Before going into the core of the topic concerned, the first and the foremost
task is to understand the meaning and essence of the subject matter which is
Gender Neutrality. From various sources, I have gathered to know that gender
neutrality describes the idea that policies, language and other social
institutions should avoid distinguishing roles according to people’s sex or
gender, in order to avoid discrimination arising from the impression that there
are social roles foe which one gender is more suited than another. Gender
neutrality emphasizes on equal treatment of men and women socially, economically
and legally with no discrimination.
From the pre-historic era to late 60s, the condition and status of women was
quite bad. In the ancient India, epics and Puranas equated women with property.
Manu dictated that a woman would be dependent on her father in childhood, on her
husband in youth and when her lord is dead, to her sons. Leave equality apart,
women were not even treated as human being, they were just commodities in the
eyes of men by whom you can make your daily chores done. Women were victims of
widespread illiteracy, segregation in the dark and dingy rooms in the name of
purdah, forced child marriage, indeterminable widowhood, rigidity of fidelity
and opposition to remarriage of widows turning many of them into prostitutes,
polygamy, female infanticide, violence and force to follow Sati, and the
complete denial of individuality.
But the thinking and the perspective of the world towards women started to
change a little with time. The first leader of our free India, Pandit Jawaharlal
Nehru said “You can tell the condition of a nation by looking at the status of
its women”. The fight for gender equality and women’s status began in India in
the 20th century. Western-educated leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and others
initiated this struggle by stating that a woman is completely equal to a men in
all the senses. During the struggle of independence, we have seen millions of
women, educated and illiterate, housewives and widows, students and elderly,
participated in India’s freedom movement because of Gandhi’s influence. Mahatma
Gandhi, the father of this free nation in which we are living today, stood for
women rights in the dark misty period when women were confined to their houses
and children. He was having an absolute faith in inherent power of women, he
emphasized it by saying- “complete emancipation of women and her equality with
man is the final goal of our social development, whose realization no power on
earth can prevent”.
But, the roads of change is long and hard. When there were women like Vijaya
Lakshmi Pandit- the first women (and the first Indian) president of the United
Nations General Assembly, Savitribai Phule- started India’s first school for
girls, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay- social activist and Indian freedom fighter,
Captain Prem Mathur-the first woman pilot in India, Sarojini Naidu- the
“Nightingale of India”, Sucheta Kriplani- the first woman Chief Minister in
India, Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi- to date, the only female Prime minister of
India, Justice Anna Chandy- the first female judge in India, and the first woman
in India too become a High Court judge, Captain Lakshmi sahgal- Indian
independence revolutionary, Rani Lakshmibai- who don’t know her, such a brave
woman who led rebellion against the British, some women were still looked upon
inferior and subordinate to men. Indira Gandhi’s rule as Prime Minister of India
was a triumph for women in leadership, yet the nation under her rule was
populated by hundreds of millions of impoverished women, whose lives changed
remarkably little during her term. India was no less than the days when Goddess
like Sita had to defend herself against her husband’s accusations of unchastity,
impure, infidelity and Goddess like Draupadi had no option to say no to her
brother-in laws who were pulling off her saree in the court, when her husband
lost her in a gamble. Women were an object for men then, and were still no less
than an object.
Let us see the whole aspect through this study.
Need For Gender Neutrality
There is an urgent need of Gender Neutral Society. Equality should be in real
terms, not just in our thoughts and books. The liberties which are given to boys
by birth, should be the same for girls too. Male or female should become only a
matter of words, in our conscious mind both should be same, with equal rights
and equal duties. From home to school to workplace, everyone should be treated
equal irrespective of their sex. In corporate world, female employees earn less
than similarly qualified men employess because of gender bias. But
fundamentally, this is against fairness and equality. The overall objective of
gender neutrality is a society which women and men enjoy the same opportunities,
rights and obligations in all spheres of life.
Gender neutrality is intrinsically linked to sustainable development ,
educational attainment and political empowerment. There is a need to make the
world a better place for current and future generations. It will only happen
when all people are valued as equals that we can really achieve a brighter
future, full of ideas and inputs from people across society.
