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Women Laws in India

Women around the world, and especially in Indian society, have long been subject to the discrimination and tortures inflicted by the so-called patriarchal society. Women have always been considered as the weaker section of society, and hence made to believe in male supremacy. They were always expected to be obedient to the male gender, expected to serve the male gender, were silenced when they were subject to violence by those men. A woman who obediently went through all of this without voicing her opinion was deemed to be fit for the society or else, termed as uncultured and shamed for her mere existence.

As times change, social and cultural norms are also expected to change. However, it's saddening that even in this modern era, when bigger things are happening and there are bigger problems in the world, our society still views women's freedom and right to equality as one of the biggest threats.

The problem lies with people's mindsets, and until the male chauvinist mentality is shaken from the very core, women are bound to be subject to such misogyny. Thus, it is very vital that women must be educated and made aware of their rights provided by the constitution of India so that they don't give in to such societal pressures and discrimination.

The Indian Constitution has time and again propagated the values of equality among the citizens and has empowered women in all social, cultural and economic spheres. It prohibits discrimination based on caste, religion, sex etc. These laws were enacted for the upliftment of women so that they live an honourable and dignified life. Only when a woman has equal occupational rights, educational rights, decision-making rights, freedom and the right to choose what's good for herself, she is said to be equal to that of men. Gender equality is the essence of the Indian Constitution and thus, the following are the laws enacted for the protection of women's rights.

Article 14
Article 14 of the Indian Constitution guaranteed equality to all persons be it, it's own citizens or non-citizens. It states that:
The state shall not deny to any person equality before the law or equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.

Article 15
This article prohibits discrimination based on religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.

Article 15 (2) provides for the right to access to public places and services without any discrimination.
Article 15 (3) provides for special protection to women and children by safeguarding promoting their interests in all social spheres.
Article 15 (4) provides for the advancement and upliftment of the backward classes of citizens.
This article was enacted to improve and increase the participation of women in all activities such as politics, education etc. and to improve their social standing.

Article 16
This article states that:
no citizen shall, on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them, be ineligible for or discriminated against in respect or, any employment or appointment to any office under the state. In other words, it guarantees equality in opportunity for all citizens relating to employment or office under the government.

Article 21
Article 21 states:
No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law. It secures two things- The right to life and the Right to personal liberty. This is not just limited to the mere act of breathing but the right to live with dignity, honour, and right to healthcare, nutrition and to breathe fresh air.

This article also includes the right to privacy which is often denied to women. They aren't allowed to live independently and are subject to interference in all matters.

Article 23
Article 23 forbids any form of exploitation. It prohibits the trafficking of human beings and any form of forced labour and states that such offence is punishable in accordance with the law. Women and children are generally the victims of such crimes.

Article 39
Article 39 (a) promotes justice through the provision of equal opportunity and free legal aid, to all the weaker sections of the society. This is especially useful to women too, as they often cannot seek justice due to money and other constraints.

Article 39 (d) talks about equal pay for equal work. It is a well-known fact that women do not get equal opportunities in the workplace as men do. Men are always given priority over women during promotions, increments etc. Also, women are always given lower salaries than their male counterparts, a problem that needs to be seriously addressed.

Article 42
This article seeks to ensure humane and just working conditions and maternity relief for women.

Women are time and again subjected to inhuman and unjust working conditions. One in four women has experienced some sort of sexual and mental harassment at the workplace. This article was enacted to provide relief to women against such harassment.

In Vishakha Ranjan v. State of Rajasthan, a case was filed to prevent sexual harassment of women at all workplaces. It was held that such harassment violates the fundamental rights of women and is also in violation of the principle of gender equality and the right to life and personal liberty.

Article 46
Article 46 addresses the promotion of education and economic interests of the weaker sections of the society and their protection for all sorts of injustice and exploitation. This has given women, all educational and economic rights without any discrimination.

Article 47
This article is included in the DPSP's and instructs the State to raise and improve the level of nutrition and standard of living and public health. This gives women the basic rights to healthcare and nutrition, for their upliftment.

Article 51
Article 51A (e) imposes a fundamental duty on every citizen to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women.

Article 243
Article 243D (3) and Article 243T (3) makes provision for the reservation of seats for women of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Panchayats and Municipalities.
Article 243D (4) makes provision for the reservation of office of chairperson in Panchayats and Municipalities at each level.
This is one of the very important articles which does not only protects the dignity and interests of women, but also vests power in her hands, which was far from reality in older times.

Article 300
Women have always been subject to controversies regarding their property rights. Many cultures and societies deny women their property rights because the men of our society reserved these rights only for themselves.

Article 300A of the Indian Constitution provides that no person shall be denied their rights to own property, alone as well as in association with others.

Apart from these, various other provisions have been made in the IPC for the protection of women against crimes.

Some of the important provisions are:
Section 359, 360, 366
These sections deal with the crime of kidnapping. Kidnapping has a lot of meanings. It means either to kidnap someone from India or to kidnap someone from lawful guardianship (without the guardian's consent). It also includes the abduction of women, compelling her for marriage and forcefully trying to establish sexual relations with her. Such a crime is punishable with imprisonment up to 10 years and a fine.

Section 509
This section deals with the crime of eve-teasing. Eve teasing includes all sorts of public harassment, be it physical, verbal or mental. This is one of the biggest problems that women go through in public, which makes her feel insecure and she loses the confidence to fearlessly walk around in public. The punishment for such crimes is imprisonment up to 3 years and a fine.

Section 376, 376A, 376B, 376C, 376D
These sections deal with a very heinous crime, which is rape. Rape is one of the biggest threats in Indian society, with its number increasing every single day. India is increasingly becoming popular among foreign nations in light of these crimes. The failure of the legislature and government to devise strong laws and punishments for such crimes is the reason for such an increase. Rape can be categorized into the rape of a minor girl, gang rape, marital rape etc. Such offences are punishable with imprisonment up to 7 years to 20 years or life imprisonment and fine.

Cyber Crimes
Rampant advancement in technology also comes with rampant advancement in crimes. The modern era is witnessing new ways in which crimes are being executed. Cybercrimes are one of them. Women are major victims of these crimes. Pornography, bullying, illegally recording videos, abusing etc happen on a regular basis. It is necessary that women are protected against and thus, punishments for such crimes range from imprisonment up to 3 years and a fine.

Dowry Deaths
Mental and physical exploitation of women in the name of dowry has been a common practice in Indian society for ages altogether. Such exploitation leads to deaths in the form of murder or even suicide by the woman. Laws have been made which has criminalized the demanding of dowry which is punishable with imprisonment and a fine.

Women are given protection against stalking in any form, be it on the internet, through electronic mediums, physical etc. Such practice breaches the privacy of a woman and thus, is an offence punishable with imprisonment up to 3-5 years and a fine.

Apart from these, various initiatives are taken for women like National Commission for Women, National Plan of Action for the Girl Child, National Policy for the Empowerment of Women, Women Helpline Scheme etc.

These are some of the offences that women fall victim to daily. Such rights are basic human rights and it is a shame on the society and the country at large that women have to especially demand them for surviving in society. It is important that women are educated about these laws so that they can live fearlessly and have the confidence to fight for them.

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