ARTICLES

WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
AN OUTLOOK IN THE INTERNATIONAL AND NATIONAL LEVEL
by
Advocate. L.Victoria Gowri
Nagercoil
Cell : 9443375586
CONCEPT OF WOMEN EMPOWERMENT - EMERGENCE IN THE INTERNATIONAL LEVEL

   The first world conference on the status of women was convened in Mexico City to coincide with the 1975 International Women’s Year, observed to remind the international community that discrimination against women continued to be a persistent problem in much of the world.
   The Mexico City Conference was called for by the United Nations General Assembly to focus international attention on the need to develop future oriented goals, effectives, strategies and plans of action for the advancement of women. To this end, the General Assembly identified three key objectives that would become the basis for the work of the United Nations on behalf of women
• Full gender equality and the elimination of gender discrimination
• The integration and full participation of women in development
• An increased contribution by women in the strengthening of world peace
   The Conference responded by adopting a World Plan of Action, a document that offered guidelines for governments and the international community to follow for the next ten years in pursuit of the three key objectives set by the General Assembly. The plan of Action set minimum targets, to be met by 1980, that focused on securing equal access for women to resources such as education, employment opportunities, political participation, health services, housing, nutrition and family planning.
   This approach marked a change, which had started to take shape in the early 1970s, in the way that women were perceived. Whereas previously women had been seen as passive recipients of support and assistance, they were now viewed as full and equal partners with men, with equal rights to resources and opportunities. A similar transformation was taking place in the approach to development, with a shift from an earlier belief that development served to advance women, to a new consensus that development was not possible without the full participation of women.
   The Conference called upon governments to formulate national strategies and identify targets and priorities in their effort to promote the equal participation of women. By the end of the United Nations Decade for women, 127 Member States had responded by establishing some form of national machinery, institution dealing with the promotion of policy, research and programmes aimed at women’s advancement and participation in development. Sharp differences emerged among the women gathered at the Forum, reflecting the political and economic realities of the times. Women from the countries of the Eastern Block, for instance, were most interested in issues of peace, while women from the West emphasized equality and those from the developing world placed priority on development. Nevertheless, the Forum played an important role in bringing together women and men from different cultures and backgrounds to share information and opinions and to set in motion a process that would help unite the women’s movement, which by the end of the Decade for Women would become truly international.
   Women have a vital role to play in the promotion of peace in all spheres of life in the family, the community, the nations and the world. As such, women must participate equally with men in the decision-making processes which help to promote peace at all levels.
  

LAW AND WOMEN IN INDIA

   India is a Multi religious and Multi Cultural Nation with age old customs, beliefs and philosophies. The transformation of our culture and our society has been steered at a number of levels in all these years. If it occurred only in the minds of individuals it would be powerless. If it came only from the initiative of the state, it would be tyrannical. Personal transformation among large numbers is essential, and it must not only be a transformation of consciousness but must also involve individual action (2003 AIR SCW 3536 para 28). Thus individuals need the nurture of crops that carry a moral tradition reinforcing their own aspirations, that would evolve a strong society propagating the essence of family system, strength of motherhood, personal purity in mankind and the benevolence of brotherhood. The word “INDIVIDUAL” in this context would include MAN AND WOMAN. In the process of transformation of our culture and our society, there is a constant slow and steady shift in the development of women.
   The constitution of India naturally metamorphosised itself a basic document which provide for women empowerment in our nation within the frame work of the plenary provisions of Articles 14, 15(3), 21, 39(a), 51A(e) and preamble.
The Constitution of India–Article 14-Equality before law:-
   The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.
The constitution of India-Article 15(3)-Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race caste, sex or place of birth:-
   Nothing in this article shall prevent the state from making any special provision for women and children. The constitution of India-Article 21-Protection of life and personal liberty:-
   No person shall be deprived of his life and liberty expect according to procedure established by law.
The Constitution of India-Article 39(a)-Certain principles of policy to be followed by the state:-
   The state shall, in particular direct its policy towards securing,
   a) That the citizens, men and women equally, have the right to an adequate means of livelihood.
The Constitution of India-Article 51(e)-Fundamental duties:-
   It shall be the duty of every citizen of India
   e) to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women The Constitution of India-PREAMBLE:-
   WE, THE, PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a [SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC] and to secure to all its citizens
   JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
   EQUALITY of status and of opportunity and to promote among them all;
   FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation.
   Thus the Women empowerment chemistry hatched in India with the evolution of the constitution of India on 26.11.1949. The Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW, 1979) is the main foundation of rights in respect of women to which 166 countries including India are members till date. The convention interalia recognized that the discrimination against women in some areas, hampers economic growth and detrimentally hampers the society at large. The fruits of CEDAW evolved in India by the insertion of sections 498A and 304 B in Indian Penal Code.
   Chapter XX-A : OF CRUELTY BY HUSBAND OR RELATIVES OF HUSBAND [INSERTED BY ACT 46 of 1983] SECTION 498-A INDIAN PENAL CODE HUSBAND OR RELATIVE OF HUSBAND OF WOMAN SUBJECTING HER TO CRUELTY:-
   Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a women, subjects such women to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to five Section 304-B Dowry Death [Inserted by Act 43 of 1986] :
   (1) where the death of a woman is caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry such death shall be called “dowry death”, and such husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused her death.
   (2) Whoever commits dowry death shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life. Concurrently the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 was also amended by the criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act, 1983, by inserting sections 113A and 113B. Accordingly the burden of proof of innocence was shifted to accused in case of abetment of suicide of married women within seven years of marriage. The amending Act also inserted section 198A in Criminal procedure Code, 1972, whereas a court can take cognizance of the offence upon police report or upon complaint by party or women’s parents, brother, sister etc.
   Inspite of these legal measures to ensure the security of women by our law makers, in many occasions the law itself becomes failure though nor fully. Therefore it becomes necessary to enact the special Legislations. Such special legislations are
    Dowry Prohibition Act, 1986
   Suppression of Immoral Traffic on Women and Girl (Amendment) Act, 1986
   Legal services Authorities Act, 1987
   Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
   Protection of women from domestic Violence Rules, 2006

