The Constitution of India is the preeminent rule that everyone must follow. It is a hallowed record that mirrors the plain thought of India. The heavenly vessel offers Justice, Liberty, Equality, Freedom and Fraternity upon India as unalienable qualities, which give our nation importance past simple presence. The Constitution of India forbids separation dependent on gender yet it similarly guides and enables the administration to attempt uncommon measures for females. Despite the fact that the situation of women has enhanced over the most recent four decades, yet at the same time they are attempting to keep up their poise and opportunity. And Indian women are confronting the hardest time rationally and physically, mostly because of ignorance and absence of learning of lawful and established privileges of a lady. The Constitution gives numerous assurance rights to women, for example, Discrimination against any citizen on the grounds of sex, equal pay for equal work for men and women, one-third seat reservation for women in every Panchayat, protection against domestic violence, dowry prohibition laws, etc.
Article 51 A(e) states that it is the obligation of each native in India to revoke any defamatory practices to the dignity and pride of women. Section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 makes progress toward expelling gender-based segregation and effectuating financial strengthening of Hindu females. The Right to Elimination of Gender-based Discrimination (REGD), as a privilege in order to achieve monetary strengthening frames some portion of Widespread Human Rights. Article 2(f) of CEDAW States are obliged to take every fitting measure; including enactment, to cancel or alter sex-based segregation in the current laws, control, traditions and practices that establish victimization of women. Article 15(3) of the Constitution of India decidedly ensures such acts or activities. The Constitution of India is a fundamental report which accommodates women strengthening inside the structure of the entire arrangement of Articles 14, 15(3), 21, 39(a), 51A(e) and Introduction. The women are secured inside the zone of social equity with these Articles. The Administration of India took inception to anchor square with privileges of women, by presenting the confirmation of the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination to Women (CEDAW) in 1993.
Violence Against Women :
The condition of women all over the world: Article 1 of The United Nations Declaration of Violence Against Women 1993, defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.”
Another concept is the term violence against women has been used to describe a wide range of acts, including murder, rape, and sexual assault, physical assault, emotional abuse, battering, stalking, prostitution, genital mutilation, sexual harassment, and pornography. There is little consensus in the still-evolving field on exactly how to define violence against women. The major contention concerns whether to strictly define the word ”violence” or to think of the phrase “violence against women” more broadly as aggressive behaviours that adversely and disproportionately affect women.
Violence against women encompasses many forms of violence, including violence by an intimate partner (intimate partner violence) and rape/sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence perpetrated by someone other than a partner (non-partner sexual violence), as well as female genital mutilation, honour killings and the trafficking of women. Women’s rights movements have been instrumental in ensuring that the international community keeps discussing violence against women as a human rights concern on the global, regional and national agendas.
From earlier times, the condition of women has always been a concern. The feminist theories were propounded which were the radical, socialist, and liberal theories. All the theories have different principles but have a common objective of curbing violence against women. It is a global issue and not confined to a particular state or region. The crimes are increasing and therefore various organisations, programs, declarations, conventions are held and framed to remove this menace.
The earlier condition of women in India The Vedic period was the golden era for women in India. They lived a glorious life on account of freedom and equality. They were empowered and thus participated in every aspect of life.
The condition however deteriorated from the Post Vedic era and Medieval era. The purdah system, child marriage, infanticides, dowry system, and the emergence of male dominant society became prevalent. In the post-Vedic period, it was attempted to set up a male-dominated society by increasing the authority of men and in the medieval era, as various invasions took place, the threat to the security of women increased. Hence, from these eras, onwards women faced drastic hardships and restrictions.
The British regime brought education and western impact on the socio-cultural life of the Indian masses. Various social reform movements and nationalist movement tried to change the picture of women in our country. Women also started educating themselves and participated in the reformatory movements. The Post Constitutional era enshrined the principles of equality, liberty, and social justice, despite all the progress the predicament of women continued.
