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Legal Rights of Women in India: Every Woman must know

The world observes International Women’s Day on the 8th of March to celebrate womanhood. There is no doubt that Indian history gave the world many great women like Rani Lakshmi Bai, Savitribai Phule, Razia Sultan, and a long list of women who contributed their lives for the betterment of society. Many fought for their basic rights like education and sanitation. For them, the race to compete with the opposite gender starts from home. The traditional female archetype sees a woman to company men in the field, cook bread, and expand the hierarchy.

A question on the role of the female has always been part of debates for years but today, there may be any field where a woman is not standing headstrong with men, or not fighting. The principle of gender equality is enshrined in the Indian Constitution in its preamble, fundamental rights, fundamental duties and directive principles. Every State adopts measures to ensure the empowerment of women.

Here is a list of laws and for women in India you need to know:

  • SECTION 498-A

A woman in Indian society is treated as an ‘other’ object who is bound to leave the maternal house to spend her entire life with her husband. Domestic violence is sadly the reality of Indian households, a truism. SECTION 498-A states, that whoever is the husband or relatives of the husband of woman subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and also be liable to fine.

  • The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006

Child marriage is a blot on Indian culture and society. It was treated as a ritual in many traditions. This act was made effective in 2007. The legal age of marriage for a girl is defined as 18 years whereas for a boy it is 21 years.

  • Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961

Giving or taking gold, money, house, car was a tradition in many societies. It was a necessary practice to give away dowry at the time of a girl’s marriage. Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 prevents giving or taking of dowry at any stage. It is not only penalised but also makes demanding dowry a criminal offence

  • Zero FIR

The woman victim is given the privilege to file a Zero FIR from anywhere. It is to take immediate action by the concerned authority. Zero FIR came in limelight after the Nirbhaya Case, 2012. Zero FIRs may be registered based on a woman’s statement at any police station irrespective of jurisdiction.

  • Women have the right to equal pay

According to the provisions listed under the Equal Remuneration Act, one cannot be discriminated against based on sex when it comes to salary, pay or wages.

Working women have the right to draw an equal salary, as compared to men.

  • Women have the right against workplace harassment

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act gives a female the right to file a complaint against any kind of sexual harassment at her place of work. Under this act, she can submit a written complaint to an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) at a branch office within a period of 3 months.

  • Female sexual victims have the right to keep their identity anonymous

To ensure that her privacy is protected, a woman who has been sexually assaulted may record her statement alone before the district magistrate when the case is under trial, or in the presence of a female police officer.

  • Women have the right to get free legal aid

Under the Legal Services Authorities Act, female rape victims have the right to get free legal aid or help from the Legal Services Authority who has to arrange a lawyer for them.

  • Women have the right to register virtual complaints

The law gives women the provision for filing virtual complaints via e-mail, or writing their complaint and sending it to a police station from a registered postal address.

Further, the SHO sends a police constable to her place to record her complaint. This is in case a woman is not in a position to physically go to a police station and file a complaint.

  • Women have the right against indecent representation

Depiction of a woman’s figure (her form or any body part) in any manner that is indecent, derogatory, or is likely to deprave, corrupt or injure the public morality or morals, is a punishable offence.

  • Women have the right against being stalked

Section 354D of the IPC makes way for legal action to be taken against an offender if he/she follows a woman, tries to contact her to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest; or monitor the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication.

  • A woman cannot be arrested after sunset and before sunrise

Section 46(4) of the Crpc, 1973 specifically mentions that ‘Save in exceptional circumstances, no woman can be arrested after sunset and before sunrise, and where such exceptional circumstances exist, the woman police officer shall, by making a written report, obtain the prior permission of the Judicial Magistrate of the first class within whose local jurisdiction the offence is committed or the arrest is to be made.’

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