Pride and Dignity: Women at workplace

In the era of globalization, modernization, and rationalization, one thing which is most applauded about is women empowerment. International leaders, celebrities, politicians, youth, and even the laymen talk about the blurring gap between men and women and uplifting women, not only socially but politically as well as economically.  But the irony is, it is all loose talk in the air, because when the time comes to execute it practically, women are always portrayed as weaklings, needing male support at all times.

The esteemed workplace where she can prove herself itself becomes the place where her wings get clipped. The question which arises is, what stops her in her workplace to work efficiently? What stops her to work freely without fear? The answer is, unfortunately, SEXUAL HARASSMENT AT WORKPLACE. Statistics show seven out of ten women are sexually harassed at the workplace. Around ninety percent women are not aware how to deal with the situation or what can be done to stop it or is there any way out? Fortunately, the answer to all these questions is, YES! And the credit for such steps goes to the judiciary as well as the government of India. Now, what is needed is generating awareness among women as well as people regarding prevention of sexual harassment at workplace.

The Supreme court in Vishaka & others versus State of Rajasthan and others laid down guidelines directing that these guidelines would be strictly observed in all workplaces for enforcement of gender equality of women at the workplace.

The facts of the case were, there was a writ petition filed by some social activists with the aim of bringing the attention towards growing incidents of sexual harassment at workplace. It was aimed at preventing sexual harassment at workplace by laying down certain guidelines.

But the immediate cause for filing such petition was the gangrape of a social worker in a village in Rajasthan. It was contended that sexual harassment leads to violation of fundamental rights under Art. 14 (equality before law), Art. 15 (Prohibition of discrimination), and Art 21 (right to life and personal liberty) of a woman. But by laying down necessary directions court had endeavoured to ensure “A safe working environment to women”. The court even directed central as well as state governments to consider the appropriate legislation for the same.

The second step was the Sexual harassment of women at workplace (prevention, prohibition and redressal) act 2013 [SHW ACT]. The act defines sexual harassment as ANY Unwelcome sexually determined behaviour, and demands, from male employees at the workplace, which includes:

    • any physical contacts and advances
    • sexually coloured remarks
    • showing pornography
    • passing lewd comments or gestures
    • sexual demands.

It mandates all the employers to constitute an INTERNAL COMPLAINTS COMMITTEE [ICC] at each office or branch with ten or more employees and requires fifty percent should be women.  It requires time-bound redressal of complaints which should be confidential. It requires employers to conduct education and sensitization programs and provide a safe working environment.

The other initiative was Justice Verma committee; it recommended Employment Tribunal comprising two retired judges, two sociologists and a social activist to obviate the need of ICC which was not functioning as it was intended.

The latest and the most technically efficient initiative the government has launched is the SHE BOX (sexual harassment electronic box). Recently government launched an online platform, which will enable women employees to file complaints related to sexual harassment at workplace.

This online initiative seeks to ensure effective implementation of SHW act 2013. Once a complaint is submitted to the portal, it will be directly sent to the ICC of the concerned ministry or department.

The SHE BOX will cater effective and immediate and speedier remedy to women facing sexual harassment as well it will help the complainant to monitor the progress of the inquiry.

Currently, the complaint can be filed by central government employees only, which will later be extended to all. Under the vision of digital India program, it will help in achieving the goal of gender equality and women empowerment.

Barack Obama once quoted, “A country’s progress and future depend upon how we treat our women and girls”. Let us ensure that women can live their dreams, by ensuring a safe work environment at the workplace where they can work in par with their male counterparts with no obstacles coming in their way, and appreciation coming their way for achievements.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

IMG-20170904-WA0046

DEEKSHA KATHAYAT

Deeksha Kathayat is currently pursuing BLS LLB (third-year) from Dr. D. Y. Patil College of Law. An enthusiast debater and avid mooter, she’s into occasions where she can express her views on various issues. She believes that we realize the importance of our voice only when we are silenced. An aspiring bureaucrat, she describes herself as Unstoppable, Unconstrained, and Zealous.

