Author- Rishika Singh
In the land of nation which is referred as “Bharat Mata”, where female deity, goddess Durga is worshipped, is ironically the biggest contributor to the violence against women i.e., 1 in every 3 women has experienced violence in one form or other: physical, sexual, mental and economic torture. Violence against women in India is more present than it may appear at first glance, as many expressions of violence are not considered crimes, or may otherwise go unreported or undocumented due to certain Indian cultural values and beliefs. These reasons all contribute to India’s Gender Inequality Index rating of 0.524 in 2017, putting it in the bottom 20% of ranked countries for that year. As we all know the society is not safe at world as large but the heart wrenches when woman is reduced to a token of entity or a piece of meat in every sphere of entity where she lives and works. Crime is perpetuated in form of “domestic violence” in her own house or in form of sexual harassment at workplaces.
Various crimes and atrocities afflicted upon women shapes in form of sexual harassment, rape, marital rape, mental harassment, outraging her modesty, stalking, acid attacks, dowry death and the list goes on. From being uncomfortable in public places and transports to experience harassment at workplaces woman can hardly breathe in place which is properly secured for her.
According to (Section 354A IPC), Sexual harassment is the:
- Unwelcome touching or other physical contact
- Asking or demanding sex or any other sexual activity
- Making remarks which are of a sexual nature
- Showing pornographic material which may include videos, magazines, books etc.
Punishment imposing a man committing such an offence, one to three years imprisonment and/or a fine.
According to (Section 375 IPC), Rape is defined as-
“sexual intercourse with a woman against her will, without her consent, by coercion, misrepresentation or fraud or at a time when she has been intoxicated or duped or is of unsound mental health and in any case if she is under 18 years of age.”
Punishment imposing a man committing such an offence will be imprisoned for not less than seven years, but it may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine. In aggravated situations, punishment will be rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 10 years, but which may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.
According to (Section 326A of IPC), Acid attack as-
“Acid” includes any substance which has acidic or corrosive character or burning nature that is capable of causing bodily injury leading to scars or disfigurement or temporary or permanent disability. The long-term consequences of these attacks may include blindness, as well as permanent scarring of face and body, along with far-reaching social, psychological, and economic difficulties”.
Section 326A and Section 326B of Indian Penal Code includes punishment which is given to an accused which read as follow:
Section 326A lays down the punishment for acid throwing. The minimum punishment is 10 years imprisonment. It can extend up to life imprisonment with fine.
Section 326 B lays down the punishment for attempted acid throwing. The minimum punishment is 5 years imprisonment. It can extend up to 7 years imprisonment with fine.
According to (Section 304B of IPC), defines Dowry Death as-
“If a woman dies within seven years of marriage by any burns or bodily injury or it was revealed that before her marriage she was exposed to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any other relative of the husband in connection to demand dowry then the death of the woman will be considered as a dowry death.”
Punishment for dowry death is a minimum sentence of imprisonment for seven years or a maximum sentence of imprisonment for life.
With existence of various guidelines, laws and acts, which brings various penalty, grievous punishments toward offenders but the nation remains as scary and hostile to consume its very self. Guidelines such as the Vishakha guidelines which are the set of procedural guidelines in use in cases of sexual harassment. They were promulgated by the Indian Supreme Court in 1997 and were superseded in 2013 by the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 regraded as one of the prominent legislation for women safety at work place this contributes to bring major revolution and women participation at major fields with focus on gender equality, which indirectly adds to nation’s growth and development.
Various labour laws which provide provisions to create safe and secure environment at workplace. Legislations prominent in Punjab & Haryana under act Punjab Shops and Commercial Establishment Act (1958) towards which most of the females are ignorant imposes to provide cab facility with authorized guards from company premises to their residences if they are working after 8 p.m. to ensure adequate protection of their dignity, honour. This also engenders to create self-awareness of various rights provided by the constitution in form of Article 14 i.e., right to equality.
Nation should not only focus on to create a safe and secure environment for women but also provide them medium, opportunity for their upliftment.
Major acts, laws and provisions also contributes to the women upliftment like
- Reservation of one-third of total number of seats of chairpersons of panchayats for women under (Article 243 D (4)). Which entails under 73rd amendment act 1992, reservation of seats in local self-government.
- The National Plan of Action for the Girl Child (1991-2000): The plan of Action is to ensure survival, protection and development of the girl child with the ultimate objective of building up a better future for the girl child.
- National Policy for the Empowerment of Women, 2001: The Department of Women & Child Development in the Ministry of Human Resource Development has prepared a “National Policy for the Empowerment of Women” in the year 2001. The goal of this policy is to bring about the advancement, development and empowerment of women.
To bring women at par with men the supreme court not only maintains its supremacy to provide equal opportunity at workplaces but also at its basic social institution i.e. in family, in form of equal share in her father’s property under The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, an amendment to the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, which mainly removed gender discriminatory provisions against women with regard to property rights to Hindu succession act 1956.
Various schemes, campaigns such as Beti Bachao Beti Padhao which focuses to provide general awareness to improve conditions of girls in India in form to provide education, to improve sex ratio, eradicate female foeticide in districts such as Bihar, Haryana where people consider girl child as burden and are overpowered by such draconian stigmas.
Women in India has been considered as a disabled class of society from their very existence. They are been looked down as household workers in form of mothers, a burden in form of daughters and a source of sexual gratification in form of wives. But with changing times and perspectives to some extent women have become aware of their existence and meticulously looked up to their rights and have transform themselves to social workers at par with men. Being the contributor to society, we as an entity should pledge to make our nation a better place for our daughters, sisters, wives and mothers and work together for the eradication of any form of violence and harassment to make the society a better place to breathe in for any gender or strata.
Author- Rishika Singh is studying at Amity Law School