The Indian Policy more or less has always tried to cope with the contemporary need-based development of laws for the specified purposes. This is because the constitution is not to be constructed as a mere law, but as the machinery by which laws are made. The constitution is a living and organic thing which, of all instruments has the greatest claim to be constructed broadly and liberally. (AIR 1990 SC 781). Thus I would proudly submit that we the Indian women are safe and secure under the gentle shades of our constitution.

NOT A SWORD BUT A SHIELD

The constitution of India is a basic document that has empowered the women empowerment within the framework of the plenary provisions of Articles 14, 15(3), 21, 39(a), 51A(e) and preamble.  The courts always try to interpret the cases which are detrimental to women within the arena of social justice with these Articles.  The United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women Beijing, china, September 1995 in it’s strategic objective of the Action for equality, Development And peace insists all the  nations to “Promote an active and visible policy of mainstreaming a gender perspective in all policies and programmes related to violence against women, actively encourage, support and implement measures and programmes aimed at increasing the knowledge and understanding of the causes, consequences and mechanisms of violence against women among those responsible for implementing these policies, such as law enforcement officers, police personnel and judicial, medical and social workers and develop strategies to ensure that the revictimization of women victims does not occur because of gender – insensitive laws or judicial or enforcement practices”

            The preamble of the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), 1981 insists that “the full and complete development of a country, the welfare of the world and the cause of peace require the maximum participation of women on equal terms with men in all fields”.  It is an established fact that women represent the very kernel of the human society around which social change must take place.  We have a Constitution which guarantees justice, social, economic and political.  Article 14 confers on men and women equal rights and opportunities in the political, economic and social spheres.  Article 15 prohibits discrimination against any citizen on the grounds of religion, race caste, sex etc.  Article 15(3) makes a special provision enabling the state to make affirmative discriminations in favour of women. Similarly, Article 16 provides for equality of opportunities in matter of public appointments for all citizens.  Article 39(a) lays dowm that the state shall direct its policy towards recurring all citizens, men and women equally, the right to means of livelihood, while Article 42  directs the state to make provision for ensuring just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief.  Above all, the Constitution  imposes a fundamental duty on every citizen through Article 51A(e) to renounce the practices derogatory to the dignity of women.  Inspite of our constitution embedded with remarkable prowomen provisions of law, yet we have miles to go… to achieve the goals enshrined in the Constitution.  Neither the various women-specific and women-related legislations enacted in tune with the rules of law proupounded by the Constitution nor the various implementing agencies of these laws could protect women against discrimination, violence and atrocities completely, rather, playing a pivotal role in being a temporary deterrent as against these evils.  So the need of the day is to awakening the collective consciousness of our society.  Change of heart and attitude is what is needed.  Here it is apt to quote Justice (Dr)A.S.Anand : “The fight for justice by females or cry for gender equality is not a fight against men.  It is a fight against traditions that have chained them-a fight against attitude that are ingrained in the society, it is a fight against the proverbial Lakshman Rekha which is different for men and different for women.  Men must rise to the occasion.  They must recognize and accept the fact that women are equal partners in life.  They are individuals who have their own identity”.  The serious of all the crimes against women is Domestic violence.

