Do you know your rights?
Do all women have access to their rights in India? Veena, a senior advocate from Chandigarh, says: “It is difficult for most women to learn and demand what is rightfully theirs.The Constitution and a variety of laws guarantee right to equality, right to life, right to employment, right to a violence-free life but women are not yet equipped to be independent and in control.”
Activists agree that it is seldom easy for a woman to file a complaint. When she files a complaint with the police or court against her husband, she has to be prepared to be served with a divorce petition. While the case continues to collect dust under the ‘Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005’, the real victims of domestic violence end up losing precious time, money and emotional energy fighting, just to hold their heads above the water.
With cases of s*xual harassment at the workplace, women are afraid to approach a senior for help for fear of a bad reputation, etc.
Young girls from backward districts in India are often moved from state to state as domestic help. Despite child labour being listed under the Indian Penal Code as a crime, does it stop the abuse?
The Immoral Traffic Act says only a brothel owner or a person living on the wages of a s*x worker can be prosecuted, but we find there are scores of women s*x workers being arrested.
Despite having the Dowry Prohibition Act, women report that ‘Streedhan’ is never in their possession.
Anna T, a software professional involved in Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, says that women only seek the help of the judicial system when left with no choice. Highly qualified women employees in the IT industry put off motherhood for fear of receiving the pink slip. Does this mean that women must give up their statutory rights? “No,” says Haseena, an acid victim who got justice after a long legal battle, “the fight for rights must go on.”