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A Study On Gender-Based Violence In India

Gender-Based Violence is one of the major issues faced by Nations all around the world. It refers to the violence or a harmful act against an individual based on gender. Prevention of gender-based violence is really a great challenge faced by our Nation. Even though there are several Constitutional provisions and several laws enacted by our legislatures based on those constitutional provisions, gender-based violence is still existing in all corners of our Nation.

So, the aim of this paper is to find out the real cause behind this human rights violation.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) defines Gender-based Violence as:
"Harmful acts directed at an individual based on their gender, it is rooted in gender inequality, the abuse of power and harmful norms. Gender-based violence is a serious violation of human rights and a life-threatening health and protection issue."

Gender-Based Violence in India

In India, gender-based violence (GBV) is recognised as several ways of inhuman activities including verbal and coercion, causing physical injuries by way of severe bodily harm sometimes that may lead to rape or sexual abuse.

Major Types of Gender-based violence:

GBV can be broadly classified into 6 types; such as physical, verbal, psychological, sexual, economic and domestic violence.

These types of gender-based violence can be observed in our society in several ways such as:

  • GBV against disabled persons:
    Disabled human beings of all age groups are victims of social discrimination and violence based on gender.
     
  • GBV against Transgenders:
    Several landmark decisions were made by the Indian Judicial system in favour of transgender people and their rights. Even in such a favourable condition, these groups of human beings are victims of several inhuman activities such as forced sterilization, marriage restrictions and lack of social acceptance in our developing society.
     
  • GBV against Women:
    GBV against women in our nation is another serious threat faced by one out of three women in our nation irrespective of their age, colour, religion, education, financial and social status in our civilized society. Sometimes they have to face these issues in their own home, on the streets, at the workplace etc.
     
  • GBV against infants and girl child:
    In India, in all spheres of life there are some privileges given to boys than girls by following some cultural traditions. This sometimes leads to aborting the female infants before birth and even killing the girl child after birth.

The Constitutional Provisions against Gender-Based Violence:

The Constitutional framers had included several provisions in it in the form of Directive Principles, Fundamental Duties, the Preamble, and Fundamental Rights in the fundamental law of our land in order to prevent gender-based violence. Here they not just included those provisions in the Constitution but they included to authorize the centre to take appropriate measures to avoid this type of violence.

Based on those provisions, the Central Government had taken several remedial measures and also signed in several international treaties for guaranteeing equality for women. But the real problem is that most of the persons whose rights were violated are unaware of the basic rights which are guaranteed in the constitution of India.

Now, let's discuss some of the provisions which were included in the Indian Constitution to prevent gender-based violence. The following are the constitutional provisions:

Article 14:
This article authorizes the State to accept every person equally. "The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India."

Article 15(1):
Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. Here the State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.

Article 15(3):
This article of the Constitution states: "Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children." Based on this provision, the central legislatures have enacted the child Sexual Harassment Act, the Domestic Violence Act, Workplace Harassment Law, and the Hindu Succession Act and also made amendments to criminal law recently (Nirbhaya case).

Article 16(1):
There shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters of employment under the State. (2) No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth or any of them, be ineligible for any office under the State.

Article 39(d):
States that the health and strength of workers irrespective of whether men, women or children shall not be abused or manipulated. Further, economic necessity/condition shall not be the reason for entering such avocation that is unsuitable for specific age or strength.

Article 39(A):
According to Article 39A of the Indian constitution the State shall secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice, on a basis of equal opportunity, and shall, in particular, provide free legal aid.

Article 42 - Provision for just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief.
Article 46 "The State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation."

Legislations against GBV
Based on the Constitutional provisions several legislations were enacted by the legislatures in order to meet different aspects of GBV.

Some of the acts are as follows
  • Dowry Prohibition Act (1961)
  • Amendments to the Indian Penal Code, 1862,
  • Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act (1986),
  • Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act (1986),
  • Domestic Violence Act (2005),
  • Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (2006)
  • Information and Technology Act (2008),
  • The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (2012),
  • Criminal Law (Amendment) Act (2013),
  • Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act (2013),
  • Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act (2016),
  • Decriminalization of Gay Sex (Section 377-2018),
  • Criminal Law (Amendment) Act (Death penalty for raping a minor- 2018) etc.
Conclusion
The gender-based violence in India is still existing even after all protective measures taken by the constitutional framers and the legislatures. By examining all the aspects of this menace, it is very much clear that we are not successfully implementing the existing laws in our nation. Proper implementation of those laws is highly necessary. Another important factor which leads to the existence of this menace is the lack of proper knowledge of the victim about their rights.

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