Laws and constitutions for women
The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005
Domestic Violence: The term domestic violence includes elaborately all forms of actual abuse or threat of abuse of physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and economic nature that can harm, cause injury to, endanger the health, safety, life, limb or well-being, either mental or physical of the aggrieved person. The definition is wide enough to cover child sexual abuse, harassment caused to a woman or her relatives by unlawful dowry demands, and marital rape.
The kinds of abuse covered under the Domestic Violence Act ‘2005 are:
1. Physical Abuse
• an act or conduct causing bodily pain, harm, or danger to life, limb, or health;
• an act that impairs the health or development of the aggrieved person;
• an act that amounts to assault, criminal intimidation and criminal force.
2. Sexual Abuse
• any conduct of a sexual nature that abuses, humiliates, degrades, or violates the dignity of a woman.
3. Verbal and Emotional Abuse
• any insult, ridicule, humiliation, name-calling;
• insults or ridicule for not having a child or a male child;
• repeated threats to cause physical pain to any person in whom the aggrieved person is interested.
4. Economic Abuse
• depriving the aggrieved person of economic or financial resources to which she is entitled under any law or custom or which she acquires out of necessity such as household necessities, stridhan, her jointly or separately owned property, maintenance, and rental payments;
• disposing of household assets or alienation of movable or immovable assets;
• restricting continued access to resources or facilities in which she has an interest or entitlement by virtue of the domestic relationship including access to the shared household.
5. Domestic Relationship: A domestic relationship as under the Domestic Violence Act ‘2005 includes live-in relationships and other relationships arising out of membership in a family.
6. Beneficiaries under the Domestic Violence Act ‘2005:
• Women: The Domestic Violence Act ‘2005 covers women who have been living with the Respondent in a shared household and are related to him by blood, marriage, or adoption and includes women living as sexual partners in a relationship that is in the nature of marriage. Women in fraudulent or bigamous marriages or in marriages deemed invalid in law are also protected.
• Children: The Domestic Violence Act ‘2005 also covers children who are below the age of 18 years and includes adopted, step or foster children who are the subjects of physical, mental, or economical torture. Any person can file a complaint on behalf of a child.
• Respondent: The Domestic Violence Act ‘2005 defines the Respondent as any adult male person who is or has been in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved person and includes relatives of the husband or male partner.
Shared Household: A shared household is a household where the aggrieved person lives or has lived in a domestic relationship either singly or along with the Respondent. Such a household should be owned or tenanted, either jointly by both of them or by either of them, where either of them or both of them jointly or singly have any right, title, interest or equity in it. It also includes a household that may belong to the joint family of which the Respondent is a member, irrespective of whether the Respondent or person aggrieved has any right, title or interest in the shared household.
RIGHTS GRANTED TO WOMEN UNDER DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT ‘2005
Right to reside in a shared household:
The Domestic Violence Act ‘2005 secures a woman’s right to reside in the matrimonial or shared household even if she has no title or rights in the household. A part of the house can be allotted to her for her personal use. A court can pass a residence order to secure her right of residence in the household.
3. The Supreme Court has ruled in a recent judgment that a wife’s claim for alternative accommodation lie only against her husband and not against her in-laws and that her right to ‘shared household’ would not extend to the self-acquired property of her in-laws.
4. Right to obtain assistance and protection:
A woman who is victimized by acts of domestic violence will have the right to obtain the services and assistance of Police Officers, Protection Officers, Service Providers, Shelter Homes and medical establishments as well as the right to simultaneously file her own complaint under Section 498 A of the Indian Penal Code for matrimonial cruelty.
The Sexual harassement of woman at workplace Act, 2013
• The Act defines sexual harassment at the work place and creates a mechanism for redressal of complaints. It also provides safeguards against false or malicious charges.
• The Act also covers concepts of 'quid pro quo harassment' and 'hostile work environment' as forms of sexual harassment if it occurs in connection with an act or behaviour of sexual harassment.
• The definition of "aggrieved woman", who will get protection under the Act is extremely wide to cover all women, irrespective of her age or employment status, whether in the organised or unorganised sectors, public or private and covers clients, customers and domestic workers as well.
• While the "workplace" in the Vishaka Guidelines is confined to the traditional office set-up where there is a clear employer-employee relationship, the Act goes much further to include organisations, department, office, branch unit etc. in the public and private sector, organized and unorganized, hospitals, nursing homes, educational institutions, sports institutes, stadiums, sports complex and any place visited by the employee during the course of employment including the transportation. Even non-traditional workplaces which involve tele-commuting will get covered under this law.
