Crimes against women are happening every minute in India. Women are not safe, whether at home, in public places or in the workplace. Your safety in your hands sounds like a cliché to repeat. Given the number of crimes committed against women, it is relevant that women know the laws in place to protect them. Remember that knowledge is power. As a parent, wife, daughter, employee and wife, these rights are in place to protect you and it is important that you are aware of them.
Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act: Comprehensive legislation is essential to protect Indian women from different types of domestic violence. It ensures the protection of women in a relationship and subjected to constant physical, mental, sexual, verbal and emotional violence.
Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act: helps protect women against trafficking for prostitution as an organized livelihood.
Indecent Representation of Women Act (Prohibition): It prevents the misrepresentation of women through any advertising or in publications, writings, paintings, figures or in any other way.
Dowry Prohibition Act: It prohibits women from giving or accepting a dowry before or at any time after marriage.
Maternity Benefits Act: Ensures that women who work in establishments for a specified period (before and after childbirth) are entitled to maternity and other benefits.
Women have the right to file virtual complaints: The law gives women the option of filing a virtual complaint via email or writing their complaint and sending it to a police station from a registered mailing address. In addition, the SHO sends a police officer to her home to register her complaint. This is in case a woman is not able to physically go to a police station and file a complaint.
Women have a right to Zero FIR: An FIR that can be filed at any police station irrespective of the location where the incident occurred or a specific jurisdiction it comes under, the Zero FIR can later be moved to the police Station in whose jurisdiction the case falls under. This ruling was passed by the Supreme Court to save the victim’s time and prevent an offender from getting away scot-free.
Hindu Marriage Act: This has been instrumental in introducing monogamy and allowed divorce on certain specified grounds. This law has helped in bringing Indian man and woman on the same platform in terms of marriage and divorce.
The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act: 2006 According to the International Research Centre for Women, almost 47 percent of girls are married before the age of 18. Currently, India ranks 13 in the world when it comes to child marriages. Since child marriage has been steeped into the Indian culture and tradition since centuries, it has been tough eliminating it. The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act was made effective in 2007. This act defines child marriage as a marriage where the groom or the bride are underage, that is, the bride is under 18 years of age or the boy is younger than 21 years.
Dowry Prohibition Act: 1961 According to this act, taking or giving of dowry at the time of the marriage to the bride or the bridegroom and their family is to be penalised. Dowry system, giving and taking of dowry, is a norm in India. Dowry is often asked of the bride and her family by the groom and his family. The system has taken strong roots because women after marriage move in with their spouse and in-laws. Also, over the centuries, the lack for economic independence of women and the taboo towards divorce has resulted in bride burning. When demands for dowry even after marriage are not met by the girl’s families, many women are tortured, beaten and even burnt.
Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act: This will make provisions that there is no sexual harassment against women at workplaces both in public and private sector.
Equal Remuneration Act: 1976 This Act prevents discrimination in terms of remuneration. It provides for payment of equal recompense to men and women workers.
It is necessary to know these and other laws in place to protect the interests of women. Only if you are aware of your rights can you fight against any injustice meted out to you at home, at the workplace, or in the society.