            The Vienna Accord of 1994 and the Beijing Declaration and the platform for Action (1995) have acknowledged that domestic violence is undoubtedly a human rights issue.  The state should act to project women against violence of any kind, especially that occurs within the family.  The phenomenon of domestic violence is widely prevalent but has remained largely invisible in the public domain.  The civil law does not address this phenomenon in its entirety.  Until 2005, where a women is subjected to cruelty by her husband or his relatives, it is an offence under section 498A of the Indian Penal Code.  For the purpose of providing a remedy in the civil law for the protection of women from being victims of domestic violence and to prevent the occurance of domestic violence and to prevent the occurance of domestic violence in the society, the protection of Women from Domestic violence Bill was introduced in the Parliament.  This came up in the wake of the grave increase in the incidence of crime against women at home which is considered as the safest of all the places for women.

            The incidence of crime committed against women during 2005 explores a poignant reality.  In the year 2005 all over the nation, 18,384 rapes,3204 dowry harassment cases, 6787 dowry deaths, 58,319 domestic violence cases have been recorded.  Of the 18384 rapes, the number of  offenders who were parents or dose family members are 750, the offenders who were relatives being 1030 and neighbours being 5521.  Whenever the existing laws proves futile to be deterrent in it’s inhibition, enactment of new laws becomes inevitable.  It is therefore, proposed to enact a law keeping in view the rights guaranteed under articles 14, 15 and 21 of the constitution to provide for a remedy under civil law which is intended to project the women from being victims of domestic violence and to prevent the occurance of domestic violence in the society.  The protection of Women from Domestic Violence, 2005 having been passed by the Lok Sabha on 24th August, 2005 and by Rajya Sabha on 29th August 2005 received the assent of the President of India on 13th September 2005 and came on the Statute Book as The Protection Of Women From Domestic Violence Act 2005 (43 of 2005).  The Preamble of the act speaks thus, “An Act to provide for more effective protection of the rights of women guaranteed under the constitution who are victims of violence of any kind occurring within the family and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto” For the more effective protection of the rights of women who are victims of domestic violence, this act should be understood in it’s very constitution, and perspective by the implementing agencies such as law enforcement officers, police personnel and judicial, medical and social workers.  The responsibility of the fourth estate is more significant.  The act should be understood from the context of Indian women’s life and commitment to family system.  The problems of the battered women of the shattered families should be dealt with the sensitivity of amalgamating the broken attitudes within the family thereby assuring a safe and legal residence utilizing the strengths assured by sections 18 and 19 of this Act.

Section 18 of this provides that the Magistrate may, after giving the aggrieved person and respondent an opportunity of being heard and on being primafacie satisfied that domestic violence has taken place or is likely to take place, may pass a protection order in favour of the aggrieved person.  A protection order may contain an order prohibiting the respondent from committing any act of domestic violence or aiding or abetting therein, entering the place of employment of the aggrieved person or if the person or attempting to communicate in any form what solver with the aggrieved person without the leave of the Magistrate, alienating any assets, operating bank lockers or bank accounts belonging to both the parties jointly or separately by them, causing violence to the dependents, other relatives or any person giving the aggrieved person assistance from domestic violence or committing any other act as specified in the protection order.

Section 19 of this Act provides that the Magistrate may on being satisfied that domestic violence has taken place pass a residence order restraining the respondent from disposing or disturbing the possession of the aggrieved person from the shared household directing the respondent to remove him self from the shared household, restrung  the respondent or his relatives from entering the share household restraining, the respondent from alienating or disposing of or encumbering the shared household, restraining the respondent from renouncing his rights in the shared household except with the leave of the magistrate or directing the respondent to secure alternate accommodation for the aggrieved person of the same level as enjoyed by her in the shared household or to pay rent for the same.

            For the first time in the legal history of India, this act guarantees right of a women to reside in a shared household in actual terms Section 17 of this Act insists that every women in a domestic relationship shall have the right to reside in the shared household, whether or not she has any right, title or beneficial interest in the same.  The Supreme Court has held in S.R.Batra-Vs-Smt.  Taruna Batra (AIR 2007 SC 1118) that, “As regards Section 17(1) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act,2005 the wife is only entitled to claim a right to residence in a shared household would only mean the house belonging to or taken on rent by the husband or the house which belongs to the joint family of which the husband is a member”.

