Violence in any form is illegal. The Indian Laws on violence against women provide protection and support to women and families affected by violence. The most significant laws related to violence against women are the the Criminal Law…
Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013
In line with the recommendations made by the Justice Verma Committee, to prevent violence against women, amendments were made to the Indian Penal Code, 1860, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 through the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.
* New offences have been added to the Indian Penal Code, like acid attack, sexual harassment, voyeurism, disrobing a woman, and stalking.
* Punishments for crimes like rape, sexual harassment, stalking, voyeurism, acid attacks, indecent gestures like words and inappropriate touch has been increased.
* Definition of rape has been expanded to include oral sex and non-penetrative sex. * Aggravated rape expanded to include rape by a member of the armed forces deployed in an area, rape committed during communal or sectarian violence or on a woman incapable of giving consent.
* Punishments increased to life term and death penalty for gang rape and gang rape causing vegetative state of the victim.
* Mandatory for all public and private hospitals to immediately provide free first aid or medical treatment to victims of acid attack and rape, and to immediately inform the police of such incident.
* Human trafficking prevention measures including trafficking of children for exploitation -physical exploitation or any form of sexual exploitation, slavery, servitude, or the forced removal of organs.
Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 was enacted to protect women from domestic violence in the year 2005. The Act provides a definition of ‘domestic violence’, including not only physical violence but also other forms of violence such as emotional/verbal, sexual, and economic abuse. The Act provides services and support for victims of domestic violence including protection orders.
* Provides protection to the wife or female live-in partner from domestic violence at the hands of the husband or male live-in partner or his relatives, the law also extends its protection to women living in a household such as sisters, widows or mothers.
* Definition of ‘domestic violence’ includes abuse or the threat of abuse that is physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economic. Harassment for any unlawful demand for any dowry or other property or valuable is also included in the definition.
* Aggrieved woman has the right to reside in a shared household, either owned or rented jointly by the aggrieved person and the respondent or owned and rented separately, but in respect to which either has an interest, title, right, or equity, or Joint family’s home in which the respondent is a member, even without the aggrieved person or respondent having any interest, right, or title in it such a house.
* The respondent can be directed to removed from the shared household or to secure an alternate accommodation or to pay rent for the same.
* The aggrieved woman is entitled to file for protection orders, residence orders, monetary relief, custody orders and compensation orders under the Act.
* Protection Officers appointed by the State for conducting enquiries into cases of violence and play a pivotal role in resolving issues with a positive approach. The Act also recognizes and involves nongovernmental organisations as service providers for providing assistance to the abused with respect to her medical examination, obtaining legal aid, safe shelter.
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention and Protection & Redressal) Act, 2013
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention and Protection & Redressal) Act, 2013 The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 The Act was brought into force in 2013 to provide protection to women against sexual harassment and a safe and secure environment at the workplace. The Act applies to any organization, public and private sector including organized and unorganized sectors. It gives a comprehensive definition for sexual harassment at the workplace broadening it to cover circumstances of implied or explicit promise or threat to a woman’s employment prospects or creation of hostile work environment or humiliating treatment, which can affect her health or safety. It covers all woman, irrespective of age or employment status, whether in the organised or unorganised sectors, public or private including clients and customers.The domestic workers has also included under the ambit of the Act. The workplace expands to include any place visited by the employee during the course of employment including transportation. The law provides a redressal mechanism in the form of Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) and Local Complaints Committee (LCC). The Act places onus on the employer to create an environment which is free from sexual harassment. Employers are required to organize workshops and awareness programmes at regular intervals for sensitizing the employees about the provision of this legislation and display notices regarding the constitution of Internal Committee and penal consequences of sexual harassment.
Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Act 1984
The Dowry Prohibition Act was enacted in the year 1961, to eradicate the practice of dowry. Both giving and taking bribes is prohibited by the Act. The Act has been amended time to time. The Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Act 1984 was followed by the Dowry Prohibition (Maintenance of List of presents to the Bride and Bridegroom) Rules in 1985 for carrying out the purposes of the Act.
* The Act defined ‘dowry’ as any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given wither directly or indirectly by one party to a marriage to the other or the parents of either party.
* Penalty for giving and taking dowry or abetting the giving and taking of dowry is imprisonment for a term which is not less than 5 years and with a fine not less than 15000 rupees or the amount of the value of such dowry, whichever is more.
* Demanding dowry, directly or indirectly, from parents or other relatives or guardian of the bride or bridegroom, is punishable with imprisonment for a term not less than 6 months, which can extend to 2 years and a fine that can be extend to 10,000 rupees.
* Offers through advertisement of any share in property or money or both as a share in business or other interest as consideration for the marriage of son or daughter or any relative is punishable up to a term of not less than 6 months which may extend to 5 years, or with fine which may extend to 15000 rupees.
* Any agreement for giving and taking dowry is void.
It clearly stated that the list of gifts, in form of a sworn affidavit, has to be notarized, signed by a protection officer or a dowry prohibition officer and kept by both the parties. Failing this can invite heavy penalty including a three-year term in jail for not only bride and groom but also their parents.
Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006
Every child marriage, whether solemnised before or after the commencement of this Act, shall be voidable at the option of the contracting party who was a child at the time of the marriage: Provided that a pThe Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA), was introduced in 2006 to address the weaknesses inherent in the former legislations. It came into effect on 1 November 2007, replacing the Child Marriage Restraint Act (CMRA) of 1929. This law was amended in 1978, wherein the legal age of marriage of girls was raised from 15 to 18 years and of boys from 18 to 21 years. The PCMA defines child marriage as marriage in which either the girl or the boy is underage, i.e., the girl is under 18 years of age or the boy is younger than 21 years. The provisions of the Act prohibit child marriage, protect and provide relief to victim and enhance punishment for those who abet, promote or solemnize such marriage. The Act also calls appointment of Child Marriage Prohibition Officers to prevent child marriage by taking action, collect evidence for effective prosecution and advise the locals not to indulge in promoting or helping or allowing solemnization of child marriage. Their duties include creating awareness of the evil of such child marriage, sensitizing the community on the issue, furnishing periodical returns and statistics when the government may direct.
*petition for annulling a child marriage by a decree of nullity may be filed in the district court only by a contracting party to the marriage who was a child at the time of the marriage.
* If at the time of filing a petition, the petitioner is a minor, the petition may be filed through his or her guardian or next friend along with the Child Marriage Prohibition Officer.
* The petition under this section may be filed at any time but before the child filing the petition completes two years of attaining majority.
* While granting a decree of nullity under this section, the district court shall make an order directing both the parties to the marriage and their parents or their guardians to return to the other party, his or her parents or guardian, as the case may be, the money, valuables, ornaments and other gifts received on the occasion of the marriage by them from the other side, or an amount equal to the value of such valuables, ornaments, other gifts and money.
* Whoever, being a male adult above eighteen years of age, contracts a child marriage shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment which may extend to two years or with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees or with both.
* Whoever performs, conducts, directs or abets any child marriage shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment which may extend to two years and shall be liable to fine which may extend to one lakh rupees unless he proves that he had reasons to believe that the marriage was not a child marriage.
* Where a child contracts a child marriage, any person having charge of the child, whether as parent or guardian or any other person or in any other capacity, lawful or unlawful, including any member of an organisation or association of persons who does any act to promote the marriage or permits it to be solemnised, or negligently fails to prevent it from being solemnised, including attending or participating in a child marriage, shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend up to one lakh rupees.