Provisions For Gender Neutrality
1. Article 14 – Equality before law for women
The first and the foremost right which is guaranteed to all the persons is the
right to equality. Equality forbids inequalities, unfairness and arbitrariness.
Article 14 provides equality before law - 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 14 uses two expressions, “equality before the law” and “equal
protection of the laws”. The underline principle of Article 14 is that, all
persons and things similarly circumstanced should be treated alike, both in
privileges conferred and liabilities imposed. Amongst equals, the law should be
equal and should be equally administered. In the case Sanaboina Satyanarayna v.
Government of Andhra Pradesh , they formulated a scheme for prevention of crime
against women. In prisons also prisoners were classified into two categories,
first prisoners guilty of crime against women and second prisoners who are not
guilty of crime against women. Prisoners who are guilty of crime against women
challenge the court saying that their right to equality is deprived. The court
held that classification to keep away prisoners for crimes against women from
the benefits of remission, was reasonable, proper and not violative of Article
In Air India v. Nargesh Meerza, the Supreme Court struck down the Air India and
India Airlines regulations on retirement and pregnancy during the services as
air hostesses, as unconstitutional. These rules were held to be unreasonable,
arbitrary and therefore, violative of Article 14 of the constitution.
2. Article 15 – Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race,
caste, sex or place of birth.
Article 15(1) – Article15 (1) says that ‘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(1) is in absolute terms. The grounds of discrimination which are
prohibited are religion-race, caste, sex or place of birth. In the case Raj
Rajeshwari Devi v. State of U.P. , the U.P. Court of Wards Act, 1912 was
challenged. Under this act, while male proprietor could be declared incapable of
managing his property only on one of the five grounds mentioned therein and that
too after giving him an opportunity of showing cause as to why such a
declaration should not be meet, a female proprietor could be declared incapable
to manage her property on any ground, without giving any her show-cause notice.
The provision was held by the court to be bad in law as it amounts to
discrimination on the basis of sex.
Article 15(3) – Article 15(3) says that ‘nothing in this article shall prevent
the state from making any special provision for women and children’.
As per Article 15(1), discrimination on the ground of sex is prohibited, but
Article 15(3) allows the state to make special provisions for women and
children. To elucidate on the provisions of criminal law, as per section 497 IPC,
the offense of adultery can be committed only by a male and not by a female who
cannot even be punished as an abettor.
3. Article 16 - Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment
Article 16(1) – Article 16(1) says, ‘there shall be equality of opportunity to
all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office
under the state’.
The main object of Article 16(1) is to create a constitutional right to equality
of opportunity in matters of public employment. Equality of opportunity for all
under the state means that public employment or appointment to any office under
the state means that public employment and appointment to public office shall be
on grounds which do not, exclude any citizen or class of citizen.
Article 16(2) – Article 16(2) says, ‘no citizen shall on grounds only of
religion, race, caste, sex, decent, place of birth, residence or any of them, be
ineligible for, or discriminated against in respect of, any employment or office
under the state’.
While Article 16(1) gives in general terms, the right to equality of
opportunity, Article 16(2) envisages discrimination against the citizen on
grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, decent, place of birth and residence. In
the case of C.B. Muthamma v. Union of India, a service rule requiring a female
employee to obtain written permission of the government before the solemnisation
of her marriage and denial of right to be appointed on the ground that she was a
married woman, was held to be discriminatory.
4. Article 39-A Equal justice and free legal aid
It says that the state shall secure that the operation of legal system promotes
justice, on a basis of equal opportunity, and shell, in particular, provide free
legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure
that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason
of economic and other disabilities. The principles contained in Article 39-A are
fundamental and caste a duty on state to secure that the operation of the legal
system promotes justice, on the basis of equal opportunities and further
mandates to provide free legal aid in anyway by legislation or otherwise, so
that justice is not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other
5. Article 42 – Provision for just and humane conditions of work and maternity
Article 42 lays down that state shall make provision for securing just and
humane conditions of work and maternity relief. In the case D. Bhuvan Mohan
Patnaik v. State of A.P. The court stated that directed principles of state
policy contained in Article 42 of the constitution maybe extended to the living
conditions in jail. Giving meaning to Article 42, the court upheld and granted
maternity benefit to non- regularised female workers.