• The Committee is required to complete the inquiry within a time period of 90 days. On completion of the inquiry, the report will be sent to the employer or the District Officer, as the case may be, they are mandated to take action on the report within 60 days.
• Every employer is required to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee at each office or branch with 10 or more employees. The District Officer is required to constitute a Local Complaints Committee at each district, and if required at the block level.
• The Complaints Committees have the powers of civil courts for gathering evidence.
• The Complaints Committees are required to provide for conciliation before initiating an inquiry, if requested by the complainant.
• The inquiry process under the Act should be confidential and the Act lays down a penalty of Rs 5000 on the person who has breached confidentiality.
• The Act requires employers to conduct education and sensitisation programmes and develop policies against sexual harassment, among other obligations.
• Penalties have been prescribed for employers. Non-compliance with the provisions of the Act shall be punishable with a fine of up to ₹ 50,000. Repeated violations may lead to higher penalties and cancellation of licence or registration to conduct business.
• Government can order an officer to inspect workplace and records related to sexual harassment in any organisation.
Main article: Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013
Through the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, Section 354 was added to the Indian Penal Code that stipulates what consists of a sexual harassment offence and what the penalties shall be for a man committing such an offence. Penalties range from one to three years imprisonment and/or a fine. Additionally, with sexual harassment being a crime, employers are obligated to report offences.
The Dowry Prohibition Act . 1961
In this act, `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 parents 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 said parties but does not include dower or mahr in the case of persons to whom the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) applies.
Penalty for giving or taking dowry.
If any person, after the commencement of this Act, gives or takes or abets the giving or taking of dowry, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years, and with the fine which shall not be less than fifteen thousand rupees or the amount of the value of such dowry, whichever is more:
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:
Provided that the Court may, for adequate and special reasons to be mentioned in the judgment, impose a sentence of imprisonment for a term of less than six month.
Property rights for women in india
• Daughters have equal right of inheritance as sons to their father's property.
• Daughters also have a share in the mother's property.
• The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 (39 of 2005) came into force from 9th September, 2005. the Amendment Act removes gender discriminatory provisions in the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 and gives the following rights to daughters
• The daughter of a coparcener shall by birth become a coparcener in her own right in the same manner as the son;
• The daughter has the same rights in the coparcenary property as she would have had if she had been a son;
• The daughter shall be subject to the same liability in the said coparcenary property as that of a son;
• The daughter is allotted the same share as is allotted to a son;
• A married daughter has no right to shelter in her parents’ house, nor maintenance, charge for her being passed on to her husband. However, a married daughter has a right of residence if she is deserted, divorced or widowed.
• A woman has full rights over any property that she has earned or that has been gifted or willed to her, provided she has attained majority. She is free to dispose of these by sale, gift or will as she deems fit.
• A married woman has exclusive right over her individual property. Unless she gifts it in part or wholly to anyone. She is the sole owner and manager of her assets whether earned, inherited or gifted to her.
• Entitled to maintenance, support and shelter from her husband, or if her husband belongs to a joint family, then from the family.
• Upon partition of a joint family estate, between her husband and his sons, she is entitled to a share equal to as any other person. Similarly, upon the death of her husband, she is entitled to an equal share of his portion, together with her children and his mother.
• She is entitled to maintenance from children who are not dependents. She is also a Class I heir.
• A widowed mother has a right to take a share equal to the share of a son if a partition of joint family estate takes place among the sons.
• All property owned by her may be disposed by sale, will or gift as she chooses.
• In case she dies intestate, her children inherit equally, regardless of their sex.
Section 125 of Criminal procedure code prescribes for maintenance of wives, children and parents.
If any person having sufficient means neglects or refuses to maintain-
1. His wife, who is unable to maintain herself, or
2. His legitimate or illegitimate minor child,
3. His father or mother, unable to maintain himself or herself
Court in such cases may order such person to make a monthly allowance for maintenance to the wife, child or parents
• Order issued by a Magistrate of the first class
• Magistrate can also during the pendency of the proceeding order monthly allowance for the interim maintenance
• Application for the monthly allowance for the interim maintenance and expenses of proceeding shall, as far as possible, be disposed of with in sixty days from the date of the service of notice of the application
• "Wife" includes a woman who has been divorced by, or has obtained a divorce from, her husband and has not remarried.