The present condition of women in India:
India reported 4,05,861 cases of crimes against women in 2019 and Uttar Pradesh topped the list with 59,853 such incidents, according to the annual National Crime Record Bureau’s Crime in India 2019. Former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Justice G. Rohini has said that physical and sexual violence, which manifests the systematic violation of the right of women to live a life of human dignity, can be stated as the major challenge to women development and empowerment.
Therefore, to deal with the atrocities of women various government programs are continuously organised. The legal system plays a vital role in this context and various enactments are especially framed for women.
Factors Responsible For Increasing Violence Against Women In India :
As rightly said by Swami Vivekananda Women will work out their destinies – much better too than men can ever do for them. All the mischief to women has come because men undertook to shape the destiny of women. Here are the factors responsible for increasing violence against women:
- Patriarchal Mindset and Gender Stereotype:
When a child is born, from the initial days they are nurtured differently, according to their gender. A male child is given toys like superheroes, cars, guns and the girl child is given dolls, kitchen sets, etc. This is called gender stereotyping. While growing up also at various stages of life they face distinctions, especially in the field of education and employment, e.g., the administrative posts for women are not much considered by some of the Indian families.
The patriarchal mindset of the people attempts to imbibe in the child’s mind the concept of superiority of one gender over the other. Male domination has been an age-old practice. One of the biggest reasons behind the inferiority in a woman is the biological superiority of men over women who have made her a feelingless person. A woman was reduced to be just an appendage to man.Thus both are the main reasons for the crime against women.
- Lack of Education:
This is one of the notable causes of violence in our country. Our nation is still struggling in the field of education. In rural areas, females are not sent to schools even to attain basic education. And due to the deprivation of education, they do not understand what is right and wrong. Married women do not know their rights and thus considers the abysmal behaviour of their husbands as their fate.
Young men in India mature and develop in a male-dominated environment, with little or no sex education. And in rural areas, with very little contact with female peers after puberty. Together, this leads to misdirected masculinity, characterised by male sexual dominance and unequal gender attitudes and behaviour. Hence, education and pieces of training are essential for both the genders to remove this peril from society.
- Dowry System:
Dowry has become a problem in India because of social disorder. The dowry system and the consequent dowry problem grew out of a complex social situation; the dowry system is bolstered by tradition, mythology, and religion and is treated cursorily by the legislature, police, and courts. With dowry deaths on the rise, no conscientious woman can afford to remain silent. The burden of dowry contributes to the view that the birth of a daughter is a calamity, at least economically. Girls are discriminated against their natal homes, for example, in health care, amount of food given them, and so on.
In many cases, if the demand for dowry is not fulfilled, the woman falls prey to violence. The demand rises if the girl is educated or is of darker complexion. Despite the enactment of The Dowry Prohibition Act 1961, this practice continues. India leads in the number of dowry death cases.
- Traditional and Cultural Practices:
The customs like sati and devadasi system are still prevalent in many parts of our country. The term devadasi is a Sanskrit term denoting female servant of deity or handmaiden of God. The tradition has suffered socially, culturally, and economically to such an extent that contemporary devadasi practice is only associated with social evils. The devadasi is neither a reprehensible figure nor an exotic being.
She has been shaped by a socio-cultural context, dominated by patriarchy, caste/ class hierarchy as well as religious superstition. Sati system after being abolished is a continuing practice in certain communities, some religious texts also write in favour of sati system like A Sati who dies on the funeral pyre of her husband enjoys an eternal bliss in heaven
The woman has no existence in society without the context of men thus the sati ritual was considered logical to them. Many families were afraid that after the death of her husband the woman may go astray thus sati was the solution for them. Indian women, either physically forced by society or physiologically coerced by the religion, embrace the cult of sati. It also negates the cult of sati as a purely religious activity that reflects women’s loyalty and devotion to their husbands and religion. Both these practices continue in contemporary India which is highly condemning. The women’s position downgrades because of such customs and thus making them vulnerable.