            Regarding the procedure for obtaining orders of relief as for as an application made under section 12 of this Act, the magistrate shall endeavour to dispose of every application within a period of sixty days from the date of its first hearing According to section 13 which promulgates the procedure on service of notice, “A notice of the date of hearing fixed under section 12 shall be directed by the Magistrate within a maximum period of two days from the date of its receipt”.  Thus protection of women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 is a very comprehensive statute with the objective of gender sensitizing each and every instrument of our implementing agencies.  Revictimization of women victims can be checked by the effective implementation of this act.

            Here it is apt to quote Justice Krishna Iyer’s Law and Life that, “The fight is not for women’s status but for human worth.  The claim is not to end inequality of women but to restore universal justice.  The bid is not for loaves and fishes for the forsaken gender but for comic harmony which never comes till woman comes”.

The society must recognize and accept the fact that women are equal partners in life who have their own identity.  The glamorized role of women in this society should be neutralized.  Change must emanate from men and women so that the collective consciousness of both men and women in life should be awakened.  The protection of women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 could reap the positive fruits of its enactment only when the relative issues are approached with more gender sensitiveness in the context of Indian family life.  In short this Act is not a sword in the hands of battered women to fight against men, but a shield in their hands to protect themselves from the grave odds of a shattering family thereby protecting and preserving the basic unit of society that is    the family from being shattered.   

WOMEN AND LEGISLATION

The United Nations, in the year 1980 has observed that “Women constitute half the world’s population and perform nearly 2/3rd of its work.  They receive 1/10th of the world’s income and less than 1/100th of the world property.  “According to 1991 census, in India, women represent 48.1% of the country’s population.  In this situation, justice for women seem like a mirage.

Status of women in different human societies of the world is different.  In almost all the present and contemporary societies, it is discriminatory and prejudicial. Nearly all human societies in different parts of the world are male dominated.  Males are active part and the females are only passive part of the different society.  In some societies, they are only chattels, contractable, saleable and endowed with the duty to serve males and elder females having no material and worthwhile rights.  In theory they are respectable, but in practice they are the subjects of all sorts of ill-treatment.  Gender inequities throughout the world are among the most all pervasive though deceptively subtle forms of inequality.  Today as we stand at the threshold of the 21st century, still we are unable to boast of a society,  where there is total gender equality or gender equity.

In his Due Process of Law-Lord Denning  said in 1981

“A woman feels as keenly, thinks as clearly, as a man.  She in her sphere does work as useful as man does in his.  She has as much right to her freedom to develop her personality to the full-as a man.  When she marries, she does not become the husband’s servant but his equal partner.  If his work is more important in the life of the community, her’s is more important in the life of the family.  Neither can do without the other.  Neither is above the other or under the other.  They are equals”.

The Constitution of India is a basic document that has empowered the women within the framework of the plenary provisions of Articles 14, 15(3), 21, 39(a), 51A(e) and preamble. In this Country “WE THE PEOPLE” gave to ourselves a Constitution, which guarantees justice, social, economic and political.  In the matter of equality Article 14 confers on men and women equal rights and opportunities in the political, economic and social spheres.  Article 15 prohibits discriminations against any citizen on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, etc.  Article 15(3) makes a special provision enabling the State to make affirmative discriminations in favor of women.  Similarly, Article 16 provides for equality of opportunities in matter of public appointments for all citizens.  Article 39(a) lays down that the State shall direct its policy towards securing all citizens, men and women, equally, the right to means of livelihood, while Article 39(c) ensures equal pay for equal work.  Article 42 directs the State to make provision for ensuring just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief.  Above all, the Constitution imposes a fundamental duty on every citizen through Article 51A(e) to renounce the practices derogatory to the dignity of women.  The question, however, is:  Have the women been able to reap the benefits provided for them under the Constitution of India?  The answer, unfortunately is not encouraging.  There is a long way to go to achieve the goals enshrined in the Constitution.

