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In today’s post, I will be sharing with you what powers the law gives to us women, so that if the situation ever arises, we know what our rights are and what powers the government has bestowed upon us.
We live in a country where women, in general, are not safe. There are shady and messed up people everywhere, who will worship goddesses on one hand and then wouldn’t bat an eye before harassing a women on the streets. It is because of this, our country has so many strict laws in force which are favored and centered towards women. However, just having laws in place is not enough rather, knowing what they are and being able to implement them is what’s more important.
In our country, there is only a fraction of the population who know what their rights are. Therefore, they continue to get harassed during their times of need and get the short end of the straw.
Right to Make Statements In Private
A women, who has been sexually assaulted on any degree, has the right to make her statement in private, in front of a judicial magistrate without being overheard by anyone else. She also has the right to make the statement in front of a female constable or officer, in private. This right has been granted under section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, and the police cannot deny her this nor can they make her give a statement in public. Also, if during the trial, if she is called as a witness to testify, then she can give her testimony in private as well. The laws gives you this right so that you do not feel ashamed or embarrassed to state truthfully what happened, and are able to give every piece of detail that would be needed in order to help further the investigation and your case.
Right to Confidentiality
Under no circumstance can the identity of a rape victim be made public, by the police or the media, by printing it in newspapers or by announcing it. Anyone found guilty of doing so will be punished under section 228A of the Indian Penal Code. The reason why this law was made is because our society has a habit of socially ostracizing and victimizing a woman who has been sexually assaulted or raped. Therefore, to not make things worse for them, it is the duty of the court to ensure that the identity of the victim remains unknown to the public and that even when the judgment is released, her name is not mentioned and she is referred to as the “victim”.
No Arrest After Sunset and Before Sunrise
The Supreme Court had made a ruling according to which no woman can be arrested after the sun has set and before it has arisen. Even if they are accompanied by a female constable, the police cannot arrest you at night, and in case the woman has committed a serious offence, then they must get it in writing from the magistrate as to why she needs to be arrested at night. There have been so many cases reported where the police have harassed women by arresting them at wee hours. Therefore this right gives you the power to be present in a police station only during the day time.
Rape Is a Crime And Not A Medical Condition
Whenever a person is sexually assaulted, they have the right to a doctor, under section 164A of Criminal Procedure code, who needs to administer to them a rape kit, which will basically take semen from the body for DNA evidence. Furthermore, it is not up to the doctor to decide if the rape has occurred or not, it is for the court to decide that because that is a legal conclusion. What the doctor needs to do here is tell if there is any evidence to show recent sexual activity, and that will be the extent of his testimony to the court.
Right to Maternity Benefits
A woman employee who has worked in an organization for a period of at least 80 days during the 12 months preceding the date of her expected delivery is entitled to receive maternity benefits, which includes maternity leave, nursing breaks, medical allowance, etc. The law further provides that women cannot be fired from their jobs because of their pregnancy. These rights are mandated by law and any employer not adhering to these opens themselves to lawsuits.
Right to Inherit The Ancestral Property
Under Hindu law, a person can have 2 kinds of property; ancestral and self-acquired. The former means property that has been passed down, undivided, by 3 generations of men in the family and the latter means property that a person has purchased on their own with their own money and not with the money of the family. According to the recent amendment made in the Hindu Succession Act, the ancestral property of the family will be inherited by the heirs of the family, irrespective of their gender. In the past, women were excluded from inheriting their family’s ancestral property, but with this new amendment made to the law, this no longer remains and they have an equal right to inherit a share in the property.
A Proper Complaint Cell for Workplace Harassment Issues
Given first by the Supreme Court as the “Vishaka guidelines” and then turned into a proper legislation, it is mandatory for every employer to create a working Sexual Harassment Complaints Committee in their organization, whether it is a private or a public organization. These committees are set up to handle sexual harassment at workplace cases, and it shall be headed by a woman and 50% of its members shall be women.
Post Complaints Via Email or Registered Post
This privilege is limited to women in Delhi, because it came out of the guidelines given by the Delhi Police. According to this if, for some reason, a woman can’t go to the police station, she can send a written complaint via email or registered post addressed to a senior police officer of the level of Deputy Commissioner or Commissioner of Police. The officer then directs the SHO (station house officer) of the police station, of the area where the incident occurred, to conduct proper verification of the complainant and lodge an FIR. The police can then come over to the residence of the victim to take her statement.
The law behind FIRs in general say that the FIR can be filed in that police station which has the territorial jurisdiction. Meaning, if a crime has occurred in area X, then the police station of area X will have the jurisdiction to take the FIR for that crime. However, the idea behind the Zero FIR is that a FIR can be filed in any police station i.e. irrespective of place of incident/jurisdiction, and the same can be later transferred to the appropriate Police Station. Sometimes, the police station under which the incident occurs refuses to register the victim’s complaint in order to keep clear of responsibility, and tries sending the victim to another police station. In such cases, she has the right to lodge an FIR at any police station in the city under the Zero FIR ruling.
So, there you have it. These are some of the female eccentric rights that our legislation and judiciary have granted to the female population of our country. Educate yourself about these, so that in the future if you are ever in a situation where you will need this knowledge, you wouldn’t falter.