India is a country known for its rich beautiful culture and tradition. Women
are given the place of goddess Lakshmi in the Indian culture. But by seeing the
last few year crimes against women, there seems the safety and security of women
are at stake. As we can literally observe that crimes against women occur every
minute in India. There has been a decline in the women status from ancient to
medieval period which is continued in such an advanced era.
Each day a single woman, a girl child, a young girl, a mother and women from all
walks of life are being assaulted, molested, and violated. The streets, public
transport, public spaces, in particular, have become the territory of the
hunters. There are certain common crimes against women are rape, dowry deaths,
sexual harassment at home or workplace, kidnapping and abduction, cruelty by
husband, relatives, assault on a woman, child and sex, trafficking, attack,
child marriages and many more.
Though the Constitution of India has given the equal rights of dignity,
equality, and freedom from gender discrimination but in practical filed no one
bothers to follow such law until and unless the people's mindset towards a woman
does not change.
All you need to know the Rights of Women in India:
When we talk about the rights for women in India then we can take into
consideration both the Constitutional Rights and Legal Rights. The
constitutional rights are those which are incorporated in the various provisions
of the constitution. The legal right refers to those which are incorporated in
the various laws (Acts) of the Parliament and the State Legislatures. To be more
specific, let's discuss the rights through the following points:
Rights of Woman enshrined in the Constitution of India:
- Article 15(1) provides that the state shall not discriminate against any
citizen of India on the ground of sex
- Article 15(3) provides that the state is empowered to make any special
provision for women i.e. the state can make affirmative discrimination in
favour of women.
- Article 16(2) provides that no citizen shall be discriminated against or
be ineligible for any employment or office under the state on the ground of
- Article 23(1) provides that traffic in human beings and forced labour is
- Article 39(a) provides the state to secure for men and women equally the
right to an adequate means of livelihood
- Article 39(d) provides the state to secure equal pay for equal work for
both Indian men and women.
- Article 39(e) provides that 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 avocations unsuited to their strength.
- Article 42 provides that the state shall make provision for securing
just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief.
- Article 51-A (e) provides that it shall be the duty of every citizen of
India to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women
- Article 243-D(3) provides that one-third of the total number of seats to
be filled by direct election in every Panchayat shall be reserved for women.
- Article 243-D(4) provides that one-third of the total number of offices
of Chairpersons in the Panchayats at each level shall be reserved for women.
- Article 243-T(3) provides that one-third of the total number of seats to
be filled by direct election in every Municipality shall be reserved for
- Article 243-T(4) provides that the offices of Chairpersons in the
Municipalities shall be reserved for women in such manner as the State
Legislature may provide.
Legal Rights of Women enshrined under various Indian Legislations:
- Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (2005) is a comprehensive
legislation to protect women in India from all forms of domestic violence by
the husband or any of his relatives. Domestic violence is subjected to any
kind of physical, sexual, mental, verbal or emotional.
- The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1986 (PITA) has amended The
Immoral Traffic (Suppression) Act, 1956 (SITA). This Act is the premier
legislation only for prevention of trafficking for commercial sexual
exploitation i.e. for the purpose of preventing and ultimately prohibiting
prostitution for women and girls to criminalize sex work. In 2006, the
Ministry of Women and Child Development proposed an amendment bill i.e. the
Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2006 that has yet to be passed.
- 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 practice of Sati or the voluntary
or forced burning or burying alive of widows, and to prohibit glorification
of this action through the observance of any ceremony.
- Dowry Prohibition Act (1961) prohibits the giving or receiving of dowry
at or before or any time after the marriage from women
- Maternity Benefit Act (1961) protects the employment of women during the
time of her maternity and entitles her to a maternity benefit and certain
other benefits. The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 an amendment to
the Maternity Benefit Act (1961) has been passed. The Act is applicable to
contractual or consultant women employees, as well as to the women who are
already on maternity leave at the time of enforcement of the Amendment Act.
- 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 foeticide.
- 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.
- Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act (1986) protects the
rights of Muslim women who have been divorced by or have obtained divorce
from their husbands.
- Hindu Succession Act (1956) recognizes the right of women to inherit
parental property equally with men. Then there came the Hindu Succession
(Amendment) Act 2005 granting daughters the right to inherit ancestral
property along with their male relatives.
- 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 Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place (Prevention and Protection)
Act (2013) provides protection to women from sexual harassment at all
workplaces both in public and private sector, whether organised or
- Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016 prohibits
the engagement of children in all occupations and of adolescents in
hazardous occupations and processes, where adolescents refer to those under
18 years and children to those under 14 years.
- The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO Act) 2012 was
formulated in order to effectively address sexual abuse and sexual
exploitation of children. It defines a child as any person below the age of
18 years and provides protection to all children under the age of 18 years
from the offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and pornography.
Apart from the above-mentioned rights, there are following general laws that
every woman should know:
Right to free aid When a woman goes to the police station without being accompanied by a
lawyer she should be aware of the fact that she has a right to get the legal
aid and that she should demand it.
Right to privacy A woman who has been raped has a right to record her statement in private in
front of the magistrate without being overheard by anyone else or with a
lady constable or a police officer in person. Under section 164 of the
Criminal Procedure Code, the cops will have to give the privacy to the
victim without stressing her in front of masses.
Right to Zero FIR As according to the Supreme Court ruling a rape victim can register her
police complaint from any police station under the Zero FIR.
Right to no arrest According to a Supreme Court ruling, a woman cannot be arrested after sunset
and before sunrise. Except, in case the woman has committed a serious crime,
the police require to get it in writing from the magistrate explaining why
the arrest is necessary during the night.
Right to not being called to the police station According to section 160 of the Criminal Procedure Code, women cannot be
called to the police station for interrogation. The police can interrogate a
woman at her residence in the presence of a woman constable and family
members or friends.
Right to confidentiality Under no conditions a rape victim's identity of can be revealed. Neither the
police nor media can make known the name of the victim in public. Section
228-A of the Indian Penal Code makes the disclosure of a victim's identity a
Recent amendments to certain laws:
- The gang rape that took place on the night of 16th December 2012 took
the entire nation in such a outrage stage that it forced to give a new shape
to the criminal law by the enactment of the most awaited Act i.e. the
Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 Thus the Act has included the following
- Section 354A provides for Sexual harassment and punishment for sexual
- Section 354B provides for Assault or use of criminal force to woman with
intent to disrobe.
- Section 354C provides for Voyeurism.
- Section 354D provides for Stalking.
- The definition of Rape under section 376 has been amended.
- The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017 makes
instant Triple Talaq in any form illegal and void. The proposed law
would also give the woman the right to approach a magistrate seeking subsistence allowance for herself and her minor children.
Article 16(2) provides that no citizen shall be discriminated against or be
ineligible for any employment or office under the state on the ground of sex.
... Article 39(d) provides the state to secure equal pay for equal work for both
Indian men and women.
Written Rajat Singh
- Law College Dehradun