1) Introduction: 

           In order to rectify the unequal position of women and to give a meaning and content for their right many laws were enacted, some before the adoption of the constitution and movers thereafter. Based on their nature they can be broadly categorized as constitutional law. Labour laws, criminal laws, family law and civil laws.

2) Constitutional Provisions :  

    In the Preamble of the Indian Constitution, dignity of the individual irrespective of their sex, community or place of birth has been assured. Gender justice is the main theme involved in the constitution which contains negative as well as positive provisions going a long way in the securing gender justice.

            Article 14 of the Indian Constitution says that the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India. Simply it programs equality of all persons.
            Article 15 (1) of the Indian Constitution says that state shall not discriminate against any Citizen on the ground only of religion, Race, Caste, Sex, Place of Birth or any of them. Clause 3 of the article 15 provides that nothing in this Article shall prevent the state from making any special provision for women and children


3) Constitutional Provisions Relating to Reservation of Women in Employment and Election

        Article 16 of the Indian Constitution (Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment) Says that there shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State. Article 16 Clause (2) of the Constitution says that no citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them, be ineligible for, or discriminated against in respect of, any employment or office under the State.

 Article 16(1) and Article 16(2) prohibits discrimination in general and also discrimination because of sex in offices and those employed under the State

Article 16 (3) says that nothing in this article shall prevent Parliament from making any law prescribing, in regard to a class or classes of employment or appointment to an office under the Government of, or any local or other authority within, a State or Union territory, any requirement as to residence within that State or Union territory prior to such employment or appointment.

Article 16(4) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favor of any backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in the services under the State.

             The 73rd and 74th amendments of the constitution which were effected in 1992, provides for the reservation of seats for women in election in the panchayats and municipalities. This is the first attempt of the Parliament to provide reservation of Women in legislature in the near future. Article 243D of the Constitution, not less than one-third of the total number of seats to be filled in the direct election in every Panchayat shall be reserved for women.


4) Constitutional Rights of Women

Article 23 of the Indian Constitution provides against exploitation of women under the heading -
           
       Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labour that (1) Traffic in human beings and begar and other similar forms of forced labour are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law. (2) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from imposing compulsory service for public purposes, and in imposing such service the State shall not make any discrimination on grounds only of religion, race, caste or class or any of them.

     Directive Principles of State Policy Regarding Women -

    Article 39 of the Indian Constitution Provides for certain principles of State policy to be followed by the State, in which it is mandated that 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; (b)....(c)....(d) that there is equal pay for equal work for both men and women; (e) that the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength;(f)....

Article 42 of The Indian Constitution, the State shall make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief.   

5) Protection of Women's Human Rights under the Criminal Law of India
 
       Women have a right to protect their person or body from being violated by Men. in most circumstances unable to secure their person and honor and need to keen and immediate relief from the court in such matters.
         In the Indian Penal Code, there are certain offenses against women which have been well dealt with the provisions of the Code. Section 493 to Section 498 of the Indian Penal Code deals with the Offences relating to Marriage
See..... Offences against Marriage Offences of Cruelty against a Women by her Husband or His Relatives

6) Dowry Prohibition :

        Section 2 of The Dowry Prohibition Act 1961, defines 'dowry' - Dowry means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly.
            (a) By one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage or
            (b) By the parent of either party to a marriage or by any other person to either party to the marriage or to any other person, at or before or any time after the marriage, in connection with the marriage of the said parties, but does not include dower or mahr in the case of persons to whom the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) applies.
        The expression “valuable security” has the same meaning as in section 30 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860).

Section 3 of The Dowry Prohibition Act 1961, provides for penalty for giving or taking dowry, It says that If any person, after the commencement of this Act, gives or takes or abets the giving or taking of dowry, he shall be punishable 2 with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 3 five years, and with fine which shall not be less than fifteen thousand rupees or the amount of the value of such dowry, whichever is more.

