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Women-Centric laws in India: Examining the Impact of India's Gender-Specific Legislation

yatra nāryastu pūjyante ramante tatra devatāḥ।

yatraitāstu na pūjyante sarvāstatrāphalā: kriyā: ॥

This Shlok means that Divinity flourishes in places where women are respected. All deeds and rituals are futile where they are Dishonored.

In most parts of the world where patriarchy has taken over the women had their roles to play. They were treated equal to men. Because as per the Hindu scripts' women are compared to "Devi". Women still in India are Involved in every activity and are even surpassing men in every field. But the History is Evident that time by time atrocities against women had been increasing and Children and Women became the most Vulnerable Sections of the Society.

By the History it is conferred that in the time of Vedic Period the position and situation was good, they were given rights to participate in assembly, debates and were also given equal religious status. The condition worsened post the Vedic period or in fact after the Mughal invasion in Indian Subcontinent. Purdah System, Female Infanticide, Abduction and Forced Marriages, Exploitation of Women in Wars and Sati Practice are the major atrocities that were faced by women and girl child specially.

Women has also faced major cruelty in the British Era, Child Marriage, limited Access to Education, Social Restrictions, Violence and Abuse are the Major Atrocities that were faced by women. Compiling of all the things the basic conclusion derived from this is that as seen from the Vedic period the situation of women in Indian Society has been constantly declining has still has not regained its original identity yet.

In recent decades, India, a nation with a diversified population and a rich cultural legacy, has undergone a tremendous change in how it views women's rights and gender equality. The Indian government has made aggressive steps to alleviate gender gaps through the enactment of women-centric policies, acknowledging the historical and systemic obstacles faced by women. In addition to empowering women and fostering a more inclusive society, these laws seek to shield them against various forms of violence, discrimination, and inequality.

India has over the years passed a variety of laws addressing problems encountered by women, such as dowry-related offences, domestic violence, workplace harassment, and inheritance rights. These statutes demonstrate an increasing dedication to ending discriminatory practises and guaranteeing women's equal access to justice, opportunities, and resources.

Following independence, the government made numerous efforts to stop violence against women.

Constitutional Safeguards:
The Constitution of India, 1950 safeguards the right for the individuals living in Indian Subcontinent as per Part III of the constitution with the Title of "FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS". This part in the Constitution doesn't talks about women explicitly or directly but as a person or a citizen of this country their basic rights starts from the Constitution part III.

Article 14: Right to equality is one of the important fundamental rights of Indian constitution that guarantees equal rights for everyone, irrespective of religion, gender, caste, race, or place of birth. It ensures equal employment opportunities in the government and insures against discrimination by the State in matters of employment based on caste, religion, etc.

Article 19: This Right mainly talks about Right to freedom of speech and expression.

Article 21: Right to Life of a person that he should be not deprived of his personal liberty and life until there is a procedure established by law.

However, these are the mainly the basic rights that do not directly talk abut women but someway or the other they are inclusive of women. But Article 15 states that nothing in the article shall prevent state for making special laws for women.

Indian Penal Code:
The Indian Penal Code of 1860 is the official criminal code of Indian Territory. It also has many Explicit mentioned Substantial laws related to women.

Section 304B: This Section states that if a husband or the family of the husband subjects the woman to cruelty because of "demanding of dowry" and if the death of woman occurs then the husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused her death and shall be punished shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years, but which may extend to imprisonment for life.

Section 354: According to the Section, anyone who assaults or uses unlawful force against a woman with the intent to offend her modesty while knowing that their acts would also offend the woman faces a sentence of up to two years in jail, a fine, or a combination of the three.

Section 354A: The following behaviours are included in this Section as acts that might constitute sexual harassment:

  1. Any unwanted physical interactions or advance.
  2. The request for sexual favours
  3. Forcefully exposing a woman to pornography
  4. Using sexual allusions

According to the Section, men who violate any of the first three points listed above face a sentence of up to three years in prison, a fine, or a combination of the two. Men who engage in the behaviour described in point 4 are subject to a fine, up to one year in prison, or both.

Section 354B: According to this section A man who assaults or uses criminal force on any woman or abets any such act to disrobe the woman or compel her to be naked, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term, not than three years but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Section 354C: According to this Section , a man who witnesses or records an image of a woman performing a private act in circumstances where a woman is presumed to be acting alone shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment for a term not less than one year, but which may extend to three years, and shall also be subject to a fine, and shall be punished on a second or subsequent conviction.

Section 354D: According to this Section, stalking occurs when a male follows a woman, makes personal contact with her, or tries to do so despite the woman's obvious indifference, or keeps tabs on her online, via email, or through any other form of electronic communication.

However, it would not qualify as stalking if the communication was done with the State's permission to investigate a crime, in accordance with the law, or in a situation that was deemed reasonable. The individual would face a fine and a period of imprisonment that could last up to three years if convicted of the crime for the first time. For a second or subsequent conviction, the penalty is a fine and a term of jail that may last up to five years.