6. Article 46 – Promotion of education and economic interests of Scheduled
Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections.
Article 46 says that the state shall promote with special care the educational
and economic interests of weaker sections of people, and in particular, of the
Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes and shall protect them from social
injustice and all forms of exploitation.
7. Article 47 – Duty of the state to raise the level of nutrition and the
standard of living and to improve the public health
Article 47 of the constitution says that the state shall regard the raising of
the level of nutrition are in the standards of living of its people and the
improvement of public health as among its primary duties and, in particular, the
state shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption, except for
medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to
8. Article 51-A – Fundamental duties
It shall be the duty of every citizen of India –
(e) to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the
people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional
diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of the women.
9. Article 238-D – Reservation of seats in panchayat
It states –
(3) not less than one-third (including the no. of seats reserved for women
belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Tribes) of the total no. of seats to be
filled by direct election in every panchayat shall be reserved for women and
such seats maybe allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a panchayat.
(4) not less than one-third of the total no. of offices of chairpersons in the
panchayats at each level to be reserved for women.
10. Article 243-T – Reservation of seats
It states –
(3) not less than one-third (including the no. of seats reserved for women
belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes) of the total no. of
seats to be filled by direct election in every municipality shall be reserved
for women and such seats maybe allotted by rotation to different constituencies
in a municipality.
(4) the offices of chairpersons in the municipalities shall be reserved for the
Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes and women in such manner as the
legislature of a state may, by law, provide.
• The crimes identified under Indian Penal Code
1. Rape (Sec. 376 IPC)
The crux of the offence of the rape under section 375,IPC is sexual intercourse
by a man with a woman against her will and without her consent under anyone of
the six circumstances mentioned below:-
(a) Against her will,
(b) Without her consent,
(c) With consent obtained by putting her or any other person in whom she is
interested under fear of death or of hurt,
(d) With consent but given under misconception of fact that the man was her
(e) Consent given by reason of unsoundness of mind, or undue influence of
intoxication or any other stupefying or unwholesome substance,
(f) Woman under 18 with or without consent.
Thus, it is only a man who can be liable for rape; a woman cannot be held guilty
of rape unlike English law where woman is equally liable for rape as in case of
a man. However, a woman can be liable for abetment of rape under section 109,
In the case
Tukaram v. State of Maharashtra popularly known as Mathura rape
case, apex court held that the fear which the clause ‘thirdly’ speaks of is
negative by the circumstances. The court held that the victims failure to appeal
to companions and her conduct in meekly following the constable (accused) and
allowing him to have his way to the extent of satisfying his lust amounts to
consent for the sexual intercourse.
Mathura, an eighteen year old harijan orphan girl was called to the police
station on an abduction report filed by her brother at the police station –
Desaui ganj in Maharashtra on 26th March, 1972.When they were about to leave the
police station, Mathura was kept back at the police station in the late hours of
the night by one of the constables, Ganpath, who was on duty. She was taken to a
toilet and raped by Ganpath. Then another constable Tukaram, molested and tried
to rape her but being too heavily drunk did not succeed. It was alleged that the
two constables, while on duty, had volted the doors of police station from
inside and plunged the place into the darkness.
The session judge acquitted the accused, on the grounds of tacit consent, of the
charge of rape for sexual intercourse between Ganpath and Mathura at the police
On appeal, the Bombay High Court reversed the finding of this session judge and
found Ganpath guilty of rape and Tukaram guilty for molesting the woman. The
high court rightly distinguished between ‘consent’ and ‘passive submission’, and
held that mere passive or helpless surrender of the body and its resignation to
the other’s lust has induced by threats or fear cannot be acquitted with desire
Section 376 of IPC provides punishment for the offence of rape. It says that
whoever commits rape shall be punished with simple or rigorous imprisonment for
a term which shall not be less than seven years but which maybe for life or for
a term extending up to ten years, and shall also be liable to find unless the
victim is his own wife and not under 18 years of age in which case, he shall be
punished with simple or rigorous imprisonment for a term extending up to two
years, or with fine, or with both.
In India, the situation is much worse. In 2001, the Decan Herald revealed that
for every 1 case of rape reported 68 go unreported (1:68); and that the ratio of
reported and unreported cases of sexual harassment is approximately 1 to 10,000.