In tune with the various provisions of the Constitution, the State has enacted many women-related legislations, to protect women against social discrimination, violence and atrocities and also to prevent social evils like child marriages, dowry, rape, practice of Sati, etc. The Equal Remuneration Act of 1976 provides for equal pay to men and women for equal work.  The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 amended in 1976 provides the right for a girl to repudiate a child marriage before attaining maturity whether the marriage has been consummated or not.  The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act 1956 as amended and renamed in 1986 makes sexual exploitation of male or female, a cognizable offence.  An amendment brought in 1984 to the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 makes women’s subjection to cruelty a cognizable offence. The second amendment brought in the Act in 1986 makes the husband or in-laws punishable, if a woman commits suicide within 7 years of her marriage on the presumption that she must have been subjected to cruelty.  A new criminal offence of ‘Dowry Death’  has been  incorporated in the Indian Penal Code.  The Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1976 raises the age for marriage of a girl to 18 years from 15 years and that of a boy to 21 years and makes the offences under the Act cognizable.  The Factories Act of 1948 (amended up to 1976) provided for establishment of a crèche where 30 women are employed (including casual and contract laborers).  The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971 legalizes abortion by qualified professional on humanitarian or medical grounds.  Amendments to Criminal Law made in 1983 provide for a punishment of 7 years in ordinary cases of rape and 10 years rigorous imprisonment in cases of custodial rape.  The maximum punishment can extend to life imprisonment.  Burden of proof has also been shifted to the accused.  A new enactment of Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986 and the Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987 have also been passed to protect the dignity of women and prevent violence against them as well as their exploitation.  The alarming frequency of crime against women, led Parliament to enact Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1983(Act 43 of 1983) to make the law of rape more realistic.  By the Amendment Act, sections 375 and 376 were amended and certain more penal provisions were incorporated for punishing such custodians who molest a woman under their custody or care.  Section 114A was also added in the Evidence Act for drawing a conclusive presumption as to the absence of consent in certain prosecutions for rape, involving such custodians.

The Preamble of the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), 1981 insists that “the full and complete development of a country, the welfare of the world and the cause of peace require the maximum participation of women on equal terms with men in all fields”.  It is an established fact that women represent the very kernel of the human society around which social change must take place. 

The Vienna Accord of 1994 and the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action (1995) have acknowledged that domestic violence is undoubtedly a human rights issue.  The state should act to project women against violence of any kind, especially that occurs within the family.  The phenomenon of domestic violence is widely prevalent but has remained largely invisible in the public domain.  The civil law does not address this phenomenon in its entirety.  Until 2005, where a women is subjected to cruelty by her husband or his relatives, it is an offence under section 498A of the Indian Penal Code.  For the purpose of providing a remedy in the civil law for the protection of women from being victims of domestic violence and to prevent the occurrence of domestic violence in the society, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Bill was introduced in the Parliament.  This came up in the wake of the grave increase in the incidence of crime against women at home which is considered as the safest of all the places for women.

            The incidence of crime committed against women during 2005 explores a poignant reality.  In the year 2005 all over the nation, 18,384 rapes,3204 dowry harassment cases, 6787 dowry deaths, 58,319 domestic violence cases have been recorded.  Of the 18384 rapes, the number of  offenders who were parents or close family members are 750, the offenders who were relatives being 1030 and neighbors being 5521.  Whenever the existing laws proves futile to be deterrent in it’s inhibition, enactment of new laws becomes inevitable.  It is therefore, proposed to enact a law keeping in view the rights guaranteed under articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution to provide for a remedy under civil law which is intended to project the women from being victims of domestic violence and to prevent the occurrence of domestic violence in the society.  The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence, 2005 having been passed by the Lok Sabha on 24th August, 2005 and by Rajya Sabha on 29th August 2005, received the assent of the President of India on 13th September 2005 and came on the Statute Book as The Protection Of Women From Domestic Violence Act 2005 (43 of 2005).  The Preamble of the act speaks thus, “An Act to provide for more effective protection of the rights of women guaranteed under the constitution who are victims of violence of any kind occurring within the family and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto” For the more effective protection of the rights of women who are victims of domestic violence, this act should be understood in it’s very constitution, and perspective by the implementing agencies such as law enforcement officers, police personnel and judicial, medical and social workers.  The responsibility of the fourth estate is more significant.  The act should be understood from the context of Indian women’s life and commitment to family system.  The problems of the battered women of the shattered families should be dealt with the sensitivity of amalgamating the broken attitudes within the family thereby assuring a safe and legal residence utilizing the strengths assured by sections 17, 18 and 19 of this Act.

            For the first time in the legal history of India, this act guarantees right of a woman to reside in a shared household in actual terms Section 17 of this Act insists that every women in a domestic relationship shall have the right to reside in the shared household, whether or not she has any right, title or beneficial interest in the same.  The Supreme Court has held in S.R.Batra-Vs-Smt.  Taruna Batra (AIR 2007 SC 1118) that, “As regards Section 17(1) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act,2005 the wife is only entitled to claim a right to residence in a shared household would only mean the house belonging to or taken on rent by the husband or the house which belongs to the joint family of which the husband is a member”.

Thus protection of women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 is a very comprehensive statute with the objective of gender sensitizing each and every instrument of our implementing agencies.  Revictimization of women victims can be checked by the effective implementation of this act.

Here it is apt to quote Justice Krishna Iyer’s Law and Life that, “The fight is not for women’s status but for human worth.  The claim is not to end inequality of women but to restore universal justice.  The bid is not for loaves and fishes for the forsaken gender but for comic harmony which never comes till woman comes”.

Inspite of our constitution embedded with remarkable pro women provisions of law, yet we have miles to go… to achieve the goals enshrined in the Constitution.  Neither the various women-specific and women-related legislations enacted in tune with the rules of law propounded by the Constitution nor the various implementing agencies of these laws could protect women against discrimination, violence and atrocities completely, rather, playing a pivotal role in being a temporary deterrent as against these evils.  So the need of the day is to awaken the collective consciousness of our society.  Change of heart and attitude is what is needed.  Here it is apt to quote Justice (Dr)A.S.Anand : “The fight for justice by females or cry for gender equality is not a fight against men.  It is a fight against traditions that have chained them-a fight against attitude that are ingrained in the society, it is a fight against the proverbial Lakshman Rekha which is different for men and different for women.  Men must rise to the occasion.  They must recognize and accept the fact that women are equal partners in life.  They are individuals who have their own identity”. 

The glamorized role of women in this society should be neutralized.  Change must emanate from men and women so that the collective consciousness of both men and women in life should be awakened. 

In short the various legislations in respect of women are not sword in the hands of battered women to fight against men, but  shields in their hands to protect themselves from the grave odds of this society.

YEARWISE LEGISLATIONS IN RESPECT OF WOMEN

1860    Indian Penal Code

1872    Indian Evidence Act

1925    Maternity Benefit Act, 1925

1929    Child Marriage Restraint Act

1948    Universal Declaration of Human Rights

1948    Factory Act, 1948

1948    Employee’s State Insurance Act, 1948

1950    Constitution of India

1952    Mines Act, 1952

1955    Hindu Marriage Act

1956    Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act

1956    Law Commission Report on Suppression of Immoral Traffic on Women and Girls

1966    International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

1968    Employment of Children Act, 1968

1971    Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act

1973    Code of Criminal Procedure

1975    First World Conference on Women, Mexico

1976    Equal Remaneration Act, 1976

1979    Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

1983    Criminal Laws (Second Amendment) Act

1984    Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

1986    Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Act

1986    Suppression of Immoral Traffic on Women and Girls (Amendment) Act

1986    The Indecent Representation of women (Prohibitions) Act 1986

1986    Child Labour Act, 1986

1987    Legal Services Authorities Act

1987    The Commission of Sati (Prevention )Act, 1987

1988    Child Labour Rules, 1988

1993    United Nations World Conference on Human Rights

1994    The Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation & prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994

1994    The Pre-Natal Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1994

1995    United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing

2004    Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women warns of  Threats to gains on Women’s Human Rights.

2005    Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act

2006    Protection of Women from Domestic Rules.

WHO PAYS FOR GENDER VIOLENCE?

 

Advocate L.Victoria Gowri

Room No1, Saroja Towers, Parvathipuram, Nagercoil – 629 003.

E-mail : ramgowri123@rediff.com

Cell : 9443375586

Lord Denning in his Due Process of Law exclaimed (Page 194-195), “A women feels as keenly, thinks as clearly, as a man.  She in her sphere does work as useful as man does in his.  She has as much right to her freedom to develop her personality to the full as a man.  When she marries, she does not become the husband’s servant but his equal partner.  If his work is more important in life of the community, her’s is more important in the life of the family.  Neither can do without the other.  Neither is above the other or under the other.  They are equal”.

In the large majority of homes, the women plays a pivotal role without whose participation the whole structure of the family tends to collapse.  House work is the most productive, the most responsible and the most arduous work a woman can do.  It is exceptionally a life engineering task which contributes much to the fundamental structuring of this society.  The duty of motherhood, which the vast majority of women will always undertake, requires qualities of high self esteem and relent less patience she has to be active and she has to be passive.  The art of bringing up our generation is her special prerogative.  Without woman’s dedication the race must become extinct.

Today women have emerged to play multi-faceted roles awing much to contribute to the family economically too.  Thus modern living puts a lot of psychological pressures on women.  The result is anxiety and depression from constant pressures like isolation and fragmentation of families into small compartments, urbanisation, industrialisation, pollution, constant vigilance and control over children who are now increasingly exposed to the negativities of the media and the various scientific developments.  All this makes the burden of house management all the more tedious and heavy, without relief, relaxation or break.  The sum and substance of all this is that, women are working tirelessly all the time for the sake of their generation, for the sake of their race, for the sake of this society, for the sake of this nation, at large for the sake of this universe.

Despite her active participation in the growth and welfare of the community and country concerned, ironically she continues to be an unequal partner, intolerably unequal.  She is still a battered wife, a bonded labourer, gang rape victim, a damsel for sale in weekly markets in the backward provinces or to foreigners as bride for a price and a prone subject of domestic violence sexual harassment at work.  Pernicious social evils emanate from shattered homes where women are kept in surveillance and abeyance.  Gender injustice and gender violence sows the seeds of perversion and depression in the society.  Gender discrimination is the greatest moral challenge which humanity faces today.  Eradicate gender discrimination before it is too late, for women is the symbol of life in every family, the honour of every community, the future of every nation.  She is hope, kindness, laughter, joy becomes irrelevant.  If stabilize womanhood to strengthen the foundations of our society.  The claim is not to end gender injustice but  to restore universal justice.  For it is none who pay for gender violence, but it is our society at large which would be victimized, traumatired and shattered.  The bid for cosmic harmony will remain a dream till gender violence is uprooted.     

PROTECT WOMEN FOR COSMIC HARMONY
Advocate L.Victoria Gowri

   Whenever crime is committed against women & that too a violent crime, it sends shock waves to the society but those shock waves burst like bubbles in a very short time – laments Justice A.S.Anand. But for the first time in our country common men, women & children rocked the capital city New Delhi for days together in lakhs from the last week of December 2012 seeking justice. This belligerent fight for justice is not a fight against men. It is not a movement of the so called feminists. But it is the outburst of the collective consciousness of the elite middle class and uppermiddle class of New Delhi. The loud outcry is to impose the fundamental duty on every citizen as promulgated by Article 51A(e) of our Constitution to absolutely renounce the practices derogatory to the dignity of women. It is a clarion call with solidarity to achieve the goals enshrined in our Constitution. To ensure women with “equality before law” and “Prohibit any discrimination” as guaranteed by Articles 14 & 15 of our constitution.
   The slow, steady & consistent invasion of our values & morals in this country by the continuous rule of pseudo-secularists in the name of secularism, in the name of globalization, in the name of global marketing, has made the constitutional promise of equality, a farce. Bharat had been a land where women were honoured, mothers were worshipped, girl children were treasured. But today after 65 years of Independence, Indian woman is still a bonded labourer, gang rape victim, dowry victim and a saleable commodity in national & international markets. Despite special Constitutional guarantees and other legislations, crime against women are at alarming rise. Even after the December 23rd, 2012 shameful episode of sexual offence, incidents of rape of women and children are, being reported repeatedly across the country from New Delhi to Tutucorin at Tamilnadu. Exploitation and victimization of women has reached new dimensions to that extent that it is not merely the right of a woman to live is affected, but it is her right to live with dignity as guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution is at stake. Especially the offence of rape which occurs in chapter XVI of the Indian Penal Code is not just an offence affecting the human today, but it is often destructive of the whole personality of the victim. Rape is an experience which shakes the foundations of the lives of the victims. For many it’s effect is a long term one, impairing their capacity for personal relationships altering their behavior and values and generating endless fear. In addition to the trauma of the rape itself, victims have had to suffer further agony during legal proceedings too.
   In the present scenario of widespread rapes across the country, the recommendations of Justice Verma Committee are likely to assume great significance. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India had already pointed out exclusively the anomalies in the existing system & remedies to be adopted in Delhi Domestic Working Women’s Forum –Vs- Union of India even before 2 decades on 19th October 1994 that, ……… “Firstly, complaints are handled roughly and are not given such attention as is warranted. The victims, more often than not, are humiliated by the police. The victims have invariably found rape trials a raumatic experience. The experience of giving evidence in court has been negative and destructive. The victims often say, they considered the ordeal to be even worse than the rape itself. Undoubtedly, the court proceedings added to and prolonged the psychological stress they had to suffer as a result of the rape itself”“In this back ground, we think it necessary to indicate the broad parameters in assisting the victims of rape.
(1) The complaints of sexual assault cases should be provided with legal representation. It is important to have someone who is well acquainted with the criminal justice system. The role of the victim’s advocate would not only be to explain to the victim the nature of proceedings, to prepare her for the case and to assist her in the police station and in court but to provide her with guidance as to how she might obtain help of a different nature from other agencies, for example, mind counseling or medical assistance. It is important to secure continuity of assistance by ensuring that the same person who looked after the complainant’s interests in the police station represent her till the end of the case.
(2) Legal assistance will have to be provided at the police station since the victim of sexual assault might very well be in a distressed state upon arrival at the police station, the guidance and support of a lawyer at this stage and while she was being questioned would be of great assistance to her.
(3) The police should be under a duty to inform the victim of her right to representation before any questions were asked of her and that the police report should state that the victim was so informed.
(4) A list of advocates willing to act in these cases should be kept at the police station for victims who did not have a particulars lawyer in mind or whose own lawyer in mind or whose own lawyer was unavailable.
(5) The advocates shall be appointed by the court, upon application by the police at the earliest convenient moment, but in order to ensure that victims were questioned without undue delay, advocates would be authorized to act at the police station before leave of the court was sought or obtained. (6) In all rape trials anonymity of the victim must be maintained, as far as necessary.
(7) It is necessary, having regard to the Directive Principles contained under Article 38(1) of the Constitution of India to set up Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. Rape victims frequently incur substantial financial loss. Some for example, are too traumatized to continue in employment.
(8) Compensation for victims shall be awarded by the court on conviction of the offender and by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board whether or not a conviction has taken place. The Board will take in to account pain, suffering and shock as well as loss of earnings due to pregnancy and the expenses of child birth if this occurred as a result of the rape”….
   The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the aforesaid judgement directed the Union of India to evolve such scheme to wipe out the tears of such unfortunate victims within six months from the date of the said judgement and to take necessary steps for implementation of the scheme at the earliest. But even after 19 years no such scheme is formulated by our democracy to ensure the safety & security of our daughters and mothers. But the alarming frequency of crime against women led Parliament to enact Criminal Law (amendment) Act, 1983 (Act 43 of 1983) to make the law of rape more realistic. By the Amendment Act, Sections 375 and 376 were amended and certain more penal provisions were incorporated for punishing such custodians who motest a women under their custody or care. Section 14-A was also added in the Evidence Act for drawing a conclusive presumption as to the absence of consent in certain prosecutions for rape, involving such custodians. Section 327 of the Code of Criminal Procedure which deals with the right of an accused to an open trial was also amended by addition of sub-sections 2 and 3 providing & facilitating in-camera proceedings. But these won’t suffice. More stringent punishments should be incorporated in Sections 375 & 376 facilitating death penalty for the offender in case of victims death and life imprisonment in other cases. Protection of society & deterring the criminal is the avowed object of law and that is required to be achieved by imposing an appropriate sentence”.

   Whatever be the amendments in the existing laws, whatever be the new legislations to ameliorate the situation, the absence of an efficient & effective enforcing system would prove all measures a damb squib. Also certain pertinent social threats should also be seriously handled with caution. Almost the offenders of all the rape cases reported across India are found to have drunk at the time of offence. Today India is quickly evolving an alcoholic generation. The unfettered expansion of visual media & internet which silently crawls into the drawing room and bed room of every Indian home embracing the entire population lasciviously, augments the secretion of androgen and estrogen harmones by it’s midnight and mid day sex shows causing the proliferation of sex crimes against women. So a general shift in the policy of the Union and State governments to enforce total prohibition alike the Govt. of the State of Gujarat across our country should be announced immediately & stringent censor measures has to be adopted to regulate visual media including television, internet, cinema etc.
Here it is apt to quote Justice Krishna Iyer, “The fight is not for woman’s status but for human worth. The claim is not to end inequality of women but to restore universal justice. The bid is not for loaves and fishes for the forsaken gender, but for cosmic harmony which never comes till women comes. Their emancipation, however, is not their responsibility alone. We all must achieve that goal. If half the population remains deprived, ignorant, down trodden and discriminated against, the country cannot usher in an era of prosperity”.
   Total Number of words -1573
(The Author of the article is one of the National Secretaries of BJP Mahila Morcha. She is a practicing Advocate in the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court)

VVictory Legal Associates Since 1997 (Madurai Bench of Madras High Court)

ESTABLISHED BY:Smt.L.Victoria Gowri M.Sc., B.L.Madurai Bench of Madras High Court, Madurai & All the Courts in the District of Kanyakumari.