WOMEN SAFETY IN INDIA- A PERSPECTIVE
- IWB Post
- January 29, 2014
Today, India is living in the 21st century, with technology and world advancing at enormous speed but WE, the women of India are still talking about “Are Women Safe” with a new “Nirbhaya” silently shouting in her withering pain for Justice every few minutes in some corner of our country.
It happens because there are numerous times when we look at a situation; we view only a part of it because our approach is already “Biased”. It’s always better to take the view of a situation in its totality. Safety of girls and women in India is an extremely serious issue and to tackle this problem, a holistic outlook and a multidimensional approach is required.
Presently we see that Media like Films, Advertisements and Television serials portray women in their most sexy Avatars often towards vulgarity. Women are being used for “Glamorizing” the film, the advertisement or the show. High class glossy books with semi-nude female cover pages decorate every book stall; let it be a shop, railway station or any other place. It settles the female with the concept of ‘Sex-Masala’ in Male minds. It must be brought to checks.
Females must understand that first and foremost an individual is primarily responsible for one’s own safety. The role of state agencies comes after the role of the individual. In Villages females going out in fields in order to relieve themselves put them to great risk. In cities, girls going out alone at odd times in the night, going to faraway or deserted places for the sake of fun, taking public transports with no female co-passengers, acceptance for consensual sex, putting on all revealing dresses etc. should be carefully reconsidered in a society where a large number of men are still living in an age when women were considered mere prized objects not humans with souls. Here, I am not speaking against women, but all I want to project is women must take care of themselves. No one is stopping you to live your life, but since we have seen the bad side, it’s good to be precocious. Women should always carry self-defence instruments like Compact Pepper sprays, Compact Stinger, shock gun cum torch etc. while on move. Most important they must always be ready to fight back.
Women must also be aware of their Rights for protection of their dignity in domestic, social, professional environment as well as against un-cooperative officials. Our Judiciary has been very active in making stronger laws to provide more protection to the females and stringent punishment to anyone who crosses their line and endangers the safety and dignity of women in India.
A landmark legislation that gives married and unmarried women far-reaching legal protection against abuse or “threats of abuse” from their spouses, partners or other males in the family is the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. Importantly, this law criminalizes the abuse of a woman by her spouse, partner or other males in the household, recognizes the abused woman’s right to secure housing. Domestic violence under the Act includes actual abuse or the threat of abuse, whether physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economic. Besides physical violence it also covers sexual violence like forced intercourse, forcing a wife or partner to look at pornographic material, and child sexual abuse. Harassment by way of unlawful dowry demands of the woman or her relatives also comes under this definition. So are preventing one’s wife from taking up a job or forcing her to leave her job. Primarily meant to provide protection to women against violent husbands, partners and relatives, the law also extends its protection to mothers, sisters and widows. Even those women who are sisters, widows, mothers, single women or living with the abuser are entitled to get legal protection.
It covers all women who are or have been in a relationship with the abuser, where both parties have lived together in a shared household and are related by consanguinity, marriage or a relationship in the nature of marriage, or adoption. The law also addresses sexual abuse of children and forcing young girls to marry against their will. Here are some important laws of the Indian Penal code of India for women safety –
Section 509 IPC– For word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman. Punishmentis simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or fine, or both.
Section 354 IPC – For assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty Punishment is imprisonment which may extend to two years, or fine, or both.
Section 498A IPC –For Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty Punishment is imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, also liable to fine.
Section 304B IPC – Dowry death, Punishment is imprisonment for a term not less than seven years but may extend to life imprisonment.
Section 154 CrPC – A police officer is bound to register an FIR when a cognizable offence is made out or he (police officer) has an option, discretion or latitude of conducting some kind of preliminary inquiry before registering the FIR.
Section 160 CrPC – Under this section of Criminal procedure court, in case of an investigation, no male under 15 or a woman can be investigated at any place other than their residence.
Section 46(1: 4) CrPC–Except in exceptional circumstances; no woman shall be arrested after sunset and before sunrise.
Section 100(3) CrPC–Under this act if a woman is suspected of concealing any article for which search should be made, the search shall be made by another woman with strict regard to decency.
The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986 – It is prohibition of publication or sending by post of books, pamphlets, etc. containing indecent representation of women.It has a Punishment on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years.
The Bill on Sexual harassment of women at workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal)– It includes any unwelcome act or behaviour directly or by implication of physical contact and advances, or a demand or request for sexual favours, or making sexually coloured remarks or showing pornography or any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature. The Act makes it mandatory for all offices with 10 or more employees to have an internal complaints committee to address grievances in a stipulated time or face penalty. Sexual harassment cases at workplace, including against domestic help, will have to be disposed of by in-house complaint committees within 90 days failing which a penalty will be imposed and repeated non-compliance of the provisions of the law can even lead to cancellation of licence or registration of the organisation. Sexual harassment at workplace may lead to termination of service of the accused, withholding of promotions and increments, and payment of reasonable compensation to the complainant. According to the rules, if allegations against the accused turn out to be false and after inquiry, are found to be made with a malicious intent, the complainant may face similar penal provisions as listed for the accused. An employer can be fined 50,000/- in case of violation of his duties under the Act.
Education, Knowledge of Rights, Correct representation of women in media, Respect and equality in social interaction of the two genders, liberal and accepting attitudes and severe punishment to the guilty will go a long way in ensuring safety of girls in our country.
Changes do not take place soon or easily, but if each one of us join hands in every possible way that we can and start to make little changes within the family from today, it would gradually get implemented and there would be a better society that respects and understands women, at least for our next generation and generations to come. Women could walk around freely, without the fear of being attacked at anytime, anywhere. The coming generations will make a remarkable difference.
The basic understanding that men and women are equal has to start from home. Respecting the opposite sex has to be taught from elementary school levels and parents and teachers have to join hands in this subject. Women are not sex objects, but they are equally powerful and great companion for men and this should be made to understand. With proper understanding, exploitation can be brought to checks. Once this understanding gets through the scenario will change.
By: Mrs.Ruby Khan
Human Rights Activist and Educator