The National Family Survey of India has revealed that 1 to 5 women face domestic
violence from their husbands. Global statistics are estimated between 20 to 50
2. Kidnapping and Abduction for different purposes (Sec. 363-373)
Kidnapping literally means child stealing. At common law the term kidnapping
consists of stealing and carrying away, or secreting any person whether in the
same country, or by sending him away from his own country into some other, or to
paths beyond the seas whereby he is deprived of the friendly assistance of the
law to redeem from such captivity.
In a celebrated English case of R v. Prince the house of lords as long ago as
1875, by a majority of 15 to 1, upheld the conviction of the accused for having
unlawfully taken Annie Philips, and unmarried under the age of 16, out of the
possession and against the will of her father.
Held, that it is no defence to a charge of unlawfully taking an unmarried girl
under the age of 16 years out of the possession and against the will of her
father, that the accused bona fid reasonably believe that the girl was older
than the prescribed age of 16. The court rightly observed that the intention of
the legislature in enacting such a provision was to punish those who had
connection with young girls, albeit with their consent, unless the girl was
infect old enough to give a valid consent. The man who has a connection with a
child relying on her consent, does so at his peril if she is below the statutory
Abduction in common language means the carrying of a person by fraud or force.
When no force or deceit is practiced on the person abducted, there can be no
offense of abduction.
Under section 363 punishment for kidnapping is given. It says that whoever
kidnaps any person or from lawful guardianship, shall be punished imprisonment
of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also
be liable to fine.
Section 363A defines kidnapping or maiming a minor for purpose of begging
It says whoever kidnaps any minor or, obtains the custody of the minor in order
that such minor maybe employed or used for the purpose of begging shall
punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extends
to ten years and shall also be liable to fine.
Section364 defines kidnapping or abducting, in order to murder
It says whoever kidnaps or abducts any person in order that such person maybe
murdered or maybe disposed of as to be put in danger of being murdered, shall be
punished with imprisonment of life or rigorous imprisonment for a term which may
extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.
Section 366 defines kidnapping, abducting or inducing woman to compel her
This section makes kidnapping and abduction of a woman with the intention of
forcibly marrying or having sexual intercourse with her a cognizable offense.
Mere kidnapping or abduction does not attract section 366, IPC. It comes into
operation only when the kidnapper or abductor abducts the woman with intent to
marry a person against a will or force her to illicit intercourse, etc. Even
subsequent intent or act of intercourse with the kidnapped or abducted girl will
not attract section 366, if such an intent was absent at the time when accused
enticed the girl.
The supreme court in Jinish Lal Shah v. State of Bihar case, while setting aside
the judgement and conviction of the appellant of the courts below under sections
366, 366A and 376, IPC for procurement of minor girl, forcible marriage, rape,
held that in the absence of any threat, coercion or inducement having been
established by the prosecution, the appellant could not be held guilty of
charges framed against him. The appellant, a tuition teacher was convicted by
trial court under section 366A and 376, IPC which was upheld by the high court.
The courts below had proceeded on the basis that the girl was below 18 years of
age on the date she left the house.
The appellant preferred an appeal against his conviction in the supreme court
contending that since the prosecution had failed to establish that the
prosecutrix was less than 18 years of age as of the date of incident, the charge
under section 366A, IPC of which he was found guilty by the court below should
fail; so should the finding relating to the offense of rape as the prosecution
had failed on the basis of the evidence on record to prove that there was either
force or coercion used by the appellant.
The state pleaded that even if the charge under section 336A, IPC should fail,
the appellant was still liable to be convicted under section 366, IPC for
kidnapping, abducting or inducing a woman to compel her to marriage. The apex
court held that before an accused could be held guilty under sections 366 and
376, IPC, it must be proved that either the compliant was compelled to marry the
accused against her will or force to or induced to have intercourse against her
Section 366B – Importation of girl from foreign country
Section 366B was inserted in the court in 1923 wide section 3 of the act 20 of
1923. The section deals with extra territorial offenses, penalising importation
into India from any country outside India or from the state of Jammu and Kashmir
of the girl below the age of 21 years with intent or knowledge that she would be
forced or seduced to illicit intercourse with another person or prostitution
Section 372 – Selling minor for purposes of prostitution, etc.
