Law and Violence against Women

Rightly did Swami Vivekananda say, ‘Just as a bird cannot fly with one wing only, a Nation cannot march forward if the women are left behind’. Men and women are the two holes of a perfect whole.

India is a country of different religion, gender, flourishing culture, climate conditions, but its shine is diminishing due to the inefficient administration of criminal justice system. So as to restore the basic principle of justice and equality of the constitution of India, there is need to review and reform the criminal justice system for access to justice.

LAWS FOR WOMEN

Article 14 of the Constitution of India provides women equality before law

Article 15 of the Constitution obligates states not to discriminate any citizen and to make special provision in favour of women and children. Under this article the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act originated and was enforced by the government on 26 October, 2006 so as to provide protection to the wife or female live-in partner from domestic violence at the hands of the husband or his relatives. Domestic violence under the act includes actual abuse or the threat of abuse whether physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economic. Harassment for unlawful dowry demands to the woman is also covered under the provisions of this act.

Article 21 of Indian Constitution guarantees protection of children by the state. The Parliament of India passed the ‘Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Bill, 2011’ regarding sexual abuse of children on 22 May 2012 into an Act for providing a robust legal framework for the protection of children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography, while safeguarding the interest of the child at every stage of the judicial process.    A sexually abused child is considered as “child in need of care and protection” under Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.[1]

Article 39 of the Constitution obligates State to direct its policy towards securing for men and women equally the right to an adequate means of livelihood and equal pay for equal work for both men and women and to promote justice, on a basis of equal opportunity and to provide free legal aid by suitable legislation or scheme or in any other way to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities.

Although Indian law doesn’t use the term Eve teasing, victims earlier usually seek recourse through Section 294 of the Indian Penal Code. In India the crime of taking and giving dowry has been continuing from many centuries in the name of the marriage ritual. The government tried to ban this practice by enactment of Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. In-spite of this Act dowry is still a very common practice in our society.

Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994 is an Act of the Parliament of India to provide for the prohibition of sex selection, after conception, and for regulation of prenatal diagnostic techniques for the purposes of detecting genetic abnormalities or certain congenital malformations or sex-linked disorders and for the prevention of their misuse for sex determination leading to female foeticide.

In 2006, the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act formed an important first step in criminalizing marriages which take place between people younger than 18, and if such marriages do take place, parents can face up to two years of imprisonment and a Rs. 1 Lakh fine. The Act also penalizes any man over 18 who marries a minor, and anyone who fails to report and condemn child marriage.

The government of India enacted the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (prevention, prohibition and redressal) Act on 22nd April, 2013 so as to protect women from harassment at workplace. Section 3(1) of this act states that no women shall be subjected to sexual harassment at any workplace.[2]

Violence against Women

Crimes against a woman starts with the probability of getting birth and ends with her life. Violence and crime against women were kept going from the time of gore. She is caged like a bird from nativity till her demise, priory by father, family and society and post- marriage by husband by the illusionary boundaries around her. She is treated as a liability not as a human throughout life cycle from pre-birth, infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood to senescence in our modern society. Female-foeticide, satipratha, child marriage, dowry, social boycott of widows, domestic abuse, etc. are just few examples of enormities faced by women. Women are made to pay dearly for their womanhood, right from the womb to the tomb.

In Hinduism, man and woman represent the two halves of the divine body. According to the Mahabharat by cherishing the woman one virtually worships the goddess of prosperity though on the darker side, the patriarchal system has continued since the time of Rig Veda. Customs and values were made by men to favour men. Women suffer this discrimination in silence.

The constitution of India guarantees right to life and personal liberty, the equal protection of laws and prohibits discrimination on the ground of sex, but this fundamental right of the women to live life is liquidated with the termination of foetus before birth in the womb. The elimination of gender-based discrimination has been one of the fundamentals of the Constitutional edifice of India. But the Prejudice and discrimination against women begin prior to the birth, persisting to her lifetime to her grave, starting with the selective abortion of the female foetus, diagnosed by prenatal sex determination tests, which is still not banished even after the seventy years of the independence and of the constitution.