Section 366: According to this Section , Anyone who kidnaps or abducts a woman with the intention of forcing her to marry someone against her will, or knowing it is likely that she will be forced to marry someone against her will, or with the intent of forcing or seducing her to engage in illicit sexual activity, or knowing it is likely that she will be forced or seduced to engage in illicit sexual activity, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term that may extend to ten years, as well as being subject to a fine.

Section 366A: According to this Section, A person who coerces a girl under the age of 18 into going somewhere or doing something with the knowledge that doing so will force the girl into illegal sexual contact is punishable by up to ten years in prison and a fine.

Section 366B: According to this Section, any person who brings a girl under the age of 21 from another country into India with the intent or knowledge that this will lead to the girl being forced into sexual activity without her consent is punishable by up to ten years in prison and a fine.

Section 375- According to this Section, A male is said to have committed "rape" if he did one of the following:

  1. forced a woman to have her vagina, mouth, urethra, or anus touched by his penis, to whatever degree; or
  2. forces a woman to insert any object or body part into her vagina, urethra, or anus, other than the penis.
  3. manipulates a woman's body in any way that results in penetration into her vagina, urethra, anus, or any other part of her body; or
  4. puts his mouth in a woman's vagina, anus, or urethra, or forces her to do so with him or anybody else,

Sections 376, 376A, 376B, 376C, 376D Deals with the further aspect of Rape.
  • Section 376 - Punishment for rape
  • Section 376A - Punishment for causing death or resulting in persistent vegetative state of victim.
  • Section 376B - Sexual intercourse by husband upon his wife during separation
  • Section 376C - Sexual intercourse by a person in authority
  • Section 376D - Gang rape
  • Section 498A - According to this Section, if a woman is subjected to cruelty by her husband or a family member of her husband, that person faces up to three years in prison and a fine in addition to their punishment.
Code of Criminal Procedure,1973
Section 125: In this Section Maintenance for the wife, kid, and parents is provided. The court may order the respondent, or husband, to maintain the wife by paying her maintenance on a regular basis if the party has invoked Section 125 of the Code.

Women Specific Legislation
The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
The Dowry Prohibition Act is a piece of Indian law that forbids the giving or receiving of dowries under specific circumstances. When a couple gets married, the bride's family is expected to offer the groom and his family property or other valuables as dowry.

The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987
To particularly target and prevent the practise of sati, the Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987 was passed. Its primary goal is to establish legal sanctions for its prevention and punishment as well as to make the act of sati, or aiding and abetting sati, a crime.

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
Indian lawmakers passed the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, to give domestic violence victims legal protection and redress. It acknowledges the prevalence of domestic violence and aims to address the financial, emotional, sexual, physical, and verbal abuse that women may experience in the privacy of their own homes or in intimate relationships.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (PREVENTION, PROHIBITION and REDRESSAL) Act, 2013
To prevent and resolve sexual harassment of women at work, the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013, was passed in India. The act establishes a legal framework for preventing and resolving cases of sexual harassment and acknowledges the right of every woman to a safe and secure workplace.

The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986
The Legislature passed the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act in 1986 to outlaw the indecent depiction of women in some media. The act intends to promote gender equality and respect for women's dignity as well as to prevent the representation of women in a way that is demeaning, exploitative, or disparaging.

It is true that excessive use of anything is harmful. These rules were created to safeguard women and ensure their safety. But with time, women began abusing these regulations, and men were forced to bear the penalties. Women began abusing these legal provisions by interfering with men's rights. Additionally, these rules were created so that women might abuse them to stroke their egos and harass men.

Males are kept in a disadvantageous position by these kinds of laws. Women-centric legislation were created for a worthy reason, but as circumstances changed, they had a negative impact on all men. It is thus because women attempt to capture and imprison most family members to exact retribution. Even bogus cases are brought about out of retaliation. There have even been instances where women have wed many men and then cheated on them by stealing expensive items.

The wives demanded increasingly more maintenance out of greed for their husbands' possessions. Although we have always supported women's empowerment, this does not imply that we should harm the interests of the other gender to benefit one. In contrast to when a false accusation is made against an innocent man, even after he is found not guilty, he is unable to match his eyes with those of society, is unable to walk with pride, and society perceives him as guilty, rendering him mentally raped.

People used to think about a girl's entire life when she is raped and show sympathy for her. The worst effects of these regulations are innocent husbands who commit themselves because they can no longer handle the mocking remarks of society. We need to stop doing this and start framing our own analyses rather than simply observing what is directly in front of us since sometimes what we perceive as genuine is concealed from our view.

Primary Sources:
  1. (Constitution of India, 1950)
  2. (Indian Penal Code,1860)
  3. C_1973.pdf (Code of Criminal Procedure,1973)

Secondary Sources:

Written By: Kushagra Sinha, BA LLB. (2021-2026) - Lloyd Law College
Ph no: +91 8840083416, Email: [email protected]

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