International Day of the Girl Child (11th October)
As per the World Health Organisation, 1 in every 3 women has faced physical or sexual abuse in her life. India is not untouched in this regard. According to the latest National Crime Record Bureau 2020 data, in 19 metropolitan cities, a total of 35331 cases of crime against women were registered. The majority of crimes against women were registered under:
- cruelty by husband or his relatives (30.2%),
- assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty (19.7%),
- kidnapping and abduction of women (19.0%), and
- rape (7.2%).
(Source – The Hindu)
Women in India have to face discrimination at every stage of life. Even before she is born, she is subjected to a sex-selection abortion.
When she is brought up and enters the period of adolescence, she may be subjected to child marriage, forced marriage, and emotional or sexual abuse. Again, at the reproductive stage, she may be subjected to psychological and sexual abuse by intimate male partners and relatives or forced pregnancies.
During her last period of life, she may again be subjected to psychological violence by younger family members.
Because of this lifelong discrimination, the laws in India are inclined towards women’s justice. Thus this is high time that women must know their rights provided by the law. In this article, we will talk about some most important legal rights of women in India.
1. Right Against Arrest
According to section 46(4) of CrPC, no woman can be arrested after sunset and before sunrise. Under exceptional circumstances, a woman’s arrest can only be made by the women police officer after the prior permission of the Judicial Magistrate 1st Class.
2. Equal Share in the Property
The 2005 amendment of the Hindu Succession Act made a tremendous change. This amendment put an end to the years-long discrimination against the daughters. After this amendment, the daughters become coparceners by birth. It means they will get an equal share in their ancestral property as the son will get.
3. Right Not to Be Called at the Police Station for Interrogation
As per section 160 of CrPC, women of any age cannot be called to the police station. Her statements can only be recorded at the place she resides in the presence of a woman constable and her family members.
4. Right to Safe Abortion
According to section 3(4) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, a girl who has not reached the age of 18 has the right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy legally with the consent of her guardians.
Whereas, an adult woman, whether married or not, can terminate her pregnancy up to 20 weeks when the continuation of pregnancy becomes a risk to her life or harmful to her health.
5. Rights Against Being Watched
As per section 354C of IPC, a woman can file a complaint against any man who watches or captures her images in situations where she believes no one is watching her.
Section 66E of the Information and Technology Act talks of cyber voyeurism. It includes the electronic transmission of files of women engaging in private acts.
6. Right Against Being Stalked
As per section 354D of IPC, a woman has the right to file a complaint against any man who follows, contacts or attempts to contact her, whether physically or in the cyber world (Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
7. Right of Stridhan
Stridhan includes any property that a woman receives during her lifetime, including:
- all movable and immovable properties,
- gifts received before, at the time or after the marriage,
- gifts received during childbirth,
- and it also includes her personal earnings.
As per section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act, a Hindu woman is the absolute owner of Stridhan, and no one can claim any share over it.
8. Right to Get Free Legal Aid
As per section 12(c) of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, any aggrieved woman is eligible to get free legal aid despite her financial status.
9. Right to Adopt a Child
Under section 8 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, any female Hindu of sound mind above the age of majority can adopt any child in adoption even if she is unmarried.
10. Right to Get Maternity Leave
The Maternity Benefit Amendment Act of 2017 amends the Maternity Benefit Act, 1987. This new amendment provides:
- 26 weeks maternity leave for the first 2 children.
- 12 weeks maternity leave for more than 2 children.
- 12 weeks maternity leave for such women who adopt children below the age of 3 months.
11. Right Against Female Foeticide
The law seeks to prohibit the misuse of a prenatal diagnostic technique to detect the gender of an unborn child. It also prohibits such sex-determination techniques from being advertised. After the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994, the determination of the gender of an unborn child became illegal, which reduced the mortality of female fetuses in the womb.
12. Right Against Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment generally refers to any type of unwanted physical contact, sexual actions, comments, sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, etc., made by a man to a woman.
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) was enacted in 2012 to protect children from the offence of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography. The Act defines children as any person below 18 years of age. Thus every girl child in India is protected under this Act.
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