As we go forward economically and politically to make a mark in the international arena on the 70th Constitution Day of India, the rights given to Indian citizens, especially women, by our Constitution have gained prominence like never before. The Constitution of India is the supreme law of the country. The sacramental document ensures Equality, Freedom, Fraternity and Justice for every Indian citizen.
However, despite these rights granted to us, a lot of women, have been facing mental, physical and sexual harassment, and gender inequality at both home and workplace. And it is in this context that her awareness of rights, mandated by law, comes into the picture.
Here are the 10 rights that every Indian woman must know:
Right to Equality
As per Article 15(1), the state shall not discriminate against any citizen of India on the ground of sex. Also, according to the provisions of Equal Remuneration Act, there should be no discrimination on the basis of sex when it comes to salary or wages.
Right against harassment at the workplace
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal). Act (2013) provides protection to women from sexual harassment at all workplaces both in public and private sector, whether organised or unorganised. As per this act, any organisation that has over 10 employees must have a sexual harassment committee. Not just that, this act also clearly specifies that criticizing, insulting, blaming, reprimanding or condemning a female employee in front of other employees also amounts to sexual harassment!
Right to anonymity
The Code of Criminal Procedure (1973) gives a right to anonymity to the victims of sexual assault. A woman who has been sexually assaulted has the right to record her statement alone before the district magistrate when the case is under trial, or in the presence of a female police officer. A woman also has rights to give her statements from the home rather than visiting the police station.
Right against domestic violence
The Domestic Violence Act primarily gives protection to a wife, a female live-in partner and a woman living in a joint household. It also covers women who have been/are in a relationship with the abuser and are subjected to violence of any kind—physical, sexual, mental, verbal or emotional.
Right against Dowry
The Dowry Prohibition Act (1961) prohibits the giving or taking of dowry at or before or any time after the marriage from women. Also, the Indian Penal Code (1860) contains provisions to protect Indian women from dowry death, rape, kidnapping, cruelty and other offences.
Right to maternity-related benefits
The Maternity Benefit Act (1961) regulates the employment of women in certain establishments for certain period before and after childbirth and provides maternity benefit and certain other benefits. These benefits are not just a privilege for the working woman but are her rights. The act ensures that the new mother does not lose her job during the maternity period of twelve weeks after her delivery and also allows her to rejoin the workforce.
Right against female foeticide
The Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act (PCPNDT) prohibits sex selection before or after conception and prevents the misuse of pre-natal diagnostic techniques for sex determination which may lead to female foeticide. It is a right given to Indian women so that she can experience the most basic of all rights — the right to life.
Right to terminate pregnancy
While the PCPNDT Act gives a woman the right to life, The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (1971) allows her to terminate certain pregnancies after consulting registered medical practitioners on humanitarian and medical grounds.
Right to free legal aid
The Legal Services Authorities Act (1987) grants free legal services to Indian women. Any female who has been a victim of sexual assault has the right to free legal aid. The act makes it mandatory for the Station House Officer (SHO) to ask the Legal Services Authority to arranges a state lawyer for the victim.
Right of Muslim women
With the Triple Talaq row making the headlines, the Indian Muslim women must know that our Constitution has a law that protects their rights from getting exploited. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act (1986) safeguards the rights of Muslim women who have been divorced by or have obtained a divorce from their husbands.