Section 498A IPC – The Illusion of Misuse

In the matter of “Rajesh Sharma and Ors Vs. the State of Uttar Pradesh”, the Supreme Court on 27th July, said that there will not be a “normal arrest” of the accused without probing the veracity of the complaint. Previously, in a similar case of Arnesh Kumar Vs the State of Bihar in 2014, the Supreme Court, to protect the human rights of the “innocents”, had restrained the police to directly arrest the accused without proper investigation. Taking the purview of the misuse of the section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code, Supreme Court held that a “Family Welfare Committee” will be constituted by District Legal Services Authorities (DLSA) in every district and the complaints received by the police or magistrate will be referred to this committee. The members of this committee will be social workers, the wives of working officials, paralegal volunteers, social workers, and anyone who is willing and competent. The committee is supposed to submit a report of the case to an investigating officer within one month from the date of receipt of the complaint.

According to the data from National Crime Record Bureau (2015), out of all cases registered under section 498A of domestic and sexual violence, only fifteen percent have been reported in which the accused is convicted. This data to some extent shows the misuse of section 498-A by women. But the data does not provide a holistic picture because there may be different reasons for the acquittal of the accused like improper investigation by the investigating officer, some mid-way settlement, threatening the complainant or the witnesses, etc. So, the data itself is neither comprehensive nor conspicuous.

This move by the Supreme Court has been criticised by the women activists groups as containing an ingrained bias that women misuse the law. While according to the data by National Family Health Survey-3 fifty-three percent of the victims of some sort of sexual or physical violence have never gone to the police and out the forty-seven percent who have sought help of the police, only two percent have filed a First Information Report (FIR) while the remaining have just registered it as a Non-cognizable offence.

In this case, the Supreme Court has seen just one side of the coin while the other remains hidden beneath. This judgement also curtails the powers of the police and only after the review by the “Family Welfare Committee”, can police take any action. Thus, this also creates a virtual justice dispensation system.

The fact the entire process of a full one-month review of the case by the committee is also a problem for the victims of serious sexual or domestic violence. This will delay the justice delivery process and can even cause more sabotage. The victim could be pressurised to withdraw or threatened which again questions the very purpose for which section 498-A was added to the Indian Penal Code.

Also, the rate of conviction is low in nearly all the cases so Supreme Court must rethink considering the damage it would cause to the real victim. This judgement opens the scope of further misuse of the law if not by women, then men. As many are already sceptical of the effectiveness of the judgement, it may delve a victim into the labyrinth of a breakdown if justice is not provided at the appropriate time.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ashish lD

ASHISH KUMAR YADAV

Ashish is an undergraduate student at Cluster Innovation Centre, University of Delhi. The institution has a Meta College concept and focuses on an interdisciplinary approach.  He is the co-founder of two non-profit ventures, one of which deals with education and the other in enhancing scientific communication among the masses. He has done three research projects at Cluster Innovation Centre the first aimed to create a prototype of full-fledged Hindi dictionary and another on the Study of a community’s cultural tradition (Banjara community). The third project was Hafta bazaar aimed to digitalize and study the various weekly markets in Delhi. He is quite ardent in the field of economics and journalism and is intrigued by topics from digital marketing to management, which are reflected in his undergraduate studies. He was also a part of a report published on education.

Women in Politics: Overcoming the Gender Disparity

Gender disparity is described as the idea or perception that individual is unequally treated wholly or partly due to their gender.[1] It is rather influenced by gender stereotypes and perceptions which are usually passed from one individual to another which usually begins from an early age. This disparity has rather caused a hindrance to many women around the world especially those venturing in the male dominated positions: for instance, politics.

Politics have been dominated by male figures for over many years now and recently many more women have emerged and proved to be able to also dominate in this environment. However, it has never been an easy road for these women; as they are faced with both cultural and structural barriers.

