CRIMES AGAINST WOMEN IN INDIA AND THEIR PROTECTION UNDER INDIAN LAW

INTRODUCTION:

Women in India are worshiped as goddesses from ancient times. But still, women are highly exploited and abused not only in their homes but also in their workplaces. There is a lot of awareness spread about the rights of women in the twentieth century. Various protection has been provided to women through constitutional provisions and statutes. Protective discrimination has been made to protect the rights of women. However, crimes against women continue to rise.

TYPES OF CRIMES AGAINST WOMEN IN INDIA:

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE-

This is a very common type of violence against women in India. It is not only prevalent in the poor sections of our society but also educated and higher classes. Wife-beating has become a common phenomenon and the feeling of shame and helplessness prevents even a well-educated woman from taking legal action against her husband and her in-laws. The violence and abuse against women in our homes not only result in injuries on the body but also tarnishes a women’s self-respect and dignity. The patriarchal system of our society has further contributed to the long-term psychological and physical torture of women. Some of the horrible instances of domestic violence are women forced by husbands and in-laws to sleep with other men, women being tied to a pole and beaten, women forced to drink urine, women being starved, etc.

DEMAND FOR DOWRY AND BRIDE-BURNING

This is a long prevalent barbaric and inhuman act of cruelty against women done by her husband or her in-laws. This usually happens when an exorbitant demand of dowry is not fulfilled by the bride’s parents. The Prohibition Of Dowry Act, 1961 was passed to stop this social curse. However, it is still practiced among the rich as well as poor families in India.

RAPE AND GANG RAPE:

This brutal crime against women is increasing at an alarming rate in India. As rape violates a women’s dignity, prestige, social esteem, many women choose to not report or file F.I.R. against the culprit. Women who report or intend to take legal action against the rapists are threatened and at times even murdered by rapists. Further, the rape trial becomes a trauma for the women who file cases against rapists. A raped woman is not only expected to provide the details of the rape but also has to answer the in-dignified and hostile questions of the aggressive defense lawyers. In some cases, the judges acquit the accused on the ground of the bad character of the raped women. This also encourages other men to consider such a woman as their property and destroy her self respect and her dignity by attempting to further rape her.

Some other forms of crimes against women are as follows:

Acid Attack on women

Sexual intercourse by husband upon his wife during separation.

Sexual intercourse by some person in authority.

Kidnapping and abduction of women.

Procuration of minor girls.

Selling and buying minor girls for prostitution, etc. 

Murder of a woman, abetting a woman to commit suicide, etc.

Cruelty by husband or his relatives 

Sexual harassment and exploitation of women

Assault on women to disrobe her 

Voyeurism 

Stalking a woman

Word, gesture, or act intended to insult or outrage the modesty of a woman 

Honor killing

Importation of girls

PROVISIONS PROTECTING WOMEN UNDER THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA:

 Article 14 of the constitution ensures equality before the law to both men and women.

Article 15 (1) forbids discrimination against any citizen of India on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth.

 Article 15 (3) authorizes ‘protective discrimination’ in favor of women.  It provides that the State can make any special provision for women. The scope of this article is kept wide enough for the State to take extraordinary measures for the protection of women and their rights.

 Article 16 of the constitution gives equal employment opportunities to both men and women regarding matters relating to employment to any office.

Article 23 of the Constitution provides for the prevention of immoral trafficking in human beings and forced labor.  The Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girls Act, 1956 was enacted by the Parliament with the object of abolishing trafficking of women and girls.

The Directive Principles of State Policy of the Constitution under Article 39(a) states that all the citizens, both men, and women have an equal right to an adequate means of livelihood.

 Article 39(d) guarantees equal pay for equal work for both men and women without any kind of discrimination based on gender. To implement this article the Parliament has enacted the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.

 Article 42 of the Constitution commands the State to make provisions for securing just and humane conditions for work and maternity relief. The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 was enacted by the Parliament to enforce this article.

Article 243 D(3) provides that not less than one-third including the number of seats reserved for women who belong to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes of the total number of seats that are filled by direct election in every Panchayat shall be reserved for women.

Article 243 D (4) states that not less than one- third of the total number of Chairpersons offices in the Panchayats shall be reserved for women.

Article 243 T (3) provides that not less than one-third including the number of seats reserved for women of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes of the total number of seats that are filled by direct election in every Municipality to be reserved for women.

Article 243 T (4) Reservation of Chairpersons offices in Municipalities for the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and women in such a way as any State Legislature may by law provide.

CRIMES AGAINST WOMEN UNDER INDIAN PENAL CODE (IPC):

The Crimes against women  Under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC):

Rape (Sec. 376 IPC)

Kidnapping & Abduction for different purposes ( Sec. 363-373)

Homicide for Dowry, Dowry Deaths or their attempts (Sec. 302/304-B IPC)

Torture, both mental and physical (Sec. 498-A IPC)

Molestation (Sec. 354 IPC)

Sexual Harassment (Sec. 509 IPC)

Importation of girls (up to 21 years of age)

PROVISIONS PROTECTING WOMEN UNDER CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE:

Section 164 of Cr. P.Censures privacy to a raped women during the case’s trial to record her statement either before the District Magistrate without anyone else’s presence or in the presence of only one police officer and a woman constable.

Section 51 (2) of Cr. P.C  provides that a search of an accused woman shall be made only by another woman with strict regard to decency.

Section 53 (2) of Cr. P.C. provides that a medical examination of a woman shall be done only by a  female registered medical practitioner.

Section 160 of Cr. P.C provides that a police officer can not ask for the women to attend any place other than her residence. The police officer has to go to her residence to make any inquiry or investigation and that also can be done only in the presence of a woman constable and family members or friends.

Section 46(4) of Cr. P.C forbids the arrest of a woman after sunset and before sunrise. However, in extraordinary cases, such arrest can be made by a woman police officer by taking prior consent from the Judicial Magistrate of First Class.

STATUTES PROTECTING WOMEN AGAINST CRIMES:

The Indian Penal Code, 1860

The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956

The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 

The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986

The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987 

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005-

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (PREVENTION, PROHIBITION, and REDRESSAL) Act, 2013

The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006

Maternity Benefit Act, 1861

Indian Divorce Act, 1969

Equal Remuneration Act, 1976

Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971

National Commission for Women Act, 1990

NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR WOMEN:

The Central Government constituted a body known as National Commission for Women to exercise the powers conferred on and perform functions assigned to it under the National Commission for Women Act, 1990.

This Commission was made to examine all the laws made by the Constitution for the protection of women and their implementation. The Commission had to submit an annual report on the working of the constitutional and legal provisions for women with recommendations for effective implementation. The Commission had the power to review the provisions of the Constitution and other laws relating to women and recommend amendments or remedial measures to meet any shortcomings in such laws. It also had the power to take suo motu notice of matters relating to deprivation of rights of women, non-implementation of laws, guidelines for the protection of women and providing them relief, to investigate cases of discrimination against women and suggest the remedy for the same. The Commission had to undertake educational research to check the representation of women in all spheres, to evaluate the socio-economic development of women, to inspect jail, remand home and other institutions where women are kept to ensure their safety, to find litigation filed by women that affect a large number of women.

The Central Government shall present the reports and recommendations made by the Commission before the Parliament. In matters relating to the State Government, the Central Government shall forward it to the respective State Government who shall present the matter before the State Legislature. The Commission while investigating such matters shall have the power of a Civil Court trying a suit in matters like requiring production of any document before it, reviving evidence on affidavits, issuing summon to any person for attendance, and examining him on oath.

CONVENTION ON THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN (CEDAW):

The international community recognized the need for protecting the rights of women and therefore it called upon all the people in the world to eliminate discrimination against women through an International Convention known as Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The United Nations General Assembly adopted the CEDAW in 1979. It consists of a preamble and 30 articles. Often described as an international bill of rights for women, the convention defines what constitutes discrimination against women and provides an agenda to end such discrimination. The Convention aims at establishing equality between women and men by ensuring women equal opportunities in, political and public life such as the right to vote, right to stand for election equal right to education, health and employment. The countries ratifying the Convention have to take initiatives to end discrimination against women such as incorporate the principle of equality of men and women in their legal system, to establish tribunals to ensure the effective protection of women against discrimination, to eliminate all acts of discrimination against women by persons, organizations or enterprises. India signed CEDAW on 30 July 1980 and ratified it on 9 July with two declarations.

  CONCLUSION:

Although there are various protections available for women in India through various constitutional and legal provisions, the crimes against women continue to rise. The Police officers should have the power to act independently without any pressure from higher authorities. Women should be made aware of the legal rights given to them. For the all-round development of women, proper health services should be provided to them. Special attention needs to be given to women in rural areas as their condition is highly deplorable. In a country like India where women are worshiped as goddesses, they should not only have the right to enjoy a discrimination-free environment but also have a happy and dignified life without any fear.

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