“You can tell the condition of a nation by looking at the status of its women.” -Jawaharlal Nehru
Thomas Jefferson said, “The trouble seems to be that too many people think the law should be enforced and not enough think it should be observed.” This mentality has resulted in an increase of crime and in violations of human rights and at times even the survival of the nation is threatened. The victims of domestic violence are unable to the complaint because of some sociological and psychological factors. The criminal justice system in India due to lack of supporting evidence and defective procedures acts very slowly and also works ineffectively due to various structural limitations and hand. Women suffer from various domestic crimes and nowadays domestic crime has become a global phenomenon and it can be classified into two categories-
- Crime identified under the IPC the sections 372, 373, 375, 498-A, 376-A, 302/304B, 306-A, 398A,307,309 committed within a family.
- Crime identified under other local and special laws like offences under the Dowry Prohibition Act, Immoral Trafficking and other laws.
However, there is so far a lack of a clear definition of what constitutes domestic crimes. According to the National Crime Record Bureau, India, there is one dowry death in the country every 78 h, one act of sexual harassment every 59 min, one rape every 34 min, one act of torture every 12 min and almost one in every three married women experienced domestic violence. Due to Increase in violence criminal acts were needed to be amended in 1983 & 1986 various offences dealing with cruelty to wife’s dowry harassment and dowry death. The first amendment introduced a new Section 498 A in IPC it included physical and mental cruelty, denial of food, insistence on sexual conduct, confining her in the house and denying access to manage children will generally constitute mental torture. The Second amendment introduced new section 304 B in IPC to counter the menace of dowry death. Dowry death and the torture cases have a high level of incidence in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal and in Andhra Pradesh. Domestic violence is a largely reported crime in India and is even noticed by society. For this, there are some reasons for not reporting domestic violence in India. People consider it as a family matter. Victims are afraid that if they will report this matter to the police then there will be an embarrassment for their family in the society, Domestic violence in India is not reported because of conservative thinking i.e. “Pati hee Parameshvar hai (Husband is God).” Because of this ideology, women bear all the tortures. Women in India are considered inferior to men. And this is the reason why women are denied even basic rights like the right to education and even the basic health care services. This may also be subject to strict dress codes, the violation of which can result in severe corporal punishment. Discrimination against women is at such level that there is prenatal testing which in most cases leads to abortion of the female foetus. In Indian society, we see that family gives more preference to a male child as compared to a female child that leads to an increase in crime rate against a girl child. In our legal system, we often see that woman’s right are not given the same weightage as the rights of men or the rights of the affluent strata of society. According to a survey in America female’s salary at work is 75% as low as male’s salary.So we can see the gender difference at the international level also where women are working for the same hour and doing some work but they are paid less in comparison to a man. In the present scenario, we can see that America’s strategy towards women is changing while China and India have still those old conservative thoughts. We believe that women’s role is to serve and obey and man’s role is to lead. However, this thought creates a vast difference between the section of society and this mentality leads the nation to a downfall. It should be a worldwide thought that men and women should have equal opportunities and should be given equal rights. Long back ago, Charles Fourier stated that “The extension of women right is the basic principle of all social progress.”
UNITED NATION VIEW ON GENDER EQUALITY
The United Nations has been quite supportive of India towards achieving its goal on gender equality and therefore it has provided various tools to fight against domestic violence. Because of the guidelines provided by the government, there have been various changes in the society and with the help of government efforts, we are trying to establish a good connection between the government and people so that crimes against women be minimised. Former United Nation Secretary-General Kofi Annan stated that, “Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.” When a woman marries a male partner, she does not become the husband’s servant but becomes his equal partner. If a male is treated superior and is considered the head of a family, then female should also be treated like as a male member of a family and should be given the equal rights as it is given to the male member.
In the case of Vishaka others v. State of Rajasthan and others , it was held that sexual harassment of women at a workplace is a violation of Right to Equality and Right to life and liberty. The Constitution of India includes gender equality and prevention of sexual harassment or abuse. The word ‘gender equality’ includes Right to work with dignity and also means protection from sexual harassment at workplace. Article 14, 15, 19(1)g, 21, 42, 51A,51,and 253 of Constitution includes safeguards against sexual harassment. The Court had laid down 12 guidelines and directed strict compliance in all workplaces for enforcement of gender equality at the workplace until suitable legislation is enacted. Though today our judiciary may be imparting so-called ‘gender justice’ but it still lacks in ‘gender-sensitive approach.’ In the case of Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India, we have seen that the Honourable Supreme Court of India gave its verdict and stated that there should be gender equality in society. In Charukhurana and others v. Union of India and others, Honourable Court held that equal opportunities for women are essential for the attainment of equality. In Richa Mishra v. State of Chhattisgarh and others, Honourable Court held that there is a necessity of economic empowerment of women and policy action is necessary to achieve equality between genders. According to the Indian, Constitution women are legal citizens of a country and have equal rights as that of a man. In our society women are not accepted just like a man is accepted in society. Indian women suffer immensely because society is male-dominated. Constitution makers were aware of these things so they provided certain special rights in favour of women. The Constitution of India has done a magnificent job in ensuring gender justice in the supreme law of the country. The constitution of India prohibits all types of discrimination and inequality against women and lay carpet for securing the equal opportunity to women in all walks of life, including education, employment and so on. A few important provisions laid in favour of women- Article- 14 of Indian constitution ensure Right to Equality, Article- 15(1) prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, caste, race and place of birth. Article- 15(3) provide for affirmative and positive action in favour of women by empowering the state to make special provision for women. Article- 16 state equality of opportunity in matters of public employment. In DPSP Article- 38 according to this state to ensure a social order for the promotion of the welfare of the people. It is a fundamental duty of a person to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women.
Women should not be treated as an object but to be given due respect. Women must have full unimpeded access to the legal institutions of the country so that they can fight for their rights and obtain compensation or restoration where their rights are violated. When women will be treated with the real spirit of equality with men than our nation will be more progressive like that of the other nation and one day surely our nation will be great and great!! “Educate a girl child and she will Change the Nation.”
 Indira Sharma, Violence against women: Where are the solutions?, Indian Journal of Psychiatry. 2015 Apr-Jun; 57(2): 131–139. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4462781/
 Tejaswi Pandit, Cruelty to Women [S. 498-A IPC and allied sections], December 3, 2018, https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2018/12/03/law-for-laymen-section-498-a-ipc-and-allied-sections-cruelty-to-women
 Lin Taylor, One in five believe women inferior to men: report, Mar 7, 2017, https://www.livemint.com/Politics/H6X7chXXz4qB4RXoPwt15M/One-in-five-believe-women-inferior-to-men-report.html
 SONAM SHETH,SKYE GOULD, 5 charts show how much more men make than women, March 9,2017, https://www.businessinsider.in/politics/5-charts-show-how-much-more-men-make-than-women/articleshow/57545747.cm
 Vishaka others v. State of Rajasthan and others (1997) 6 SCC 241
 Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India (2018) 10 SCC 791
 Charukhurana and others v. Union of India and others (2015) 1 SCC 192
 Richa Mishra v. State of Chhattisgarh and others (2016) 4 SCC 179
This article is written by Rakesh Kumar, a student at Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow.
Also Read – Feminist Approach: A Jurisprudential Trend