Introduction Women in India face a lot of social decriminalization as they are not aware of their legal rights. Women empowerment plays a vital role in letting them know their rights.
Legal rights for Women Following are some important legal rights for women that every one must be aware of.
Right to free legal aid Often, woman treated badly in the police station. If woman goes to police station without a lawyer she might be ignored, humiliated or quoted wrong for her allegations. Its always better for a woman to go to the police station accompanied by a professional lawyer and record her statement. Sometime police may take the allegation lightly and not ready to take an FIR. As per Delhi High Court, the SHO must bring any rape allegation to the Delhi Legal Services Authority whenever a rape is reported. Every woman must be aware of the fact that she has a right to get the legal aid and she can demand for it.
Privacy rights while recording any statement Under section 164 of Indian criminal code, if a woman has been raped can record her statement in front of magistrate without the presence of anybody else, even when the case is under trial. She also can record her statement under only one police officer and woman constable in a private place, where the place is convenient and not crowded. Police will be responsible for her safety and privacy. Its also important for the woman to feel comfortable, not be under stress while recording or narrating the incident.
Time does not matter for registration Police can not deny to register her complain, no matter either it is early morning or late night. Even if a considerable period of time has over since the incident of rape or molestation took place. There might be many reason why a woman would delay going to the police station to report a complain. Police consider her safety, dignity, reputation of the family or might be threats from the criminal. Dignity and self respect of a woman comes as a first preference.
Right to online complaints According to Delhi police guidelines, a woman has the rights to lodge a complain via email or registered post to senior police officer of commissioner or deputy commissioner of police level. Finally, police can come over to the victim's residence to record her statement.
Cops has no rights to say 'NO' Sometimes, the police station under which the rape incident occurs refuses to register the victim's complaint in order to keep clean of responsibility, and tries moving her to another police station. In such cases, she has the right to lodge a FIR at any police station in the city. The senior officer will then direct the SEO of the subsequent police station to lodge the FIR. A rape victim can register her police complaint from any police station under the zero FIR ruling by Supreme Court. This supreme court ruling that very few women are aware of.
No arrest rule after sunset According to a supreme court, a woman can't be arrested after sunset and before sunrise. There are many such incident where women being harassed by the police. But all these can be avoided if you exercise the right of being present in the police station only during day. Even if woman constable accompanying the officers, the police can't arrest a woman at night. If she committed a serious crime, the police has to get it in writing from the magistrate.
Protect her identity Strictly under no circumstances can the identity of a rape victim be revealed. Neither the police nor media can make known the name of the victim in public. Section 228-A of the Indian Penal Code makes the disclosure of a victim's identity a punishable offence. Printing or publishing the name or any other things are prohibited. This is done to prevent social victimization of the victim of a sexual violence. Even when judgement is in progress, the name of the victim is not indicated, she is only described as 'victim' in the judgement.
Even doctor can't decide A rape is a crime and not a medical condition. A rape can't be dismissed even if the doctor says rape had not taken place. Rape needs to be medically examined as per section 164 A, and only report can be treated as proof. A woman has the right to have a copy of the medical report from the doctor.
Woman can't be called to the police station Woman can't be called to the police station for any kind of interrogation under section 160. The police can interrogate a woman constable and family members of friends.
Employer must protect all the female employees It is the duty of every firms, public and private organisation to create a Sexual Harassment Complaints Committee within the organisation. According to the Supreme Court guidelines, it is mandatory for all types of organisation to set up these kind of committee by a woman and included 50% women as members and at-least one of the member should be from a women's welfare group.
The Ministry of Women and Child Development is the nodal agency for all matters pertaining to welfare, development and empowerment of women in India. There are some specific laws to fulfill constitutional obligations of women empowerment. Some of the such laws are as follows -
1. The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987.
2. The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006.
3. The Pre-Conception & Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994.
4. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place (Prevention, Protection and) Act, 2013.
5. The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.
6. The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961.
7. The Medical termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.
8. The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.
9. The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956.
The above mentioned and several such other laws provide specific legal rights to women in India.