These barriers have acted as a bar towards minimizing the gender gap in politics. Moreover, despite a great number of efforts made by leaders towards understanding and minimizing the gender gap and also increasing women’s political power in this field; women still remain the highest rated marginalized group. This explains why there is a scarcity of female candidates and elected officials.

Furthermore, it also challenges the rights of women, their liberty, and freedom; also imposes a stumbling block in nurturing and empowering women into taking leadership roles. Though there may be challenges, more and more women are rising; taking a bold step in becoming political leaders, government officials and this tendency is still persistent. Rwanda is one of the countries with the highest women officials who are political leaders, government officials around the world leading to the increase of gender equality within the country. This is a clear indicator to other states that women can also contribute to the political field of the state and also a transparent way of empowering women.

The notion of women empowerment is a crucial and rooted concept which all head of states should take with urgency. This can be done in various ways such as implementing International human rights standard within their constitutional boundaries, encouraging more women in the political fields etc. That is why the United Nations came up with avenues that would increase and strengthen the women’s participation in politics. These include: equalization of educational opportunities, quotas for female participation in governing bodies legislative reforms to increase focus on issues concerning women and children, financing gender-responsive budgets to equally take into account the needs of women and men.

The above avenues can only strengthen and increase female participation if only countries equally implement these avenues transparently. However, heads of states should not only dwell on the mentioned avenues, another strategy could be holding summits; which are primarily focused on discussing ways in which women can be strengthened in the political era. Holding such can help women already in the political fields share ideas, experiences with other women so as to break free from all the barriers or chains holding women back from continuing in the political field. Just as Nelson Mandela said; ‘freedom can be achieved if women are emancipated from all forms of discrimination’, this also includes gender disparity. Gender equality is a strategic way to freedom. Women should not be tolerated but rather accepted.

Bibliography

[1] Gender equality. Wikipedia.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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LESEGO GAETWESEPE

Lesego Gaetwesepe is a law graduate and she is intrinsically passionate about human rights, community building and empowering young people. She is a participant at the YALI Regional Leadership Center in Southern Africa and was also part of the #ageofconsent project. She was also part of a project facilitated by NACA (NATIONAL AIDS COORDINATING AGENCY). Ms Lesego is currently a volunteer at Gogontlejang Phaladi Pillar of Hope Project and also represents the organisation at the UNESCO Pan African Youth Network for building a Culture of Peace, and she is also taking up training as an ASFL (African Students for Liberty) Local Coordinator.

 

Women and the Law

The status of women has been subject to many radical changes in the past few decades. With decline in their status from ancient to medieval period to demand of equal rights by reformers, the history of women in India has indeed been eventful.

In a sovereign civilized state, laws hold the primary position. Therefore it would be quite true to say that legislations have played a very pivotal role in the transformation of this status.

It all started right before independence with the enactment of Prevention of Sati Act 1829 which was then followed by various other laws. Post independence, the hopes began to rise. India’s constitution and the founding fathers were determined to ensure equality in general and gender equality in particular to the citizens.

The preamble, fundamental rights, directive principles of state policies have provided several safeguards to secure the human rights of the women. This is so, because one of the classes of society which was much oppressed since several years was the class of women. Therefore, it became essential to make them stand on an equal footing by aiding them with such special laws.

Some legal rights which a woman should be aware of are:-

Right to Zero FIR

Under Zero FIR, any woman who has been molested or raped can file a police complaint in any police station in the city. Usually police stations do not register complaints if the crime does not occur in their jurisdiction. However, the Zero FIR rule allows for an FIR to be filed in any police station in the city. Once an FIR is filed, the senior officers will direct the Station House Officer(SHO) to lodge an FIR in the relevant police station.

Right to privacy

Under section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, a woman can record her statement in private if she has been raped. She would record the statement only in front of the magistrate. She can also record her statement in person with a lady constable or police officer.

