1) Introduction -
At an International level, the doctrine of gender justice is widely accepted. In the constitution of India also, equality of male and female gender is accepted. The world conference on human rights was held in Vienna in 1993 to deliberate on the issue of elimination of discrimination on the ground of sex. The women's world conference was held in China in 1995. in that conference also certain resolutions were passed regarding the equal status of women. At an International level, it is accepted that women's rights are human rights.
2) Human Rights meaning and Definition -
The expression, ‘human rights’ is comparatively recent in origin. It has formerly and universally become recognized only after formation of the united nations in 1945. One of the basic principle objects of the united nations charter is, reaffirm its faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and nations large and small.
The term, “Human rights denote all those rights which are inherent in their nature and without which we cannot live as human beings. The Human rights being eternal part the nature of human beings are essential for the development of individual personality and human qualities. The intelligence, talent and consciences and to enable them to satisfy the spiritual and other higher demands.
Human beings are rational beings. Beings they are born as human beings, they possess certain basic and inalienable rights, which are commonly known as human rights. Since these rights belong to because of their very existence, they become operative with their birth. Human rights being the birthright are therefore inherent an all the individuals irrespective of their caste, creed, religion, sex, and nationality. Human rights are those minimal rights which every individual must have against the state or public authorities by virtue of his being a member of the human family, irrespective of any other declaration. When human rights are guaranteed by a written constitution they are called fundamental rights. Because a written constitution is a fundamental law of a state. Human rights are not created by any legislature. They assume the position of natural rights. These rights provide a suitable condition for the material and moral uplift of the people. Because of their immense significance to human beings: human rights are also sometimes referred as fundamental rights, basic rights, inherent rights, natural rights, and birthright. Human rights being essential for all-around developments of the personality of the individual in the society, being necessarily protected and being made available to all individuals. As a result, these rights have become established and guaranteed human rights. The purpose securing human rights as such , are to provide protection to these rights against the abuse of power committed by the organs of the state, to establish institution for the promotion of living conditions of human beings , for the development of their personality and at the same time , to provide effective remedial measures for obtaining redress in event of those rights are violated.
3) Human Rights of Women
Human rights of the women have been recognized under the various International instruments and under Municipal laws. There shall not be any discrimination on the ground of sex therefore for the promotion of the status of women in various field and to eliminate discrimination against women, Commission on the status of women and committee on the elimination of discrimination against women are established by the economic and social council on the recognition of this commission and committees has been initiated a reporting system on implementation of various covenant protecting human rights of women.
4) Position of Women under the International Law -
The Preamble to the charter of the United Nations it has been resolved relating to fundamental human rights of man and woman in the following words - but we the people of the United Nations determined to reaffirm fit in fundamental Human Rights in the dignity and worth of human person in the equal rights of man and woman and of nations large and small........
"we the people of the United Nations determined...... to reaffirm faith in fundamental Human Rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of man and woman and of nations large and small........
In article 1 of the United charter, it has been provided that the purpose of United Nations are
3.To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion; and
a) Article 8 , Article 13 and Article 55(c) of The United Nations Charter :
Article 8 of the United Nations Charter says that - The United Nations shall place no restrictions on the eligibility of men and women to participate in any capacity and under conditions of equality in its principal and subsidiary organs.
Article 13 1(b) of the Charter lays emphasis upon "promoting international co-operation in the economic, social, cultural, educational, and health fields, and assisting in the realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.
Article of the United Nations Charter says that United Nations shall promote: higher standards of living, full employment, and conditions of economic and social progress and development; solutions of international economic, social, health, and related problems; and international cultural and educational cooperation; and universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.
The first International instrument dealing exclusively with women's right was adopted by the General Assembly in 1952. It was the convention on the political rights of women in this convention it was declared that women shall be entitled to vote in all elections on equal terms with man, without any discrimination and that woman shall be eligible to hold public office and to exercise all public functions established by National Law on equal terms of with men.
In 1967, the United Nations adopted the declaration on the elimination of discrimination against women United in a single instrument principle of standard relating to the rights of women in all spheres of family life and Society.
b) International Women's Year 1975
The general assembly proclaimed 1975 as the International year of women. From 19th June to 2nd July 1975
c) World Conference of International Women's year :
In 1975, the general assembly approved the creation of international Research and training institute for advancement of women which came into force in October 1979
The Fourth world conference on women action for ability development and peace was held in Beijing in China from 4 September to 15 September 1975, According to the general assembly resolution of December 1989. This was one of the biggest conferences of the world, in which 17000 representatives were assembled; 6000 representatives were of 189 countries, more than 400 representatives ware of recognized Non-government organizations. The echo and viso of this conference was "look at the world through women's eyes" which continue for 2 weeks at Beijing.
Important International Conventions on the Development of status of Women -
(1) Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women :
Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, it was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nation on December 18, 1979. This convention is constituted in 6 parts and article 30 Articles.
(2) Convention on the nationality of married women :
This Convention was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1957. This convention came into force on 11 August 1958. This convention tried to establish equality of women with men as to question of nationality.
(3) Equal remuneration convention :
This convention was adopted by the General Conference of the International Labour Organisation on 29 June 1951 which came into force on 23 May 1953. The principle that woman and men must be given equal remuneration for equal work was in consonance with the Peace Treaty of 1919. The member states under the convention put an obligation to ensure the application to all workers for the work of equal value.
The equal remuneration recommendation incorporated even more detailed and elaborate provision as to the implementation of the principle of equal pay for equal work to all workers irrespective of their sex.
(4) Convention against discrimination in education :
It was adopted by the conference of the educational, cultural and scientific organization of the United Nations, on 14th December 1960 which came into force on 22 March 1962. This convention declares any discrimination based on sex as impermissible in all standards of education and approach thereto.
5) Human Rights of Women In India
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.
a) 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
b) 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 the election in the panchayats and municipalities. This is the first attempt of the Parliament to provide reservation of Women in the 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.
c) 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 labor that (1) Traffic in human beings and begar and other similar forms of forced labor are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offense 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.
d) 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.
e) 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
f) 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)
g) 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.
h) Commission of Sati Prevention Act
Sati Prevention Act 1987, This Act has been enacted to provide for the more effective prevention of the 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 the 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 the 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.
i) 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.
j) 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 labor laws of India
k) 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 subsection, 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.