Female-foeticide has been prevalent in India even as early as 1500 BC. It is now more widespread in the country than even before. The 2011 census showed that the sex ratio has plunged to an all-time low sex-ratio in the whole country. This inequality is more pronounced in the urban than in the rural communities. The most important factor responsible for this is, paradoxically advancement in the technology of ultrasound scanning. Gross abuse of the technique in the form of the pre-natal sex determination, rose rapidly the crime of female foeticide.

Many parents not educate their daughters in the same manner with the boys. Stereotypes of gender roles have continued over the ages. The primary roles for women have been marriage and motherhood. They are only raised or grown to become someone asset or the one who acts as puppet, act as discretion and follow order of her dictator husband. Women must marry because an unmarried, separated or divorced status is a stigma.  In Indian society girls are seen as financial liability as they bring hefty dowries along with them, after they get married. And after marriage they are scolded and treated like animals for demanding dowry. In India the crime of taking and giving dowry has been continuing from many centuries in the name of the marriage ritual.

For women, the home is a place that imperils lives and breeds some of the most drastic forms of violence perpetrated against them Domestic violence is ubiquitous throughout the country, but owing to the patriarchal form of a male dominated society has been invisible in the public domain and wife- beating is professed more as a norm than as an aberration. According to some survey, 56% women accept it to be OK if their husband hit them and the reason justifying this cruelty of their husband is that they did not care for the children and the household. A 2012 UNICEF study found more than half of Indian adolescent males think it is justifiable to beat a wife under certain circumstances[3]. Even the educated, independent women, continue to be silent victims.

The world has entered into a new millennium, but from the dawn of civilization till date, the woman of the patriarchal society of India continues to be oppressed and ill-treated. She is dependent, weak, exploited and faces sexual assault and becomes victim of rape in every sphere of life. Women and girls who survive rape and other sexual violence often suffer humiliation at hospitals and in their neighbourhood. In our society Rape is still constructed as women’s shame and there are so many social barriers like fear of being stigmatized, shamed, retribution from family and friends, for women to talk about it. In several cases, the police resisted filing the FIR or pressurize the victim’s family to settle or compromise, particularly if the accused was from a powerful family or community. Parents often feared for their daughters’ safety because after filing complaints the accused made threats and also receives bail easily.

Women of contemporary India are working hand in hand with their male counter part in almost all fields of life. Even the male combat forces have opened their doors wide open for females, admitting their equal status. Likewise, as in other areas women at workplace also faces harassment and assault. Sexual harassment is not an outlying phenomenon, but a presentation of the larger gender discrimination in the society. All such incidents are not reported even the victims are reluctant to admit this because of social stigma, fear of reprisals, ridicule and ostracism. With the advancement of technology, the type of crimes and its methodology is also changing. One of the such offences is the ‘cyber stalking’ which is increasing at an alarming rate.

According to national crime research bureau 2016, 57933 cases of violence against women, 83285 rape cases and 95097 cases of domestic violence were registered in different police stations, 10453 women were assassinated for dowry.[4] In India only about 16 out of 100 people booked for criminal offences are finally convicted.[5]

Conclusion

The preamble of the Constitution of India aims at securing equality and justice, and the directive principles of state policy aims at providing free legal aid, preventing injustice and welfare of the citizens of India. Criminal justice, one of the aspects of justice, means fair and impartial delivery of justice to the victims. In contemporary India, women are the victims of crimes, like rape, harassment at workplace, dowry demands and domestic violence. The prominent legislations made by the parliament of India for securing justice against these heinous crimes such as Domestic Violence Act, Dowry Prohibition Act, POCSO Act, Sexual Harassment at workplace Act, are not able to provide fair and impartial justice to women in this patriarchal society. Indian society needs to reshape women’s role by proper law enforcement and create awareness programmes that ensures women’s rights and access to criminal justice to them.


[1] THE JUVENILE JUSTICE (CARE AND PROTECTION OF CHILDREN) ACT, 2015 NO. 2 OF 2016

[2] The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013

[3] https://edition.cnn.com/2013/01/12/world/asia/india-women-challenge/index.html

[4] https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/stop-violence-against-womens-in-india/

[5] https://www.clearias.com/criminal-justice-system-india/

Aishwarya Says:

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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The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at secondinnings.hr@gmail.com

In the year 2021, we wrote about 1000 Inspirational Women In India, in the year 2022, we would be featuring 5000 Start Up Stories.

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