No Arrest at Night, Equal Pay: Ladies, Do You Know Your Rights?
Ladies, here’s a ready reckoner of a few basic rights you have that you must know of.
As citizens of India, many of us go on living our lives without knowing our rights well, quoting the Constitution only as a patriotic rhetoric. But it can’t be stressed enough how important it is to know our rights, especially as women negotiating the public space, in times of rampant violence and crimes against women.
So ladies, here’s a ready reckoner of a few basic rights you have, that you must know of.
1. Protection From Domestic Violence
If a woman feels threatened or abused by her husband or his family, she is free to file a complaint under the The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
In fact, anyone – not just the woman herself – can file a complaint on her behalf. Under this Act, the woman can also demand a monetary compensation.
2. Against Sexual Harassment at the Workplace
With many of our industries having a lopsided sex ratio, or having fewer women in positions of power, sexual harassment at the workplace is more than just an inconvenient reality for women. With Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, the government has put in place redressal systems to prevent this.
A woman has every right to file a complaint under this Act. Moreover, the Centre has made provisions for a woman to go on a paid leave of 90 days, while probe into a sexual harassment complaint filed by her is carried out.
3. Against Female Foeticide
The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994, was passed to prevent female foeticide and has made pre-natal sex determination illegal since. Doctors are legally bound to not reveal the sex of the foetus to the parents and parents are legally bound to not try to find out.
4. Protecting the Identity of Victims of Sexual Violence
Often women who are victims of sexual violence are afraid to approach the police for the fear of their name being disclosed and all the societal taboos that come attached.
According to law, however, a woman has the right to keep her identity undisclosed to protect herself. The government has recently also made provisions for the following:
5. A Woman Cannot Be Arrested at Night
According to Section 46 (4) of the Criminal Procedure Code, a woman cannot be arrested after sunset and before sunrise. If the case is exceptional, permission from a magistrate has to be sought.
If a woman is being arrested without a warrant, she needs to be told immediately the cause of her arrest and the rights pertaining to her bail. Police are also obligated to inform her close relatives of her arrest.
6. Equal Wages
Discrimination on the basis of gender when it comes to equal pay or work is illegal. In 1976, a law was put in place to prevent this kind of discrimination. If a woman is doing the same work as a man, her employers are obligated to pay her as much as her male counterpart.
7. Maternity Benefits
Under Amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, every woman is entitled to maternity benefits at her workplace. A pregnant woman can take up to 26 weeks of paid maternity leave.
8. Right to a Woman's Dignity
If a woman has committed a crime or is accused of committing one, all the investigations and proceedings must be carried out by another woman or in the presence of another woman, to ensure she is not harassed or violated in any manner.
9. Right to Free Legal Aid
A female rape victim is entitled to free legal aid. Police are obligated to inform Legal Services Authority of such a case, so they can arrange a lawyer for her.
Even if a woman is an accused in a case, she can ask for a government-appointed lawyer. This provision is available to women of all economic stratas.
10. Right to Property
Under the Hindu Succession Act, a woman and man have equal rights on ancestral or family property. Under the Act, there are specifications about a woman's rights to her father's property and her rights to her husband's property.
- Right to father's property
If a woman's father has not left a will, she is entitled to an equal share in the property as her brothers or her mother. This rule stands even after she gets married.
- Right to husband's property
In the event of her husband's death, the woman is entitled to her husband's property either according to his will, or even otherwise. The condition, however, is that the husband can only write a will for his own property and not his family property.
In the event of marital differences or divorce, a woman is entitled to alimony from her husband, which is decided by the court according to his economic status.
Where to Seek Help?
Other than the Crime Against Women cell, a woman can dial 100 or the 24x7 Women Helpline number – 1091. She can also approach her nearest police station.
(This article was first published on QuintHindi.)
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