid Attack (Sections 326A and 326B)
  • Rape (Sections 375, 376, 376A, 376B, 376C, 376D and 376E)
  • Attempt to commit rape (Section 376/511)
  • Kidnapping and abduction for different purposes (Sections 363–373)
  • Murder, Dowry death, Abetment of Suicide, etc. (Sections 302, 304B and 306)
  • Cruelty by husband or his relatives (Section 498A)
  • Outraging the modesty of women (Section 354)
  • Sexual harassment (Section 354A)
  • Assault on women with intent to disrobe a woman (Section 354B)
  • Voyeurism (Section 354C)
  • Stalking (Section 354D)
  • Importation of girls upto 21 years of age (Section 366B)
  • Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman (Section 509).

Some Women Rights Related To Arrest

According to National Human Rights Commission guidelines on arrest, As far as practicable, women police officers should be associated where women are arrested that too, arrest of women between sunset or sunrise should be avoided. According to S. 51(2) when it is necessary to cause a female to be searched, the search shall be by another female with strict regard to decency. Body searches of females should only be carried out by women and with strict regard to decency. Women should be guarded by female constables/police officers. They must be questioned in the presence of policewomen.

Special Initiatives For Women

  • National Commission for Women
  • Reservation for Women in Local Self –Government.
  • National Policy for the Empowerment of Women, 2001.

Case Laws
  • Nirbhaya Case - Amendment: Juvenile Justice Act of 2000.
  • Shah Bano Begum vs Muhammad Ahmed Khan - Amendment: Section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code 1973.
  • KM Nanavati vs State of Maharashtra - Impact: If Jury could be influenced, thereby abolish the jury system i.e. suspension of jury trial.
  • Mathura - Amendment: The Criminal Law Act, 1983.

Women play many roles in their lives, that of a daughter, sister, wife, daughter-in-law, mother, friend, colleague and the list is never ending. The change in the laws relating to women and the legal status of women in India has evolved. Women of today are ready to take part in politics, military sector, sports, economic service, technology sector, etc. With the change in women’s attitude and also the crime they face, there has been changes in Indian legal system.

The government has put together many schemes especially for the empowerment of women. Many seats are reserved in parliament to encourage women participation. Education of girls is made free and compulsory in government schools to encourage women to join different institutions and render their valuable services. Our armed forces have seen a rise in women enrollment.

Even though the women continue to face new challenges they are forging a new paths towards equality and achieving socio- political and economic empowerment. And Indian law with its evolution is being more supportive towards women and treating them with equality.

Written By: Ria Khandelwal ( 4th year BALLB , Tilak Maharashtra Vidhyapeeth , Pune).

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