When a female under the age of 18 years is sold, let for hire, or otherwise
disposed of to the prostitute or any person who keeps or manages brothel, the
person so disposing of such female shall, until the contrary is proved, be
presumed to have disposed of her with the intent that she shall be used for the
purpose of prostitution. Section 372 and 373, IPC, punished the trade of selling
and buying minors for purposes of prostitution.
Section 373 – Buying minor for purposes of prostitution, etc.
Any prostitute or any person keeping or managing a brothel, who buys, hires or
otherwise obtains possession of a female under the age of 18 years shall, until
the contrary is proved, be presumed to have obtained possession of such female
with the intent that she shall be used for the purpose of prostitution.
3. Homicide for Dowry, Dowry Deaths or their attempts (Section 302/304-B IPC)
In brief there are four situations when a married woman is subjected to cruelty
and harassment leading to the commission of an offense, that are first, when her
husband or his family members subject the women to cruelty or harassment –
section 498, IPC.
Secondly, if such cruelty or harassment was inflicted by the husband or relative
for, in connection with, any demand for dowry immediately preceding death by
burns and bodily injury or in abnormal circumstances caused her death within
seven years of marriage, such husband or relative is deemed to have caused her
death and is liable to be punished under section 304, IPC for dowry death.
Thirdly, if one intentionally causes woman’s death (section 300 clause, IPC), it
would amount to murder punishable under section 302, IPC.
Fourthly, if the husband or any relative of her husband creates a situation
which he knows will derive the woman to commit suicide and she actually does so
within a period of seven years of marriage, the case would fall within the ambit
of section 306, IPC (abetment to society).
In 1986 a new offense known as “dowry death” was inserted in the Indian Penal
Code as section 304B by the Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 1986 (43 of 1986)
with effect from November 19th, 1986. The provisions under section 304B, IPC are
more stringent then provided under section 498A of the penal code. The offense
is cognizable, non-bailable or triable by court of sessions.
In 1980, in the case of V.N Pawar v. State of Maharashtra Supreme Court said
that wife-burning tragedies are becoming too frequent for the country to
complacent. Police sensitization mechanisms which will prevent the commission of
such crimes must be setup if these horrendous crimes are to be avoided.
Likewise, special provisions facilitating easier proof of such special class of
murders on establishing certain basic facts must be provided for better
To curb the practice of dowry death there is an urgent need to enforce
effectively the punitive and preventive measures with iron hands. At the same
time the law must be made more effective.
# Should death penalty be provided for dowry death under section 304B, IPC?
It is pertinent to note that Justice Markandey Katju in Nathu v. State of Uttar
Pradesh , suggested for death penalty for dowry death under section 304B, IPC.
Justice Katju observed that “dowry death is was then murder but surprisingly
there is no death penalty for it whereas death penalty can be given for murder.
In my opinion the time has come when law be amended and death sentence should be
permitted in cases of dowry death”. In view of the said observation of Justice
Katju the law commission of India in its 202nd report examined section 304B, IPC
in the light of various judicial pronouncements and critically dealt with the
substantive as well as procedural aspects of the subject in order to examine the
desirability of substituting death punishment under section 304B, IPC for dowry
In a case of Rajbir @ Raju v. State of Haryana the apex court taking a serious
note of dowry abuse resulting in rising of the dowry death cases in the country
directed to registrar journals of all the high courts to circulate to all trial
courts to ordinarily at section 302, IPC to the charge of section 304B, IPC so
that death sentences could be imposed in such heinous and barbaric crimes
Under the existing provisions, dowry death cases are registered under section
304B, IPC that provides maximum punishment of life imprisonment (minimum 7
years). Now after this order from the apex court, a person convicted of dowry
death would be charged under section 302, IPC along with section 304B, IPC and
so he can get either life imprisonment or death sentence. This is a welcome step
and will go a long way in reducing dowry death cases in the country.
4. Torture, both mental and physical (Section 498-A IPC)
Section 498A – Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to
cruelty – whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of the
woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a
term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable.