Right to free legal aid

A woman who walks into the police station has a right to ask for free legal aid. Often there are cases where a woman is misquoted or humiliated and this law has been brought in to ensure she gets proper justice.

Right to virtual complaints

A victim, who is unable to go to the police station, can also register a police complaint by e-mail or registered post. This should be addressed to the senior police officer or Deputy Commissioner or Commissioner of Police. Once they receive the letter, they will ask the SHO of the police station where the incident occurred to investigate and file an FIR. A victim can then give her statement even at her home to the police.

Right to untimely registration

A victim might go to the police station immediately to file a complaint. Police have no right to say that the complaint is not timely and reject it. The woman is allowed to file a complaint even at a later date as her self-respect is important above all.

Right to no arrest

The Supreme Court has ruled that no woman can be arrested before sunrise or after sunset. A woman can exercise this right even if a woman police constable is present at night. If the police deems it important to arrest a woman at night, they need to have a letter from the magistrate explaining why the arrest is necessary.

Right to confidentiality

The law states that the identity of a rape victim cannot be revealed. According to Section 228-A of the Indian Penal Code, the disclosure of a victim’s identity is a punishable offense. The victim’s name cannot be printed or published nor can anything else that will reveal her identity. The law is in place to ensure that she is not ostracised or victimised because of the sexual crime committed. In the judgement also she is only referred to as the ‘victim’ and not by name.

Right to not being interrogated in the police station

Under Section 160 of the Criminal Procedure Code, a woman cannot be called for interrogation to the police station. She can be questioned at her home in the presence of a woman constable and her family or friends.

No sexual harassment

By law, every employer in India has to have a Sexual Harassment Complaints Committee in the organisation (private or public). The Supreme Court has issued guidelines on how to set up these committees. The committee is to comprise of 50 percent women and one member should be part of a women’s welfare group.

Rape is a crime

Section 164 A of the Criminal Procedure Code states that a victim of rape has to undergo a medical examination and the report thereby becomes proof. A victim can ask for the copy of her report. Rape is considered a crime and not a medical condition and thus the medical officer examining her cannot make a diagnosis. The medical officer can state if there has been any sexual activity. He or she cannot decide if rape had taken place or not.

Thus laws have indeed played a very important role in the lives of woman. Their conditions have no doubt been improved. However, the present scene is not desirable too. Women safety is still a very big concern and with time and awareness, the solution shall be sought for.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Krupa Thakkar

KRUPA THAKKAR

Krupa Thakkar is currently pursuing BLS LLB from Government Law College, Mumbai. She is presently in her second year. Always eager to learn new things, she keeps herself updated with happenings around the world. Though not an extrovert, she makes sure that she performs the best whenever she is allotted any task.

An Overview of Acid Attacks in India

“They try hard not to break down as they recall and narrate the most horrific time of their lives. The gruesomeness of the attacks has not numbed their memories. They remember every detail. They flirted seriously with death but chose to live instead. They tell you they dread looking into the mirror in the same breath as they say they want to go out into the world and make a difference.” – Times of India

Acid attack is not something unbelievable in India. It has stunned the inner voice of our country over and over – with ravaged appearances, unbeaten survivors going to the bleeding edges to share their horrendous stories, and families headed to insolvency supporting recuperation costs. The acid attack is the most awful type of wrongdoing in the general public. Acid attack has its precarious ascent in recent years. 85% of casualties are women, so acid attack can overwhelminglybe delegated sexual orientation brutality. For the 15% male casualties, the essential driver of assault is property question.

The most outstanding impacts of an acid attack are the deep rooted substantial distortion. The acid attack is a type of rough assault by tossing destructive substance onto the body of someone else with the goal to deform the body. Primarily acid are tossed at the substance of casualty, blazing them, and harming skin tissue, frequently uncovering and in some cases dissolving the bones. The long outcome of such kind of attack is that it makes the individual visually impaired, and in addition lasting scarring of the face and body. The acid attack makes the life of the individual more regrettable and it additionally influences their social, financial and mental life.

