Protection of human rights of women
By Dr PJ Sudhakar
Human Rights are indivisible, ilieble and universal. The Human Rights includes Right to life, Right to equality, right to freedom of speech and expression, human dignity, right against discrimition, liberty, equality and right to safe environment etc. India is a sigtory to Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, Intertiol Covent on Civil and Political Rights, Intertiol Covent on Economic, Social and Cultural rights and UN Convention on Complete Elimition of Discrimition Against Women. All these UN Human Rights Conventions have provided equal human rights to women. “Human rights represent the rights of all human beings of the sex, men and women. Both men and women have equal access to these rights. No discrimition is allowed or imposed in the exercise of these rights. It is a fact of history that women have been denied equal rights for centuries. The “philosophy of human rights” became popular only during the second half of the 20th century and the issue of “gender equality” and “equal rights” for women assumed importance only after 1970?s. India which joined the UNO after its independence gave much importance to the human rights by incorporating many of these in its constitution. India which adopted a Constitution of its own in 1949 contains several Articles mandating equality and non-discrimition on the ground of sex. Indian Parliament ected protection of Human Rights Act 1993 and on the basis of this legislation tiol Human Rights Commission was established for protection of Human Rights. Women can also send complaints to NHRC when their constitutiol, legal and human rights are violated.
The State has ected various legislative measures intended to ensure equal rights, to counter social discrimition and various forms of violence, atrocities and crimes against women to provide support services especially to working women. Although women may be victims of any of the crimes such as 'Murder', 'Robbery', 'Cheating' Child Marriages, Sati and forced prostitution and human trafficking etc. The crimes, which are directed specifically against women, are characterized as 'Crime against Women'. These are broadly classified under two categories. The crimes identified under the Indian Pel Code (IPC) are Rape (Sec. 376 IPC), Kidpping and Abduction for different purposes (Sec. 363-373), Homicide for Dowry, Dowry Deaths or their attempts (Sec. 302/304-B IPC), Torture, both mental and physical (Sec. 498-A IPC), Molestation (Sec. 354 IPC), Sexual Harassment (Sec. 509 IPC), Importation of girls (up to 21 years of age). The second category crimes are identified under the Special Laws. The Supreme Court of India is a great champion of rights of women. The Apex court has given specific guidelines for protection from Sexual Harassment of working women in Vishakha vs State of Rajasthan.
Indian Parliament ected several legislations on women for protection of their rights in tune with the fundamental rights guaranteed under Part III of the Indian Constitution and United tions Human Rights Conventions. The legislations includes the Employees State Insurance Act, 1948, the Plantation Labour Act, 1951, the Family Courts Act, 1954, the Special Marriage Act, 1954 the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 with amendment in 2005, Hindu adoption and Maintence Act 1955 Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 (Amended in 1995), Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, the Medical Termition of Pregncy Act, 1971, the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1976, the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976, the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, the Crimil Law (Amendment) Act, 1983, the Factories (Amendment) Act, 1986, Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986, Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 and Protection of Women from Sexual Harassment Act.
Family courts are established to decide matters and make orders in relation to family law, such as custody of children. In common-law jurisdictions "family courts" are statutory creations primarily dealing with equitable matters devolved from a court of inherent jurisdiction, such as a superior court. The Family Courts Act 1987 was ected on 14 September 1987 to provide for setting up of the family courts with a view to promoting conciliation and to secure speedy settlement of disputes relating to marriage and family affairs. The State Government after consultation with the High Court and by notification shall establish a Family Court for every area of the state consisting of a city or town whose population exceeds ten lakhs and for other areas in the state as it may deem necessary. Family courts are subordite to the High Court, which has power to transfer the case from one family court to the other. The matters which are dealt in the Family Court in India are matrimonial relief which includes nullity of marriage, judicial separation, divorce, restitution of conjugal rights, declaration as to the validity of marriage and matrimonial status of the person, property of the spouses or any of them and declaration as to the legitimacy of any person, guardianship of a person or custody of any minor children, maintence of wife including the proceedings under the Crimil Procedure Code. The Supreme Court of India in its several landmark judgments like Shah Bano case protected the rights of women.
tiol Policy for Empowerment of Women: The tiol Policy for Empowerment of Women (NPEW) was formulated in 2001 as the blueprint for the future, with the expressive goal of bringing about the advancement, development and empowerment of women. The NPEW laid down detailed prescriptions to address discrimition against women, strengthen existing institutions which includes the legal system, provide better access to health care and other services, equal opportunities for women's participation in decision-making and mainstreaming gender concerns in the development process. The policies and programmes of the Government are directed towards achieving inclusive growth with special focus on women in line with the objective of the tiol Policy for Empowerment of Women. The Government introduced Gender Budgeting in 2005-06 in order to ensure that policy commitments are backed by fincial outlays and that the gender perspective is incorporated in all stages of a policy or a programme. The objectives of Gender Budgeting are for committing to initiatives with the objective of influencing and effecting a change in the Ministries’ policies, programmes in a way that could tackle gender imbalances, promote gender equality and development and ensure that public resources through the Ministries’ budgets are allocated and maged accordingly. The government also made all efforts to ensure a definite flow of funds to women was the introduction of a Women’s Component Plan (WCP) in the 9th Five Year Plan whereby all Ministries/Departments were directed to ensure at least 33 percent funds for women. (To be continued)