For the purpose of this section, “cruelty” means
(a) Any wilful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman
to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, lymph or health
(whether mental or physical) of a woman; or
(b) Harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her
or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or
valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to
her to meet such demand.
While in State v. Bijay, the Andhra Pradesh and the Delhi high court judgements
upheld that the word ‘cruelty’ is well defined in section 498A, IPC, the
judgement of the Calcutta high court as reported in Indian Express , in a
similar situation shows its pitfalls. In this case fifteen year old Rina was
married to Bijay after 6 months of alleged cruelty and demands for dowry of Rs.
2000 and tape recorder she committed suicide. Several relatives led evidence to
show that Rina was subjected to cruelty, but the court ruled that the
uncorroborated evidence of relatives could not be accepted. There were no
physical signs of cruelty. Mental torture by forcing her to do domestic work,
after turning out (dismissing) all the servants in the affluent home, was not
established. Besides, it is also very much doubtful if doing domestic duties in
the absence of servants maybe considered torture, let alone torture enough to
make a housewife prefer death to get away from it all, says the judgement.
The girl had told her mother and her aunt that they would not be able to see her
unless the demands of the husband were met. But the court could not relate these
demand with the suicide as there were only three weeks between the two, and it
was two short spans during which cruel treatment was allegedly meted out to Rina.
The court also found the girl sentimental and imaginative from her letters.
Therefore, the mother in law and the husband, who were charged with abetting her
to commit suicide were let off.
Those who know the social situation in which dowry deaths take place will find
it difficult to agree with the reasoning of high court. The range of mental
cruelty is a vast and intractable terrain, as the Andhra judgement observed, and
being forced to do domestic work in the early weeks of marriage after the
dismissal of servants would amount to both physical and mental cruelty. If the
girl is sentimental and imaginative such treatment is or the more bound to hurt
the teenage psych.
This judgment underlines the fact that it is not enough to pass legislation
against social events unless it is actively supported by investigating
authorities, who can make a full proof case, and a judge whose intellect reflect
the social contact in which we live, it is difficult to implement the social
5. Molestation (Section 354 IPC)
Section 354 – Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her
modesty – whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any woman intending to
outrage or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby outrage her modesty,
shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may
extend to 2 years, or with fine, or with both.
Section 354, IPC has been enacted with a view to protect a woman against an
indecent assault as well as to save that public morality and decent behaviour.
The section punishes and assault, or use of criminal force to any woman with the
intention or knowledge that the woman’s modesty will be outraged.
In the case Rupan Deol Bajaj , the Supreme Court held that slapping a woman on
her posterior amount to ‘outraging of her modesty’ within section 354 and 509,
IPC. At a dinner party on July 18th, 1988 Mr K.P.S Gill, then director general
of police, of the state of Punjab came and stood in front of Mrs Bajaj a senior
of I.A.S officer so close that his legs were about four inches from her knees.
He then asked her ‘to get up immediately’ and come along with him and on her
objection slapped her on the posterior in the full presence of all the guests.
It appears the police did not initiate any action on the first information
report of Mrs Bajaj and the high court of Punjab and Haryana allowed the
petition of Mr Gill for quashing of F.I.R on the ground that matter being too
trivial, it needs no action.
Allowing the petition of Mrs Bajaj, the supreme court held that the alleged act
of Mr Gill in slapping Mrs Bajaj on her posterior amounted to ‘outraging her
modesty’ within section 354 and 509, IPC for it was not only an affront
(disrespectful) to the normal sense of feminine decency but also an ‘upfront of
6. Sexual Harassment (Section 509 IPC)
Section 509-Words, gestures, or act intended to insult the modesty of woman -
whoever intending to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any word, makes any
sound or gestures, or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound
shall be heard or that such gesture or object shall be seen, by such woman, or
intrudes upon the privacy of such woman shall be punished with simple
imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with
# Sexual Harassment at work place
Sexual Harassment maybe defined as sexual misconduct by supervisors (i.e.,
superior officers, etc.) irrespective of the employer’s knowledge or any loss or
adverse effects for refusing a superiors unwelcome advances . As early as 1993
at the International Labour Organisation seminar held at Manila, it was
recognised that sexual harassment of women at work place was a form of gender
discrimination against women.
