Women Issues



Are there any special provisions with regard to arrest, search, bail, and imprisonment etc for women under the law?



Yes. The CrPC and the Supreme Court in its various rulings has provided for special provisions with regards to women which are listed below :



Upholding the belief in the inalienable Human Rights of the individual and the Rule of Law



If a woman finds traumatic to report to a Police Station, she can directly report to a magistrate. ( Sec 156 (3) CrPC )



Females can be searched by only another female with strict regard to privacy and decency. ( Sec 51 CrPC )



Female suspects must be kept in a separate lock-up in the police station. They should not be kept where male suspects are detained. (S.C. judgement Sheela Barse v. State of Maharashtra)



When a female is arrested for a non-bailable offence, even if the offence is very serious (punishable even by death penalty), the court can release her on bail. (Sec.437, Cr. P.C )



In the Prison :



All female prisoners have to be imprisoned in a separate building or in separate part of the same building which is completely separate from the male prisoners



Under trials have to be segregated from convicts undergoing sentence



Adolescent female prisoners should be kept away from older women, whether habitual or not



Respectable prisoners have to be secluded from prostitutes.



A female prisoner cannot be handcuffed of put in fetters



No male unaccompanied by the Matron can enter the female enclosure.



Child birth in jail to be avoided or where unavoidable, midwife to be requisitioned.



My husband and my in laws keep torturing me for more dowry inspite of the fact that my father gave more than his capacity during marriage. Can police help me ?



Police can definitely help you. Under the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, giving, taking, giving, abetting of taking or giving, and even mere demanding dowry is a cognizable and non bailable offence with a punishment that various from 2 years to 5 years imprisonment and fine. A written complaint to the police will suffice.



My husband does not torture me for more dowry, but he still keeps beating me up for some reason or the other. Can police help me overcome domestic violence at home?



Definitely. Under section 498 A of the Indian penal Code, if the husband of a woman of the relative of husband subjects a woman to cruelty of any form, it is a cognizable and non bailable offence and if proved the accused could be punished for three years with fine.



What are the provisions with regard to Dowry death ?



Section 304 B of IPC deals with Dowry death. According to this, if a woman dies within 7 years of marriage in an unnatural way ( eg. Burning, drowning etc ), and if she has been subjected to cruelty / harassment just before death by her husband or his relatives in connection with dowry, then it is Dowry Death. Under 113 B of the Indian Evidence Act, if a woman dies within 7 years of marriage and if it is established that she was subjected to cruelty or harassment in connection with dowry, soon before her death by her husband or his relative, then it is binding on the Court to presume that such person has caused her dowry death. Thus, the burden of proof shifts on to the accused. The punishment for Dowry Death is a term for 7 years which may extend to life.



What is sexual harassment at work place ? What should I do if I need help in this regard ?



Sexual harassment is a widespread and everyday occurrence, though seldom recognized as such. Women victims are reluctant to even admit to this because of social stigma and ostracism, fear of reprisals. Men find the issue threatening and uncomfortable and either deny its existence or trivialise it.



Sexual Harassment includes unwelcome sexually determined behaviour such as :



Physical contact and advances;



Demand or request for sexual favours;



Sexually coloured remarks;



Showing pornography;



Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.



Apart from this, reasonable grounds must exist to believe that her objection to such advances would disadvantage her in connection with her employment or work and could result in a hostile work environment at the work place. There ought to be a threat that adverse consequences might be visited if victim does not consent.



After the Vishaka Vs State of Rajasthan Judgement, sexual harassment at work places has many remedies. The basic remedy lieswith the Police as the Indian Penal Code which specifically has provisions to handle sexual harassment as listed below :



IPC Sections 292 294: Obscenity



IPC Section 354: Criminal Force or Assault Intended to Outrage Modesty



IPC Section 375: Rape



IPC Section 509: Word, Gesture or Act Intended to Outrage Modesty



Vishaka requires that the employer must have a Complaints Mechanism with women members as the majority, including a member of an NGO or a similar body familiar with sexual harassment and headed by a woman member. It also requires that employer must give a police complaint where sexual harassment also amounts to an offence.



What are the obligations of the employer with regards to sexual harassment at work places ?



According to the Vishaka Guidelines, the employer has the following obligations:



He/ She needs to create an awareness about sexual harassment in various ways.



He / She needs to constitute a Complaints Mechanism headed by a woman, with majority woman members and a woman from NGO or some similar organization dealing with sexual harassment.



Certain safeguards need to be ensured to the woman approaching the Complaints Mechanism. This includes assistance of a special counselor to the woman, confidentiality, option to seek the transfer of her perpetrator or her own transfer etc.



Initiate disciplinary action against the perpetrators.



Must give a police complaint where such sexual harassment results into an offence.



I am subjected to eve teasing daily as I go to the college. Can Police help me ?



Certainly. You just have to inform the Police. The Indian Penal Code has a very specific provision to handle eve teasing under section 294 and 509. Under 294, whoever to the annoyance of others, does any obscene act in any public place or sings, recites or utters any obscene songs, ballad or words in or near any public place, is committing a cognizable offence which may result in imprisonment upto 3 months, or fine, or both. Under 509, whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any woman, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such object or gesture shall be seen, by such woman, or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman, is committing a cognizable offence which may result in imprisonment for one year, or fine, or both.


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