Since acid attack is potentially the most noticeably awful punishment on another human – prompting to finish weakening, loss of pay and opportunity, and even social sequestration-and it can transpire, whenever. The way to this abhorrence remain very open to most and the causes inciting such malevolence can be unfathomably minor.

It was just in April 2013, in the repercussions of what is known as the Nirbhaya case, that the Indian law making body altered the assault laws of the nation and made a particular offense for endeavoured or finished acid attacks.

The new areas in the IPC – 326A and 326B – gave a base sentence of ten years, extendable to life detainment, for an acid assault, and five to seven years’ detainment for endeavoured acid attacks.

Section 100 of the IPC was changed to permit a safeguard of self-preservation for fear of grievous hurt by acid assault. The Criminal Procedure Code was likewise altered to elucidate that an assailant was subject to pay a fine and the medicinal costs of the casualty notwithstanding remuneration. A further amendment ordered all healing facilities to give medicinal guide to acid assault survivors free of cost and to promptly illuminate the police of an acid assault.

While survivors of acid attacks that have happened since February 2013 (when the amendments criminalizing such attacks came into drive) are equipped with the new stringent laws, survivors from before that keep on struggling in the courts to demonstrate their cases under the non-specific criminal arrangements of assault and grievous hurt.

The way that the MHA information shows that the quantity of occurrences have expanded from 83 in 2011 to 309 in 2014 is confirmation of the absence of viable execution of laws controlling the offer of acids.

As of late as December 2015, the Supreme Court issued a request because of an appeal to record by a NGO in the interest of two acid assault survivors who had not got sufficient remuneration. Frustrated, the court noted:

“…attacks have been rampant for the simple reason that there has been no proper implementation of the regulations or control for the supply and distribution of acid…the state has failed to check the distribution of acid falling into the wrong hands even after giving many directions by this court in this regard. Henceforth, a stringent action be taken against those erring persons supplying acid without proper authorisation and also the concerned authorities be made responsible for failure to keep a check on the distribution of the acid…”

Actualizing control, harder discipline and quick track courts committed for attempting these cases comes next. Most casualties lose the inspiration to seek after the battle after the underlying months goes as the irreversibility of their condition get to be distinctly evident to them. Sadness and misery soaks in substituting displeasure and inspiration for equity, bringing down further the rate of arraignment and conviction of attackers.

An acid attack has dependable results on the life of the victim who faces unending torment, perpetual harm and different issues for whatever remains of her life. Their living gets to be distinctly similar to a canal; they turn out to be excessively damaged and humiliated, making it impossible to leave their home and complete basic undertakings not to mention get hitched, have kids, land a position, go to class, and so forth. Regardless of the possibility that they will seek after a typical life, there is no assurance that society itself will regard them as ordinary individuals given their appearance and handicaps after an attack. They will most likely be unable to work, or have the capacity to discover an occupation, and in this manner unendingly battle to survive. In this manner, to check attacks on ladies unforgiving discipline ought to be given to individual with the goal that they feel the same as the casualty feels.

The Crime of an Acid attack is not on a little range, step by step the wrongdoing of acid attack is expanding so as opposed to making such futile law the administration ought to make proper move which genuine will help the casualty.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

prerna-deep

PRERNA DEEP

Prerna Deep is currently a first-year student at Campus Law Centre, University of Delhi.  She has completed English Honours from Miranda House, DU. Literature gave this forever bibliophile the wings to follow her heart and Law gave her the strength to believe that she too can change the world. She considers receiving an award for her essay on ‘Women and Law in India’ from Mr Ram Jethmalani a treasure. When not writing she’s probably binge-watching sitcoms.  She believes nothing describes her best than Virginia Woolf’s words:
“I have a deeply hidden and inarticulate desire for something beyond the daily life.”