The apex court in
Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan , has defined, sexual harassment as a form of
sex discrimination projected;
• Through unwelcome sexual advances;
• Requests for sexual favours and other verbal or physical conduct with sexual
overtones whether directly or by implications particularly when the submission
to or rejection of such a conduct by the female employee was capable of being
used for affecting the employment of the female employee,
• Unreasonably interfering with her work performance, and
• Had the effect of creating the intimidating or hostile working environments.
In other words, sexual harassment includes such unwelcome sexually determined
behaviours (whether directly or by implication) as :
(a) Physical Contact and advances;
(b) A demand or request for sexual favours;
(c) Sexually colored remarks;
(d) Showing pornography;
(e) Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.
It was further said that sexual harassment of woman employees at a workplace,
amongst to violation of the ‘right to gender equality’ and also the ‘right to
life and liberty’ – the two most precious fundamental rights guaranteed vide
articles 14,19 and 21 of the constitution.
• The crimes identified under the Special Laws (SLL)
1. The protection of women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
The long awaited Act on domestic violence has finally been enacted by the
Parliament keeping in view the recommendations of the United Nations Committee
on Convention on Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and to
provide for more effective protection of the rights of women guaranteed under
the constitution in general and in articles 14, 15, 21, in particular. The Lok
Sabha passed the protection of women from Domestic Violence Bill on 24th August,
2005 and Rajya Sabha on 29th August, 2005. The President of India gave his
assent to the Bill on 13th September,2005 and the Protection of Women from
Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (Act 43 of 2005) became law.
This section defines the expression “domestic violence”. Any act, omission or
commission or conduct of the respondent shall amount to domestic violence in
certain circumstances. It includes causing physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal
and emotional or economic abuse which are also explained in the section. In
determining whether any act, omission, commission or conduct of the respondent
constitutes “domestic violence”, the overall facts and circumstances of the case
shall be a guiding factor.
In Savita Bhanot v. Lt Col V.D. Bhanot case, it was held that petitioner
under Domestic Violence is maintainable if acts of domestic violence have been
committed prior to coming into force of Act or despite her having in past lived
together with respondent, a shared household woman, is no more living with him
at time of coming into force of Act. The court has to look to the rights of a
woman as guaranteed under article 14 of the Constitution of India. Denial of
benefit will tantamount to violation of article 14 of the continuation. Domestic
Violence once committed in domestic relationship is continued process.
2. The Dowry (Prohibition) Act, 1961
The object of this bill is to prohibit the evil practice of giving and taking of
dowry. This question has been engaging the attention of the Government for some
time past, and one of the methods by which this problem, which is essentially a
social one, was sought to be tackled was by conferment of improved property
rights on woman by the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. It is, however, felt that a
law which makes the practice punishable and at the same time ensures that any
dowry, if given does ensure for the benefits of the wife will go a long way to
education public opinion and to eradication of this evil.
In this Act, “dowry” means any property or valuable security given or agreed to
be given either directly or indirectly-
(a) By one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriages; or
(b) By the parent of either party to a marriage or by any other person, to
either party to the marriage or to any other person.
In the case Mary v. Cherchi, the issue involved was as to whether the
share of the girl entitled to under the succession Act if given to her at the
time of marriage constitutes dowry. The honourable court held that entitlement
to share takes place only on intestacy and that may be capable of being
understood only as handling over of her share in the estate at the time of
marriage and as such is not a consideration for the marriage.
3. The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987
This Act was to provide for the more effective prevention of the commission of
sati and its glorification and for matters connected therewith or incidental
4. The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956
An Act to provide in pursuance of the International Convention signed at New
York on the 9th day of May, for the prevention of immoral traffic.
5. The Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Act, 1979
It is an Act to restrain the solemnization of child marriages.
In India, women are always at an advantage because of our recent laws which
provides them so much freedom. For instance, ladies have a separate ticket
counter at almost every place. They have seats reserved in buses. In metros,
they have a complete coach reserved for themselves in every train. All these and
other benefits are provided to them for their safety and security.
But the question arises here is are women using the laws meant for their
protection in a right way or misusing them against men. Not every women but some
are actually using their right to take revenge from men and for personal gains.
