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Human Rights Day 2019 – Legal Rights of Every Woman in India

Today is International Human Rights Day 2019 and the last day of the 16 days of activism campaign, which The CSR Journal has been commemorating with a special series of articles. It is a day for us to step up for human rights, and for women’s rights in particular.
The 16 Days of Activism Campaign is one of the longest-running campaigns in the world. Since its inception, the Campaign has linked local and global activism to amplify feminist voices and secure accountability for women’s human rights by transcending borders and bridging movements.
For gender-based violence to stop, women need to know their Constitutional and legal rights. Knowledge is power. As philanthropist Melinda Gates puts it: “A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman.”
On Human Rights Day 2019, as a parent, daughter, employee and a woman, these are rights set in place to protect you and it is important that you are aware about them.

Right to equal pay

According to provisions under the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976, one cannot be discriminated on the basis of sex when it comes to salary or wages. Working women have the right to draw an equal salary.

Right Against Harassment At Work

The enactment of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013, gives you the right to file a complaint against sexual harassment. The law enables a sexually harassed woman employee can put in a written complaint to an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) at a branch office within a period of 3 months as per the Sexual Harassment Act.
This complaint further is taken up by the Local Complaints Committee (LCC) at a district level, ensuring investigations start regarding the same if proper action has not been taken against the employer. The complaint can also be filed by any of the woman’s legal heirs on her behalf or any other person who has written permission given by her to make the complaint.

Protection from Domestic Violence

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2015, 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.
Section 498 states that whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects her to cruelty, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine. The complaint registered against an offender makes it a non-bailable one, ensuring a woman’s safety and provide protection from domestic abuse. The acts of violence are not limited to physical brutality, but also other forms of abuse like verbal, economic, emotional and sexual.

Right to anonymity for sexual assault victims

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.

Right to free legal aid

All-female rape victims have the right to free legal aid, under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. It is mandatory for the Station House Officer (SHO) to inform the Legal Services Authority, who arranges for the lawyer.

Right to register complaint virtually

If a woman is not in a position to physically go to a police station and file a complaint, there is a provision for virtual complaints where she can lodge a complaint via e-mail or write her complaint and send to a police station from a registered postal address. This provision leads to the SHO (Station House Officer) sending police to the complainant’s place to record her.

Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act (1986)

The depiction in any manner of the figure of a woman; her form or body or any part in such way as to have the effect of being indecent, or derogatory to, or denigrating women, or is likely to deprave, corrupt or injure the public morality or morals, is a punishable offense.

Right against being stalked

Section 354D of the IPC and legal action can be taken against an offender. It has been considered as a legal offense. Stalking has been defined by the law as, “To follow a woman and contact, or attempt to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman; or monitor the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication.”

The provision of zero FIR

The ruling by the Supreme Court mentioned that a woman who is a victim can register her complaint at any police station under the Zero FIR ruling. The Zero FIR is an FIR that can be filed at any police station irrespective of the location where the incident occurred or a specific jurisdiction it comes under. So once that FIR is lodged and investigation and filling are done with a magistrate, it can be moved to the Police Station in whose jurisdiction the case falls under. This ruling was passed to save time that would impact a victim and also lead to an offender getting away scot-free.
This article coinciding with Human Rights Day 2019 is part of our series on the international 16 Days of Activism campaign with the theme “Orange the World”.