Child Abuse: The wild truth

“Give a little love to a child, and you get a great deal back

– John Ruskin

The future of any country lies on the tiny shoulders of their children. It is very important for any nation that their future is secure and nourished; then only these children can blossom into youth and can take bold decisions. But this progress is hampered because of some people of beastly nature and sick mind. Now a days the incidence of Child Abuse is being reported at an alarming rate. And it is mostly being reported at schools or a child is being abused by a teacher or a nanny. Child Abuse is not only inflicting physical torture or sexual harassment but also inflicting mental torture. The recent incidence of Mumbai was reported of a nanny who abused a child so much that the child was hospitalised. It was because of the CCTV footage that people came to know the sick mind of the nanny who ill-treated that small child. Many incidences of Child Abuse is being reported in the influential schools of the country where the child is sexually harassed and molested by a teacher. Schools which are considered to be the second home of a child is now under deep surveillance of the parents as no one can be trusted in today’s world. Small girls are being raped and sexually harassed by the people. The mental trauma that a child suffers is unbearable for the parents to see, their childhood is being crushed at the hands of some sick people. The question that is being highlighted here is: Is our children safe out there? Do we need to hire bodyguards for them? Or there should be some strict laws made in order to curb these offences.

It is quite devastating but a bitter truth that laws comes into play when the incidence has taken place. Laws should be preventative in nature rather than curative, as prevention is better than cure but this cannot be disapproved that one cannot know the mens rea of any people until the act is being committed. Stern measures had been taken by the legislator and as a result, a new law was formulated which is “PROTECTION OF CHILDREN AGAINST SEXUAL OFFENCE ACT 2012 (POCSO)”. The law covers all kinds of sexual offences that is being committed on children and is very child-friendly. Moreover, it covered all the flaws of the previous act which were section 354, 375 and 377 of IPC.  These sections could not effectively protect children as they had many loopholes.  It was only Goa’s Children Act 2003 which basically dealt with Child Abuse.Children are different from Adults. They are more delicate and innocent. They should be handled with care and protection. POCSO deals with this aspect. The act deals with each and every kind of sexual offence that can be committed on the children from assault to harassment and the punishment extends from simple to rigorous punishment. Moreover, the act also deals with child pornography and strict punishment is there for that. The act is quite child-friendly as precaution is taken while handling children with care. Special Courts are being formed to deal with such kind of issues moreover police should be friendly while handling children and in purpose inquiry it must be taken in the presence of those people with which child is comfortable. Even there are provisions that a child can testify in front of camera if he/ she feels comfortable and the accused must not be present at that time. As soon as the crime is committed people present should report to the police and failure on the part of both police and reporter is liable for punishment. Teachers, Police and few more people are kept in special section failure on their part are liable for more punishment. There are provisions of medical examination in this act. This act also talks about the public awareness where both central and state government are entrusted with the work to make people aware about the provision of this act.

Child Abuse is like diabetes it is silent killer which kills a child from inside. It is a disease which cannot be ignored. These offences are ruining the future of the country which could not be tolerated. Even big famous personality had been the victim of child abuse. It is not only the government which needs to look into the matter but parents also play an important role. Parents need to take proper care of their children as they do not know as to what is appropriate and inappropriate. Who are good people or bad people? As Jane D. Hull has said, “at the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.”



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

twinkle-singh

TWINKLE SINGH

It’s always being a difficult task for me to write something about myself but to start with, I am a law student studying in Chanakya National Law University. I love to write the articles based on law and it’s legal aspect. I believe in having a colourful life rather than being black and white. Apart from law, I love drawing especially cartoon characters but I made only for myself that too when I really feel like. I am active in social media quite a lot. I love experimenting such as in the field of making deserts, I love making cakes in the free time. This is my short and sweet bio which is not sufficient to describe myself but at least it can give some idea about me.