- Insensitivity of law enforcement machinery:
If domestic violence occurred and the woman takes courage and files a complaint to the police officer, they generally suggest them to solve this matter on her own as it is not a big issue and also very common. Now if such mentality exists in the minds of the law enforcement bodies, then how can we expect that the populace will understand the seriousness of the occurrence of such an act. Most of the time women never file a complaint because of the fear of disgrace of them and their family in the society. Law is the protector of every individual but it is still inefficient in curbing the problems of women.
- Financial Dependence:
In India, a husband’s ability to provide economically for the family is intimately linked to notions of masculinity as well as personal and family honour. This is the most common cause of crime in our society. If somebody is supporting someone financially, subconsciously they build the feeling of superiority and they think they can do whatever they desire. They can suppress her, have right over her body, and abuse the woman.
It also happens that if the husband in a household is unemployed and the wife is financially supporting the family she is subjected to domestic violence as he starts comparing his capabilities with that of the wife and somewhere it hurts his sentiments additionally, social disapproval, a sense of inadequacy and frustration and related stressors associated with living in poverty may increase the likelihood of men perpetrating domestic violence.
Legal Remedies In India:
The Constitution of India: Article 14 is on equality.
Difference in treatment between men and women by the state is totally prohibited on grounds of religion race, caste, sex or place of birth. Article 21 is on right to live; right to live with human dignity.
The National Commission for Women: It was set up as a statutory body in January 1992 under the National Commission for Women Act, 1990 to review the constitutional and legal safeguards for women; recommend remedial legislative measures, facilitate redress of grievances and advise the Government on all policy matters affecting women.
The Supreme Court guidelines on sexual harassment at work place: For the first time, the Court drew upon an international human rights law instrument, the CEDAW to pass a set of guidelines. The Court defined sexual harassment at work place as any unwelcome gesture, behavior, words or advances that are sexual in nature. “It shall be the duty of the employer or other responsible persons in work places or other institutions to prevent or deter the commission of acts of sexual harassment and to provide the procedures for the resolution, settlement or prosecution of acts, of sexual harassment by taking all steps required.”
The legislation relating to violence against women comprises the Indian Penal Code (IPC), civil law and special laws.
Dowry and dowry death: The Dowry Prohibition Act (DPA), 1961 applies to all people, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Parsis and Jews. Giving, taking or abetting the giving or taking of dowry is an offence, which is punishable. Several states (Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and Punjab) amended the DPA to give it more teeth. The law was found to fail to stall the evil.
Where the death of a woman is caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances, within 7 years of marriage, and if shown that soon before her death, she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband for or in connection with any demand of dowry, such death shall be called “dowry death” and such husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused her death (IPC 304-B). 113-B Indian Evidence Act, 1872, was inserted for the presumption as to dowry death.
Abetment of suicide of child or insane person: If any person under 18 years of age, any insane person, any delirious person, any idiot, or any person in a state of intoxication, commits suicide, whoever abets the commission of such suicide, shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years and shall also be liable for fine (305 IPC).However, the difficulty is that if it is shown the victim has major mental illness, the benefit of doubt is given to the accused and he is acquitted.
Abetment of suicide: If any person commits suicide, whoever abets the commission of such suicide shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years and shall also be liable for fine (306 IPC). 113-A of Indian Evidence Act, 1872, relates to the presumption as to abetment of suicide. The offences of dowry and abetment of suicide are cognizable, nonbailable and noncompoundable.
Sexual offences: A man is said to have committed rape if he has sexual intercourse with a woman against her will and consent; or with her consent when the man knows that he is not her husband or when she thinks that he is her lawful husband; or with her consent when she is of unsound mind or is intoxicated by herself or the man. However, sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years, is not rape (375 IPC). The latter provision seems deficient as it does not include marital rape.
Voluntarily having carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman, or animal is an offence for which the person shall be imprisoned for life and shall also be liable for fine. This provision is hardly used (377 IPC).
Of cruelty by husband and relatives of husband: The willful conduct of the husband or his relative that is likely to drive the women to commit suicide or cause physical or mental trauma to her or harassment of a woman with a view to coercing her or any of her relative to meet any unlawful demand for property would be punishable by imprisonment for 3 years and fine (498A IPC). This is the most widely used provision against domestic violence.
