Even in the hour of the COVI19 pandemic, every day new cases arise either related to sexual harassment or related to rape, abuse, kidnapping, etc.
Not to forget in today’s scenarios, women are excelling in all fields. But women are not considered safe in our houses, workplace and even at night time. In our society not only housewives but also many of the independent working women don’t know much about their rights. Laws against child marriage and dowry have gained much awareness but other than these laws, there are many laws that a woman should be aware of.
Keeping in mind the safety of women, our country having the world’s largest judicial system, has provided crucial rights to Indian women.These rights have been specially made to strengthen their position in society.
Some of the laws provided for the protection and care of women are as follows:
1. Zero FIR can be registered in any police station–
An FIR is the first-hand information that you give to the police whenever an incident occurs. Sometimes, it might happen that an offence occurred with a person at a place and after that, the person wants to lodge a complaint, in that case, this Zero FIR can prove to be fruitful.
The person can go to the nearest police station and get the information registered in the form of an FIR. Usually, FIR needs to be registered under the jurisdiction of the Police Station where that offence is committed, but in case of offences against women it can be registered outside the territorial jurisdiction of the Police Station as “Zero FIR”. So, this right can be exercised by women in case they are having the anticipation of the re-occurrence of that event.
2. Laws for women to protect them from sexual harassment at the workplace–
Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013 provides various protection and rights to women at the workplace. This right is available to women to prevent sexual harassment at offices. In case, a woman is working in an organisation with more than 10 employees, there is an internal complaint committee in the office which she can approach against sexual harassment or any such incident that occurred with her at the workplace. Also on the local level, certain committees are having the primary motive of protecting women at the workplace from sexual harassment and also increasing their participation at the workplace. So by exercising this right the woman can be safe as well as protected.
3. Women have the right to go abortion in India–
This reproductive right is available to women in India. This right relating to abortion can be exercised by women if they feel the need to. Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 2020, provides that if the woman is pregnant upto 12 weeks then the consultation of 1 doctor is required and in case of pregnancy above 12 weeks and upto 20 weeks, then the opinion of two docores is required for the abortion. So this right is available if you are not sure or the pregnancy is unplanned.
4. Paid maternity leave is available for all women in case of biological birth and adoption–
In India ,a woman has a right to get maternity leave for about 26 weeks. This right is available under the Maternity Benefit Act. In case of adoption, if you’re adopting a child then also this right can be exercised as you become equally a mother even compared to having a natural child. So in the case of adopting a child, you are entitled to a maternity leave of 12 weeks from your work.
- Take your children to the workplace, creche offices-
If the organisation in which you are working is having more than 50 women employees, then they must have a creche established at offices, provides the Maternity Benefit Act. So that women can bring their children to the workplace if required and also visit them four times a day. So the life of women becomes easier if they have both work and their children at the same place.
- Right to say no to domestic violence and abuse-
This law relating to domestic violence is not only applicable in case you are married or in a marital relationship but also available to the people in a live-in relationship. Domestic violence includes physical abuse, economic violence and sexual violence, verbal abuse and emotional abuse. Parliament has enacted Domestic Violence Act 2005 to govern this field.
- Women can’t be arrested at the time before sunrise and after sunset–
A woman can only be arrested taking the help of a woman police officer. No other police officer has the right to touch your body or force you to submit to custody unless you are trying to evade the arrest. Section 46(4) of CrPC provides that a woman can’t be arrested before sunrise and after sunset but in case of hardened criminals, a woman police officer can get an order from the judicial magistrate for the arrest of a woman.
- Stalking, cyber bullying, voyeurism against women–
The woman has the right to get the offender punished in case of stalking( (Section 354D IPC), cyberbullying or when a woman is the victim of a crime where the person tries to outrage her modesty (Section 354 IPC). The woman has the right to take legal action and approach the Court of Law.
- Right of women victims to remain anonymous, protection of women’s identity–
The Indian Law protects the woman’s anonymity from being revealed if you are a victim of sexual harassment, rape, etc. Nobody has the right to disclose the woman’s identity without her consent. Section 228 A of IPC bars the disclosure of the identity of the victim of certain offences.
- Right to get free legal aid and advice-
In India, women have the right to get free legal aid under the Legal Services Authority Act. If a woman is in trouble and needs legal help, she has the right to approach the legal service authority.
Rajat Rajan Singh
Editor-in-Chief at Law Trend
Advocate at Allahabad High Court Lucknow