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Published : February 18, 2011 | Author : srikrishna1
Category : Woman Issues | Total Views : 158719 | Rating :

Sri Krishna Kumar IVth Year BBA LLB Symbiosis Law School Pune

There is no doubt that we are in the midst of a great revolution in the history of women. The evidence is everywhere; the voice of women is increasingly heard in Parliament, courts and in the streets. While women in the West had to fight for over a century to get some of their basic rights, like the right to vote, the Constitution of India gave women equal rights with men from the beginning. Unfortunately, women in this country are mostly unaware of their rights because of illiteracy and the oppressive tradition. Names like Kalpana Chawla: The Indian born, who fought her way up into NASA and was the first women in space, and Indira Gandhi: The Iron Woman of India was the Prime Minister of the Nation, Beauty Queens like Aishwarya Rai and Susmita Sen, and Mother Teresa are not representative of the condition of Indian women.

Over 32000 murders, 19,000 rapes, 7500 dowry deaths and 36500 molestation cases are the violent crimes reported in India in 2006 against women. There are many instances of crime especially against women go unreported in India. These are figures released by the National Crime Records Bureau recently. While Madhya Pradesh is worst off among the states, the national capital New Delhi continues to hold on to its reputation of being the most unsafe city in India. Delhi takes the top slot for crimes ranging from murders and rapes to dowry deaths and abductions.

It reflects country's law and order situation when its capital is a cauldron of crime. Instead of leading the way in tackling crime, Delhi only seems to do worse year after year. For instance while the national crime rate declined negligibly by .02 % in 2006; Delhi's rate grew to 357.2more than double the national average of 167.7.

Women in India
There is no doubt that we are in the midst of a great revolution in the history of women. The evidence is everywhere; the voice of women is increasingly heard in Parliament, courts and in the streets. While women in the West had to fight for over a century to get some of their basic rights, like the right to vote, the Constitution of India gave women equal rights with men from the beginning. Unfortunately, women in this country are mostly unaware of their rights because of illiteracy and the oppressive tradition. Names like Kalpana Chawla: The Indian born, who fought her way up into NASA and was the first women in space, and Indira Gandhi: The Iron Woman of India was the Prime Minister of the Nation, Beauty Queens like Aishwarya Rai and Susmita Sen, and Mother Teresa are not representative of the condition of Indian women.

Women's Contribution to the Economy:
Although most women in India work and contribute to the economy in one form or another, much of their work is not documented or accounted for in official statistics. Women plow fields and harvest crops while working on farms, women weave and make handicrafts while working in household industries, women sell food and gather wood while working in the informal sector. Additionally, women are traditionally responsible for the daily household chores (e.g., cooking, fetching water, and looking after children). Since Indian culture hinders women's access to jobs in stores, factories and the public sector, the informal sector is particularly important for women. There are estimates that over 90 percent of workingwomen are involved in the informal sector.

The informal sector includes jobs such as domestic servant, small trader, artisan, or field labourer on a family farm. Most of these jobs are unskilled and low paying and do not provide benefits to the worker. More importantly, however, cultural practices vary from region to region. Though it is a broad generalization, North India tends to be more patriarchal and feudal than South India. Women in northern India have more restrictions placed on their behaviour, thereby restricting their access to work. Southern India tends to be more egalitarian, women have relatively more freedom, and women have a more prominent presence in society. Cultural restrictions however are changing, and women are freer to participate in the formal economy, though the shortage of jobs throughout the country contributes to low female employment. But in the recent years, conditions of working women in India have improved considerably. More and more women find themselves in positions of respect and prestige, more and more workplaces are now populated with women who work on equal terms as men. Working is no longer an adjustment, a mere necessity; but a means to self worth and growth.

Women have now not only found their place in work places but are also party to governance. In recent years there have been explicit moves to increase women's political participation. Women have been given representation in the Panchayati Raj system as a sign of political empowerment. There are many elected women representatives at the village council level. At the central and state levels too women are progressively making a difference. Today we have women Chief Ministers in five large states of India. The Women's reservation policy bill is slated to further strengthen political participation.