Other offences in mentioned in IPC are: Causing miscarriage (312 IPC), causing miscarriage without woman’s consent (313 IPC), death caused by an act done with intent to cause miscarriage; if act was done without woman’s consent (314 IPC), act done with intent to prevent child being born alive or to cause it to die after birth (315 IPC) and causing death of quick unborn child by act not amounting to culpable homicide (316 IPC).
The Family Courts Act, 1984: The Act was established with a view to promote conciliation in, and secure speedy settlement of disputes relating to marriage and family affairs.
The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986.: This Act prohibits the indecent representation of women through advertisements or in publications, writings, paintings, figures or in any other manner is prohibited.
The Commission of Sati (prevention) Act, 1987: This Act is for the prevention and glorification of sati.
Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005: The Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA), 2005 was enacted to provide for more effective protection of the rights of women guaranteed under the constitution who are victims of violence of any kind occurring within the family and for matters connected thereto. It recognizes 4 types of domestic violence: Physical, verbal, and emotional (including not having a child or a male child, marrying without consent), and economic (including violence related to stridhan, dowry, property) and sexual (includes sexual abuse and marital rape).
The aggrieved person (AP) is a woman who has been in a domestic relationship with the respondent. The respondent is any adult male person who is, or has been in a domestic relationship with the AP and against whom the AP has sought relief. The AP or any person can complain directly (verbal), telephonically or via E-mail. There is provision for various orders (protection, residence, maintenance (monetary relief), custody orders and emergency help. There is also provision for assistance (counselor, police, and assistance for initiating criminal proceedings, shelter home, medical facilities, and legal aid).
The PWDVA is good in many ways. It is friendly to even to poor and illiterate women; it educates the woman regarding the rights and available assistance; provides many reliefs (which facilitate psychosocial rehabilitation), free legal advice and help to initiate legal proceedings against respondent; it attempts to restore the family; and last, but not the least, it empowers the woman. The main criticism against PWDVA is that mental illness in AP or respondent is ignored. Apart from this, there are mixed reactions toward few legislations, especially PWDVA, DPA and IPC 498A, because they have been frequently abused and are considered as “anti-men.”
Justice K. Ramaswamy stated:
Indian women have suffered and are suffering discrimination in silence. Self-sacrifice and self denial are their nobility and fortitude and yet they have been subjected to all inequities, indignities, inequality, and discrimination.
This topic of violence against women has always been in discussion, but unfortunately, the situation is still not in control. Recently, during the phase of lockdown due to the spread of the coronavirus there was a hike in the cases of domestic violence. A study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, brings confirmation that the coronavirus lockdowns are making Indian women more vulnerable to violence at home- a fear that activists and academics have voiced from the start.
Mapping the complaints of domestic violence received by the National Commission for Women (NCW) in April-May against designated red, green, and orange zones, the study found that complaints of domestic violence rose 131 percent in red zones, where there were stricter curbs on mobility, relative to green zones. The story does not end here, the Hathras rape case which is a slap to humanity also took place, there are several cases like this, some are known through media but many are unknown, every second of an hour a woman is subjected to violence.
What an irony it is, that we call our nation Bharat Mata and this is what is happening in our motherland. It’s highly disappointing that during this tough time, instead of focusing on the solution and keeping ourselves safe, people are busy exploiting women.
What could be the possible solutions for violence? In my opinion, certain measures could be taken like spreading awareness programs regarding gender equality, renouncing the practice of old customs that downgrades women and gradually sensitising them of these heinous acts, the young minds must also be educated so that they can step out and raise their voice against the wrong done, girls and women should be given self-defence training in schools and colleges, we have a comprehensive legislature exclusively for women, it must be enforced properly.
India is progressing in every dimension, but this development is of no use if our country is not able to cope with the acts of violence.
The circumstances can change only if every individual pledge that we will fight this pandemic of violence anyhow because we must remember that it is not only the duty of the government or the judiciary to resolve such crimes, but it’s our duty also to remove this filth of violence from our wonderful nation.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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