Self-respect is a confidence and pride in knowing that your behavior is both
honorable and dignified. When you harass or vilify someone, you not only
disrespect them but yourself also. Street harassment, sexual violence, sexual
harassment, gender-based violence, and racism, are all acts committed by a
person who in fact has no self-respect. -Respect yourself by respecting
This article intends to highlight the importance of the safety of
women and the legal remedies to help if she is facing abuse in any way. The
major points covered in this article would be statistics related to domestic
violence, acid attacks, revenge porn, dowry death, and rape.
Violence against women is increasing day-by-day. With the arrival of technology,
we can at least help some of the victims and provide them shelter. But when
violence against women is normalized and glorified in movies, novels, and
viewpoints, we are forced to accept the fact that we are living in the world of
misogyny where people think they control the actions of their inferiors- the
women. The series of events in a woman's life begins with mild catcalls or
stalking which is often glorified and romanticized in movies might even spin-off
to take the form of violent sexual abuse, rape, revenge porn, and so on.
The need to educate and enlighten the youth on sex education and the importance
of consent is now more than ever. The disappointing fact is that even after
thousands of domestic abuse and rape cases are being reported, people ignore or
disapprove of the concept of feminism and women empowerment and neglect these
atrocities as they are not rare. This also has an implied meaning that women are
supposed to suffer tortures, not complain, and be in an inferior position.
Slut-shaming and victim-blaming are the approaches of most of the society which
tries to justify rape or support the rapist and demean the victim. Provoking or
shaming the survivor and compelling them to commit suicide because of a rape or
abuse is another common reply to these issues and the biggest mistake. The most
painful fact is that women also take part in victim-blaming and glorifying
Here are some worldwide statistical data regarding the issues faced by women in
their daily lives.
- Almost 35% of women have suffered sexual harassment or abuse from
non-partners at some point in their lives.
- Men who witnessed their fathers abusing or harassing their mothers, and
the men who experienced violence in their childhood from their home were
more likely to report intimate partner violence as adults.
- Almost 49% of human trafficking victims are adult women.
- Almost 650 million girls are estimated to be married before 18 years of
- Almost 15 million girls from the age of 15 to 19 have experienced forced
sex or rape .
- In the US, almost 23% of females enrolled in undergraduate courses
reported having experienced sexual assault.
- 1 in 10 women (from the age of 15) in the EU have experienced cyber
harassment or bullying.
- In a study, 40% to 60% of women said that they have experienced street
harassment, mainly stalking, whistling, catcalling, sexual comments,
staring/ogling. Also, 31% to 64% of men said that they have carried out such
- Australian survey results show that almost 39% of women from age 15 and
above have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.
- 82% of women parliamentarians in a survey reported experiencing
psychological violence (gestures, mannerisms, remarks of a sexist or sexual
nature) on their terms.
The statistics given above are self-explanatory. The need for women's rights and
enforcing the legal provisions for the basic rights of women is the most
important action to be taken now. Sexual harassment rates are shooting up
alarmingly and the existing laws are constantly proving to be ineffective or
I really don't advise a woman who wants to have things her own way to get
These are the words by the well-known British writer Virginia Woolf who was a
feminist and whose works mainly dealt with women's safety and independence. The
most common causes of domestic violence were identified as dowry demands and
failure to produce a son, while the major types of violence and oppression
mentioned were beating, burning, female infanticide, child marriage, treatment
of widows, harassment for dowry, and desertion by the husband. Legal action was
mentioned solely about well-known cases that were wide reportable within the
The concept of marriage in India is filled with deep-rooted traditions and
cultural beliefs. One such tradition which resists change even after the world
changed a lot is the act of giving and taking dowry. Dowry is the transfer of
parental property or money as gifts for the marriage of a girl child. Dowry
Death is a considerably new offense added in the Indian Penal Code by virtue of
Almost 20 women die every day because of harassment in the name of
dowry (either murdered or compelled to commit suicide). Dowry deaths rose
from about 19 per day in 2001 to 21 per day in 2016. According to the NCRB
report, a total of 7,621 cases of dowry deaths have been reported in India. UP
reported a maximum of 2473 cases of dowry deaths with 2.38 cases of dowry deaths
reported per lakh female population.
Rajasthan reported the most of thirteen
percent, 811 cases of cruelty by husband/relatives in 2016, with thirty-nine
cases reportable per large integer feminine population. UP reported the
highest number of cases (2867) followed by Karnataka (1698) and Orissa
(1400). Jharkhand reported the very highest rate of 8.35 followed by Orissa
(6.64) followed by Mysore (5.50). A total of 437 cases have been reported under
the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act in 2016. Bihar reported the
highest number of 171 cases which were followed by Kerala with 111 cases. Kerala
showed the very best rate (1.00).
Dowry Death is still prevalent in India because for several reasons. But the
most serious reason which needs to be changed is that women are still considered
as property. Spending on girls is considered as watering plants in the
neighbor's garden which means that educating and spending money on girls is
useless as they are supposed to leave the house. They are also hated upon by
their family because they need money to be married off. Women are considered as
objects who bring money and wealth to their husband's home and are tortured
mentally and physically for dowry by their in-laws.
Dowry Death has been criminalized under the Indian Penal Code
- Where the death of a woman is caused by any burns or bodily injury or
occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven-year of her
marriage and it is shown that soon before her death she was subjected to
cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband for, or
in connection with any demand for dowry, such death shall be called Dowry
Death, and such husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused her
- Whoever commits dowry death shall be punished with imprisonment for a a
term which shall not be less than seven years, but which may extend to
imprisonment for life.
Women are abandoned or abused for dowry, a system that is utilized by the
Groom's families for money. This tradition is the reason why girl-children are
either killed at birth or not educated and considered a burden. This is a harsh
reality clipping the wings of women even in the 21st century. How long should
women be pinned down in the name of patriarchal toxic traditions?
As many analysts point out, it is the subordinate position of the
daughter-in-law and the wife in the affinal home which causes oppression and
harassment of the girl. In addition, the unwillingness of the parents to
receive the daughter back in their home encourages the husband and in-laws to
perpetrate violence. According to the social mores, a broken marriage is a
matter of shame as the bride's parents have spent a lot of money on the
marriage, they have a vested interest in seeing that a breakup does not occur.
Society considers the child of a broken marriage as a problem child. Also,
unlike men, who generally remarries after weeks of separation or the death of
his wife, a separated or widowed woman carries a stigma and is excluded from all
the activities of the family. She is considered a liability in most of the cases
since she lacks the educational qualifications to start an independent life.
Burnt, shamed, and taunted for no fault of theirs, acid attack survivors suffer
a great deal of pain and trauma in their life. A cold-hearted society and a
sluggish judicial system become the reason for it. In the years 2014-18, there
have been 1,483 victims of acid attacks in India. 2017 had the highest number of
acid attack victims in the last five years. Unfortunately, the legal process
shows a serious backlog for 2017-18.
When the data shows that only 149 people
were charge-sheeted in each year, almost 596 cases were reported in the year
2017-18. Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and New Delhi are systematically ranking
amongst the highest of the ten worst states in terms of acid attacks entirely
creating forty-two percent of the victims of acid attacks.
Ritu Saini is an acid attack survivor from Haryana. She suffered an acid attack
when she was 17 years old. She was attacked by two men on her way to volleyball
practice on the instruction of her cousin. The act was done by the 39-year-old
Ram Niwas Saini as a revenge crime. Ritu suffered 45% burns on her body and 90%
on her face.
She has undergone a total of 15 surgeries in the past 8 years.
Even though Haryana court sentenced him and three other accomplices to 10 years
of imprisonment, Ram Niwas came out of jail within 5 years after a High Court
Order. The fate of the guilty in the above-mentioned case is shared by most acid
attack cases. While the survivor is disfigured and blamed, the attacker roams
freely in society. This itself questions the enforceability of the existing
- About 1 in 5 women and nearly 1 in 7 men have experienced rape, assault,
or stalking by an intimate partner experienced it in between the ages of 11
- Among the women who survived rape, almost 35% were raped as minors
compared to 14% who did not have an early rape history.
- Most female victims of completed rape (79.6%) experienced their first
rape before the age of 25; 42.2% experienced their first completed rape
before the age of 18 years.
- Most victims of sexual assault or stalking by an intimate partner had
experienced sexual assault before the age of 25.
- 43% of dating college women report experiencing violent and abusive
dating behaviors including physical, sexual, tech, verbal or controlling
- Nearly 1 in 3 (29%) college women say they have been in an abusive
- 52% of college women report knowing a friend who has suffered from
violent dating behaviors like sexual, physical, verbal and controlling
- 1 in 6 (16%) college women has been sexually abused in a dating
- Victims of digital abuse and harassment are 2 times as likely to be
physically abused, 2.5 times as likely to be psychologically abused, and 5
times as likely to be sexually coerced.
- About 84% of victims are psychologically abused by their partners, half
are physically abused, and one-third experiences sexual coercion.
Rape has now become common all over the world. This is supposed to be alarming
because each female irrespective of their age is under the threat of rape. It
does not even matter whether it is in the street or in the workplace or at home.
It is grossly under-reported because of the stigma. Even when reported, the
wrongdoer is not apprehended; and if he is ever delivered to trial, tries are
created to label him by casting aspersions on the woman's ethical character.
The high-risk categories are young girls in squatter settlements. For preventing
rape, not just the laws should be amended, but society should be aware of the
trauma and pain undergone by the survivor. We should also teach the younger
generation that the perversions against women are not only wrong but also
punishable under the law.
One in five women were statistically calculated to be victims of revenge porn in
a survey conducted in 2016. A new survey taken in Australia, New Zealand, and
the UK showed that the statistics increased to one in three. The rates were
almost from 35-39%. Revenge Porn is usually circulated to intimidate, threaten,
or manipulate women as an act of revenge for incidents, mostly for breaking up a
Most of these explicit videos and photos are taken or
sent by the victim itself consensually during a private moment which is then
manipulated by the abuser for revenge. Even in such cases when the video or
picture is captured with the consent of the victim, it is spread without the
knowledge or consent of the victim which makes it a crime.
Official revenge porn statistics are not available in India, because the law
does not recognize it as a crime. However, there has been a 104 percent spike in
the volume of obscene content shared electronically between 2012 and 2014
alone. A 2010 cyber-crime report revealed that 35 percent of women report
their victimization. 18.3 percent of women were not even aware that they had
In a survey conducted, about three in four respondents had engaged in digital dating behaviors,
and nearly half said they had participated in voluntary sexual self-image behaviors
such as sharing photos
or videos. The percentage who reported abusive behaviors was nearly as
high which is alarming yet not shocking. Almost twenty-ninth of respondents
represented feeling pressured to share sexual pictures and thirty-ninth
aforesaid they had experienced image-based harassment.
When explicit content of a woman is leaked, it is the victim who is blamed and
slut-shamed whereas the abuser walks freely in society. The victim is shunned by
even her family and friends and is forced to commit suicide. Revenge porn can
only be prevented when society changes its perspective on women. Anything done
without the consent of a person should be a crime and the abuser should be
punished. And regarding the consensual acts, people should need to respect the
women. Because when we disrespect a woman for something she did on her own or
consensually, we are indirectly implying that women in our society do not have
the right to give consent to anything done to her body.
Legal Provisions For The Support Of Women
Violence against women will not change overnight. The government and the
judiciary have a lot to do with this. The recent set up National Commission on
Women can, if given enough powers and autonomy, go a long way in restoring
confidence in the State.
Here are some laws that every woman needs to know and can use to get help.
- The state shall not discriminate against any citizen of India on the
ground of sex [26
- The state is empowered to make any special provision for women.
The two sexes differ in the structure of body, in the functions, to be
performed by each, in the amount of physical strength, in the capacity for
long-continued labor, particularly when done standing, the influence of vigorous
health upon the future wellbeing of the race, the self-reliance which enables
one to assert full rights, and in the capacity to maintain the struggle for
subsistence. This difference justifies a the difference in legislation and
upholds that which is designed to compensate for some of the burdens which rest
- No citizen shall be discriminated against or be ineligible for any
employment or office under the state on the ground of sex.
- Traffic in human beings and forced labor are prohibited.
- The state to secure for men and women equally the right to an adequate
means of livelihood.
- The state to secure equal pay for equal work for both Indian men and
- The state is required to ensure that the health and strength of women
workers are not abused and that they are not forced by economic necessity to
enter avocations unsuited to their strength 
- The state shall make provision for securing just and humane conditions
of work and maternity relief.
- It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to renounce practices
derogatory to the dignity of women.
- Sections 354A, 354C, 354, and 509 of the Indian Penal Code, as well as
Sections 66E, 66C, 67 and 67A of the Information Technology Act for cases of
- S.499 of IPC for defamation.
The following various legislations contain several rights and safeguards for
- Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (2005) is comprehensive
legislation to protect women in India from all forms of domestic violence.
- Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act (1956) is the premier legislation for
prevention of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.
- Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act (1986) prohibits
indecent representation of women through advertisements or in publications,
writings, paintings, figures, or in any other manner.
- Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act (1987) provides for the more
effective prevention of the commission of Sati and its glorification on
- Dowry Prohibition Act (1961) prohibits the giving or taking of dowry at
or before or any time after the marriage from women.
- When the question is whether a person has committed the dowry death of a
woman and it is shown that soon before her death such woman had been
subjected by such person to cruelty or harassment for, or in connection with
any demand for dowry. The court shall presume that such person had caused
the dowry death.
- Maternity Benefits Act (1961) regulates the employment of women in
certain establishments for a certain period before and after childbirth and
provides for maternity benefits and certain other benefits.
- Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (1971) provides for the termination
of certain pregnancies by registered medical practitioners on humanitarian
and medical grounds.
- Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex
Selection) Act (1994) prohibits sex selection before or after conception and
prevents the misuse of pre-natal diagnostic techniques for sex determination
leading to female feticide.
- Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act (1939) grants a Muslim wife the
right to seek the dissolution of her marriage.
- Indian Penal Code (1860) contains provisions to protect Indian women
from dowry death, rape, kidnapping, cruelty, and other offenses.
- Code of Criminal Procedure (1973) has certain safeguards for women like
an obligation of a person to maintain his wife, arrest of a woman by female
police and so on.
- Legal Services Authorities Act (1987) provides for free legal services
to Indian women.
- Hindu Marriage Act (1955) introduced monogamy and allowed divorce on
certain specified grounds. It provided equal rights to Indian men and women
in respect to marriage and divorce.
- Hindu Succession Act (1956) recognizes the right of women to inherit
parental property equally with men.
- National Commission for Women Act (1990) provided for the establishment
of a National Commission for Women to study and monitor all matters relating
to the constitutional and legal rights and safeguards of women.
- Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal). Act (2013) provides protection to women from sexual harassment at
all workplaces both in the public and private sector, whether organized or
unorganized (Vishakha guidelines).
India was ‘the world's most dangerous country for women' in 2018. Preventing
violence against women requires a multi-pronged effort. It
requires raising the awareness of women regarding their rights, but more
importantly, providing a strong support system for women in distress. At
present, there are several women's organizations in large cities like Mumbai,
which provide temporary shelter, moral support, legal aid, assistance in getting
There are also traditional organizations that provide rescue
homes for women, but which usually do not emphasize economic self-reliance for
women. A trend has, however, started for running training programs, legal
literacy classes, etc. Such support centers are too few to handle a large number
of victimized women.
Women are not animals or objects who should be protected on a leash or taken
care of by men. They are intelligent and capable beings who should be given
equal opportunities. It is, hence, the responsibility of each one of us to
support women who are abandoned or in need and to actively ta ke part in
changing the perspective of society to have a healthy future for all.
- https://evaw-global database.unwomen.org/pt/countries/asia/india?formofviolence=b51b5bac425b470883736a3245b7cbe6
- Miya Yamanouchi, Embrace Your Sexual Self: A Practical Guide for Women
- Virginia Woolf
- Reports from National Crime Bureau of India
- Dowry Prohibition Act,1961
- S.304-B of the Indian Penal Code
- as per the data from the National Crime Records Bureau,
- The new international findings extend upon an
Australian survey conducted last year by the Australian Institute of
- Article 15 (1) of the Indian Constitution
- Article 15(3)
- Dr. M.C. Sharma v. The Panjab University & Others, AIR 1997 P&H 87
- Article 16(2)
- Article 23(1)
- Article 39(a) of the Indian Constitution.
- Article 39(d).
- Article 39(e)
- Article 42
- Article 51-A(e).
- Dowry Death and Evidence Act, 1872