Section 4 of The Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 provides for Penalty for demanding dowry- If any person demands, directly or indirectly, from the parents or other relatives or guardian of a bride or bridegroom, as the case may be, any dowry, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months, but which may extend to two years and with fine which may
extend to ten thousand rupees.

Section 5 makes Any agreement for the giving or taking of dowry shall be void.



Dowry Death (Section 304-B, Indian Penal Code, 1860)


6) The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act

  The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act,1956 this Act was enacted to provide in pursuance of the international convention signed at New York in 1995 for the prevention of Immoral traffic.

7) Commission of Sati Prevention Act

    Sati Prevention Act 1987, This Act has been enacted to provide for the more effective prevention of commission of Sati and its glorification and for matters is connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Under Section 3 of the Sati prevention act 1987 attempt to commit Sati is made punishable with imprisonment extending to 1 year or with fine or with both.

Under Section 4 of the Said Act, abetment of commission of Satis is punishable with death or imprisonment for life and also to find.

Section 5 of Sati Prevention Act, provides for punishment for glorification of Sati with imprisonment for not less than 1 year extending up to 7 years and with fine, not less than 500 rupees but extending up to 30000 rupees.



8) Human Rights of Women Protected under the Civil Laws of India

     The human right to marry and found a family has been protected under the personal and special marriage laws of India these are the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, Special Marriage Act 1954, the family Courts Act 1954, the Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act 1939, the Christian Marriage Act 1972.
      Provisions relating to maintenance of married women are provided in the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, in case of restitution of conjugal rights, judicial separation and divorce petition. A Hindu married women or unmarried women may take a child male or female in adoption under the Hindu adoption and maintenance act 1956. There many other provisions to protect human rights of women within the territory of India.

9) Women's Human Rights under Labour Laws of India

          Human Rights against exploitation, right for Maternity Benefit facilities in factories for women workers, equal pay for equal work with men are provided in various labour laws of India


10) Maternity Benefits

     Under the Maternity Benefit Act 1961, certain Maternity benefits are given to women

Section 4 of Maternity Benefit Act,1961 employment of or work by women prohibited during certain periods, that is -

           (1) No employer shall knowingly employ a woman in any establishment during the six weeks immediately following the day of her delivery, miscarriage or medical termination of pregnancy
           (2) No woman shall work in any establishment during the six weeks immediately following the day of her delivery miscarriage or medical termination of pregnancy
           (3) Without prejudice to the provisions of section 6, no pregnant woman shall, on a request being made by her in this behalf, be required by her employer to do during the period specified in sub-section
          (4) any work which is of an arduous nature or which involves long hours of standing, or which in any way is likely to interfere with her pregnancy or the normal development of the fetus, or is likely to cause her miscarriage or otherwise to adversely affect her health.

       (4) The period referred to in sub-section (3) shall be-
                     (a) the period of one month immediately preceding the period of six weeks, before the date of her expected delivery;
                    (b) any period during the said period of six weeks for which the pregnant woman does not avail of leave of absence under section 6.

Section 5 of Maternity Benefit Act,1961 provides for the right to payment for maternity benefit - 


            Section 5 of the said Act says that every woman shall be entitled to, and her employer shall be liable for, the payment of maternity benefit at the rate of the average daily wage for the period of her actual absence, that is to say, the period immediately preceding the day of her delivery, the actual day of her delivery and any period immediately following such day.

For the purpose of this sub-section, the average daily wage means the average of the woman's wages payable to her for the days on which she has worked during the period of three calendar months immediately preceding the date from which she absents herself on account of maternity, the minimum rate of wage fixed or revised under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 (11 of 1948) or ten rupees, whichever is the highest.

(2) No woman shall be entitled to maternity benefit unless she has actually worked in an establishment of the employer from whom she claims maternity benefit, for a period of not less than eighty days in the twelve months immediately preceding the date of her expected delivery.



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