Women in our country are advised at almost every 5th second of their life. Be it your family, your friends, or your partner, each one of them think the crime in our country is rising due to lack of knowledge. Wear a long dress, don’t be late, don’t walk alone, etc. are some of the statements that you get to hear daily.
Consequence? A rift is created between you and your loved ones.
So, what do we do? What steps do we need to take?
Firstly, we need to recognise that crimes against women are committed every minute in our country. For the better safety of women, the government needs to ensure better laws and even better execution. On the other hand, the empowered women of our country need to know the basic and important laws, so that they don’t have to feel overwhelmed or suppressed ever again. These laws will ensure you have enough power to take your stand in any situation.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
1: Special Marriage Act, 1954
Marriage and Divorce have been one of the major areas where women are suppressed either because they are not vocal enough, or they don’t have the necessary knowledge. A special form of marriage registration or divorce is provided under the Special Marriage Act, 1954. People from different faiths, casts can get married, given that they are of legal age.
2: Right to free legal aid
We often complain that no actions are taken for the harassed ones, and even their voice is subdued sometimes. However, you might not be aware that when a woman is either humiliated, ignored for a statement, she has all the right to demand free legal aid. Under Section-12 of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, you have been given the right to get free legal help and to be treated with the utmost attention.
3: Right against Harassment at Work
This might be one of the least known rights yet a crucial one for any working women in our country. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013, seeks the protection of women at their workplace. It also includes prevention for the same and looks after the complaints of sexual harassment.
4: Right to get Maternity Benefits
Having your Maternity Benefits is a right given to you by the Government of India. Under the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, any new mother is allowed to re-join her work in full flow after 12 weeks of her delivery, ensuring she doesn’t suffer any loss in her income. The Act entitles a woman to receive benefits like maternity leave, regular check-ups, medical allowances, etc. given she has worked in the organisation for a total of 80 days in the last 12 months, before her expected date of delivery.
5: Right against Domestic Violence
Be it the family of the Groom or the family of the Bride, they all advise you to keep your private matters behind closed doors, no matter how serious they get. This happens in most of the cases which results in cases of domestic violence all over the country. Every woman in our country, be it a wife, a mother, a sister, or a live-in partner has been given protection under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, against the violence of any kind at the hands of a male or the relatives.
6: Right to Equal Pay
Women in our country are not just harassed physically, but mentally too. We all talk about empowerment, but when it comes to equal wage rate and equal work opportunities, we don’t have enough institutions for the same. The provisions made under Section-4 of the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 directs an employer to pay the same wages for the same work.
7: Right to No Arrest
Under the Section-46 of Civil Procedure Code of India, 1973, no woman can be arrested after 6 PM and before 6 AM, even if an arrest warrant has been issued against the same person.
8: Right to Privacy
According to the Section-164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, any rape surviving woman has the right to give her statement in private in front of the magistrate. If she demands her privacy, no other official, or person will be allowed to hear her statement.
9: Right to Virtual Complaints
To bring more people to Justice, Delhi Police allowed women to lodge complaints online, that too without an FIR. Any woman is allowed to complain through e-mail or registered post to a Deputy Commissioner or Commissioner of Police. Proper Investigation and verification of the case are then carried out by the concerned area Police station. When found legitimate, the police then reach out to the victim for a statement.
10: Right to Anonymity
Due to the pressure build-up by the members of the family, not many women come out for justice, just to maintain the “dignity” of the family in society. However, Section- 228 (A) of the Indian Penal Code allows a sexually assaulted/harassed women to remain anonymous when her case is in the trial. She can give a private statement in front of the magistrate alone or the presence of a lady officer.
These were ten laws that all women need to know to protect themselves and their rights. However, there are many more laws that one should know to get fast-paced justice. On the other hand, we need a system that gives justice right in time. Remember, Justice Delayed is Justice Denied. Any change starts from the roots; this can be one change that you can bring into society by increasing awareness.