Constitutional Rights:
The Constitution of India guarantees equality of sexes and in fact grants special favours to women. These can be found in three articles of the Constitution. Article 14 says that the government shall not deny to any person equality before law or the equal protection of the laws. Article 15 declares that government shall not discriminate against any citizen on the ground of sex. Article 15(3) makes a special provision enabling the State to make affirmative discriminations in favour of women. Moreover, the government can pass special laws in favour of women. Article 16 guarantees that no citizen shall be discriminated against in matters of public employment on the grounds of sex. Article 42 directs the State to make provision for ensuring just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief. Above all, the Constitution imposes a fundamental duty on every citizen through Articles 15(A) (e) to renounce the practices derogatory to the dignity of women.

All these are fundamental rights. Therefore, a woman can go to the court if one is subjected to any discrimination. When we talk about constitutional rights of women in India, we mainly pertain to those areas where discrimination is done against women and special laws formulated to fight those bigotries. The most important issues stand as those pertaining to marriage, children, abortion, crimes against women, and inheritance.

Before modern Hindu laws were passed, child marriages were the norms, inter-caste marriages were banned, the girl became a part of the husband's family, and polygamy was common. In the 19th century, the British rulers passed several laws to protect customs and traditions while abolishing detestable practices like Sati. Some such revolutionary laws were Hindu Widows Remarriage Act 1865 and the BrahmoSamaj Marriage Act 1872, the forerunner of the present Special Marriage Act. In the beginning, the Act sets four essential conditions for a valid Hindu marriage. They are:

1. Monogamy
2. Sound mind
3. Marriageable age
4. The parties should not be too closely related

Polygamy was permitted among Hindus before the Act was passed in 1955. However, after the act was passed, any man marrying again while his wife is living will be punished with fine and imprisonment up to seven years. Formerly, child marriages were common. The Child Marriage Act of 1929 was not very effective as such marriages were continued to be performed. Now, however, the bridegroom must be 21 years old and the bride 18 years. However, there is a separate Muslim Code of Conduct, which allows polygamy of up to four wives as per Islamic laws.

A marriage may be invalid without the boy or the girl realizing it at the time of the wedding. A civil marriage would be void if four essential conditions are not complied with. These conditions are listed in the Special Marriage Act (Section 4), as enumerated below:

· If it is bigamy

· If either party was suffering from mental disorder

· If the boy has not completed 21 years and the girl 18 years

· The boy and the girl are too closely related, or in legal language, are "within degrees of prohibited relationship" unless custom governing at least one party permits the marriage between them. Prohibited relationships are listed in he Special Marriage Act.

· A fifth reason for invalidating a marriage is impotence of either party.

There are some grounds available to the wife only, both in Hindu and civil marriages. One such ground available exclusively to the wife is her husband's commission of rape, sodomy or bestiality. Under the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act 1956, a Hindu wife is entitled to be maintained by her husband. Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code also deals with maintenance of wife and children. If there is a decree of maintenance against the husband and the couple have been living apart for over one year, it would be a ground for the wife to seek dissolution of marriage. Here again the Muslim Personal Law has a different set of conditions for the annulment of an Islamic marriage.

The Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 says that any person who gives, takes, or abets the giving or taking of dowry shall be punished with imprisonment, which may extend to six months or with fine up to Rs. 5,000 or with both. Dowry that started off as a practice to give away presents to the departing daughter, usually some resources to begin her new married life, slowly assumed extraordinary proportions and turned into a social evil. Brides were expected to bring the "gifts" regardless of their personal willingness. The bride's family could no longer have an individual say; lists were prepared and sent to the girl's house before the final agreement between the two families. The condition being that the boy would marry the girl only if the demands were met. Such a custom is being practiced not only in India but also in other countries like Bangladesh and Nepal. The reason behind this custom is the poor economical condition of the people along with a lack of education; unawareness of legal rights among women and a general bias against the women.

Crimes like rape, kidnapping, eve teasing and indecent exposure can be grouped as crimes against women. Rape is the worst crime against women after murder and the maximum punishment under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) is life imprisonment. An abortion or miscarriage due to natural causes is not an offence. Therefore, the law does not deal with it. However, violent and forceful abortion is a crime. Sections 312 and 316 of the Indian Penal Code deal with abortion as crime. Section 313 deals with abortion without the consent of the woman. The punishment could even be life imprisonment.

The Hindu Succession Act gives male and female heirs almost equal right to inheritance. Section 14 says that any property possessed by a female Hindu shall be held by her as full owner and not as a limited owner.

There are a few laws which have been proved to be a boon to the women of India. Some of which includes the law relating to the abolition of ‘Sati’. