Delivering multiple roles effortlessly every single day, women are undoubtedly the backbone of any society. Doting daughters, caring mothers, competent colleagues and a wide range of many other roles are played by women around us flawlessly and with grace.
However, they’ve also been an ignored fraction of the society in many parts of the world. This, in turn, has caused women at large to bear the brunt of inequality, oppression, financial dependability and other social evils. For centuries now, women have been living under bondage that restricts them from achieving professional as well as personal heights.
The Indian judicial system, being the world’s largest, has many laws to support the women in every possible way against injustice. Unfortunately, due to lack of public awareness, the laws fail to take action.
Below are the 10 rights every Indian woman should know…
1: RIGHT TO FREE LEGAL AID
All female rape victims have the right to free legal aid, under the Legal Services Authorities Act. It is mandatory for the Station House Officer (SHO) to inform the Legal Services Authority, who arranges for the lawyer.
2: RIGHT TO PROTECT ONE’S IDENTITY
Victims of sexual assault have a right to anonymity. To ensure that her privacy is protected, a woman who has been sexually assaulted may record her statement alone before the district magistrate when the case is under trial, or in the presence of a female police officer. Neither the media nor the police can force them to reveal their identity in public Unpermitted publication of the identity can even lead to imprisonment for the publisher.
3: NO ARRESTS AT NIGHT
According to Supreme Court ruling, a woman cannot be arrested between sunset and sunrise. This was the result of a rising number of police harassment complaints by women. However, if the woman in question is wanted for a serious crime, police can make an arrest with a special permission from a magistrate.
4: WOMEN WITNESSES CAN’T BE CALLED TO POLICE STATIONS
Indian women witnesses have the right to record a statement at home. Section 160 CrPC states that women cannot be called over to police stations for interrogation. Besides, a woman can only be searched by a lady officer and can be arrested only in the presence of a lady officer.
5: RIGHT TO MATERNITY LEAVE
Maternity benefits are not merely a privilege of the working woman, they are a right. The Maternity Benefit Act ensures that the new mother does not suffer any loss of earnings following a period of twelve weeks after her delivery, allowing her to rejoin the workforce
6: RIGHT TO EQUAL WAGE
The principle, equal pay for equal work, holds good for any working women.According to the Equal Remuneration Act 1976, no organization can discriminate between men and women doing similar work or having same designation visa-vis recruitment or pay.
7: RIGHT AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
The act primarily looks to protect a wife, a female live-in partner or a woman living in a household like a mother or a sister from domestic violence at the hands of a husband, male live-in partner or relatives. She or anybody on her behalf, can file a complaint.
8: RIGHT TO PROPERTY
The Hindu Succession Act allows sons and daughters equal rights to ancestral property, thereby setting new rules and regulations. Now, daughters of a family have a valid right to claim the inheritance.
9: LIVE-IN RELATIONSHIPS ARE LEGAL
Women who are in a live-in relationship can seek protection against domestic violence under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005. Such victims can also seek financial or other relief under the provisions of the Act.
10: SAFETY AT WORKPLACE
Any workplace with more than 10 employees is duty-bound to create a Sexual Harassment Complaints Committee. According to Supreme Court’s Vishakha Guidelines, the presence of such committee is mandatory and it must be headed by a woman. The enactment of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act gives you the right to file a complaint against sexual harassment.
11: EMAIL CAN BE CONSIDERED AN FIR
If a woman is unable to visit a police station to lodge a complaint, she has the privilege of doing so by sending an email or registered letter to a senior officer. The concerned officer then instructs the station house officer to verify it with the complainant and lodge an FIR.
As we grow into an economic and political powerhouse in the international arena, the rights and opportunities that have been provided for all of us in the Constitution are also gaining prominence. Additionally, women have taken the centre stage by gradually moving into the workforce and getting career-oriented. However, mental, physical and sexual harassment, misogyny and gender inequality continue to be a way of life for most of them. It is in this context that her awareness of the legal rights, mandated by Indian law, gains significance