Author: Dhruv Yadav
LL.B 3rd Year
BVDU, New Law College, Pune
Mikhail Bakhtin, a Russian philosopher, described humans as being “the witness and the judge”—which means that we both see and assess. The meaning of something can be changed depending on who is looking, in what context, and from where.
There is nothing wrong in saying that we are in midst of a great revolution in the history of women. Women’s voice is being heard everywhere, as in the Parliament, Courts and in the streets as well. There have been many instances where women have out mastered men in different fields. Men and women are given equal rights in the constitution but the lack of knowledge and illiteracy rate in the country leads to such an unfortunate situation where the women in the country are not aware of such rights, especially from the marginalized section of the society. In the USA, there are sections in a law firm for pro bono cases but that is missing in India. This should also be practiced in India as this is a good way to reach out to the millions who have no access to our constitution or to our justice delivery system.
The Constitution of India gives equal rights to both men and women and in fact grants special favours to women. These can be found in three articles of the Indian Constitution. Article 14 provides equality before the law or equal protection of the laws. Article 15 of the Constitution of India states that Government shall not discriminate against any citizen on the ground of sex. Article 15(3) provides for a special provision enabling the State to make affirmative discriminations in favour of women. In addition, the government can pass special laws in favour of women. Article 16 of the Indian Constitution guarantees that no citizen shall be discriminated against in matters of public employment on the grounds of sex. 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 Articles 15(A)(e) to renounce the practices derogatory to the dignity of women.
All these are fundamental rights. Therefore, a woman can go to the court if one is subjected to any discrimination. When we talk about the constitutional rights of women in India, we mainly pertain to those areas where discrimination is done against women and special laws formulated to fight those bigotries. The most important issues stand as those pertaining to marriage, children, abortion, crimes against women, and inheritance Rape is the worst crime against women after the murder and life imprisonment is the maximum punishment for it as given under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Crimes against women- Past:
The time between 1980-1990 can be considered as the golden period for women, as every agitation led to the creation of law for women. Demand for reforms on women’s rights or human rights was rising and acts such as, family law was enacted by the parliament. But it was not working so efficiently and it was not perfectly implemented as the lawyer handling such cases were not so familiar and experienced with such laws and they used to treat them more as a civil matter. Crimes committed against women are categorized differently, i.e., domestic violence, rape, abduction, dowry deaths, etc. These crimes can be considered as crimes against women. Before the modern laws of Hindu, child marriages were an acceptable behavior, inter-caste marriage was banned and was not acceptable by the society and polygamy was common practice. In the 19th century, the British rulers made some laws banning some of the practices, such as sati. Some such revolutionary laws were the Hindu Widows Remarriage Act 1865 and the BrahmoSamaj Marriage Act 1872, the forerunner of the Special Marriage Act. Polygamy was allowed among Hindus before the act was passed in 1955. In the starting Monogamy, Sound mind, Marriageable age, the parties should not be too closely related were the four essentials for a valid Hindu Marriage.
Crime against women- 1947 Partition:
In August 1947, when the British left India, it was divided into two independent nations: Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan. This partition led to a historical migration of population, as the Muslim population in India left for Pakistan and the Sikh and Hindu population in Pakistan left for India. Partition, like other forms of violent acts, affected women in a different way than it affected the men at that time.
Women of India:
Names like Kalpana Chawla: The Indian born, who was the first women in space, and Indira Gandhi: The iron women of India was Prime Minister of the nation, and some others like, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra, Sushmita Sen are some of the exceptions to the condition of Indian women. Case on 14th September 2020, was a very unfortunate event that highlighted the wrongs which a woman in this country faces. Sexual violence against women is pervasive in India. Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan are the two states with the maximum percentage of crime against women according to the NCRB, 14.7 and 10.2 respectively. Whereas, the national capital shares 3.3 percent of crime against women in the country according to NCRB data of 2019. Rape is the worst crime against women after the murder and life imprisonment is the maximum punishment for it as given under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
As a laboratory of social conflict, India has many axes of conflict. Gender is one of such axes. Discrimination amongst gender is a long-standing problem in India now. A women Prime Minister served the nation for full fifteen years and yet female infanticide is still quite common in some parts of India. There is an ongoing struggle in the country for gender equality and it will be fair to say that it has taken the right path and is progressing in the right direction. Women’s rights should be the main concern of the policymakers of the country to uplift the gender equality in the country. It is the “Indian spirit” which keeps this diverse country together and it is the “Indian spirit” that is required to achieve this goal.