Innocent men and families have been victimised because of such misuse of women
Section 498A of Indian Penal Code was passed to protect women against marital
cruelty and dowry harassment. A lot of rights are provided to women in this
section which are explained above. This section allows the arrest of husband and
his relatives immediately the complaint is filed and solely on the basis of
allegations made by the wife, without any evidence and investigation. Offences
under this section are non-bailable and accused gets punished by imprisonment
even before the guilt is established. This is a right provided to women for
their safety and protection and for fast relief. But unfortunately, it is
increasingly being misused by women to settle scores with their in-laws and
husband. Innocent families have been victimized and imprisoned only on the basis
of allegation of wife. It has noted by several authorities that almost 98 per
cent of cases filed under section 498A are based on false accusations.
There is a huge requirement of revising Section 498A. Such laws will only give
rise to its misuse by witty and clever women for their personal gains. Very less
are the cases that real victims who are really being harassed by their husband
and in-laws for the reason of dowry and other be able to report the cases and
avail the remedy entitled to them. But there are many women who actually take
advantage of these women protection laws and files fraud cases against their
husband and families to get divorce or to harass the in-laws. Most cases have
been recorded that women accuse their husband of cruelty and dowry harassment,
to make the divorce process easier and to get a huge sum of money as alimony.
In the case of an accident or murder, law requires proof before action can be
initiated against the accused. So why the law does allows innocent families to
suffer merely on the basis of a false complaint. There’s an urgent need to look
into the misuse of these laws. Our lawyers are also responsible for this misuse
of women protection laws, as even after know the truth, they don’t counsel and
advise them to not put a false case and resolve the issue amicably, and instead
they take their case.
This law came into effect to prevent women against domestic violence, harassment
for dowry and cruelty. And it is a very important law for the protection of
women who seriously suffers all these violence in their homes. But there should
be a major revision in the practice of arresting the husband and relatives
without investigation irrespective of their ages and health. Most women misuse
the law not only to extract money from their spouses, but also due to career
constraints or adjustment problems faced by them after marriage.
At present, the accused is arrested as soon as a case is registered against him
under Section 489A and the investigations are carried out later. Old and ailing
parents and relatives of the have been jailed for such a long period without
even investigating. There is a strong recommendation that since the nature of
charges are very serious, it should be made a bailable offence and proper
security to be given to the wife. These fraud cases and false allegations are a
result of corruption in our country.
After the marriage, we all have seen men to be always balancing between their
mother and wife. These days, whenever there is a dispute between a husband and a
wife, the society always points the man to be culprit and woman to be victim.
All this is because the society has made a presumption that only a women can be
harassed and violated by a men, men are not subject to be harassed. But there
are live examples of women who harass their husbands and keep them in fear. So,
there is a strong requirement of gender laws to be changed.
Status of Male Victims In India
Prostitution And Sex Tourism of Boys In India
In various studies it was found that prostitution and sex tourism of male
children is rampant in major pilgrimage centers of India. Due to development of
tourism without proper and protective measures leads to sexual exploitation of
children, in the form of child labor, child prostitution, child trafficking,
child abuse. There is a huge rise in the demand of male children for all these
purposes. These children are exploited by domestic and foreign tourist as well.
Due to extreme poverty and less means of survival, they are forced to
Gay Rape In India
There is a lack of social acceptance to LGBT and transgender communities due to
the sexual orientation of them. Their rape cases are rarely reported due to the
provision of Section 377. it is a fact irrespective of the social acceptance
that the sexual abuse and rape cases against these people are increasing day by
By the help this study, it can be concluded that the status of both women and
men is exploited in the country. Need was felt to bring a change in definition
of sexual offences to deliver justice amoung all genders in the society. Males
are always considered as the perpetrators as the system has no provisions and
laws for men to seek legal recourse if they are harassed or raped because it is
generally presumed that they can never be raped. It is the time to admit that
males can even be raped, and not always they are on the enjoying side of it.
Equally, the women protective laws should also be advanced so that crimes
against females will be able to decrease.
The shift from gender equal approach to gender neutrality is more needed and will
be more beneficial to a civilized society.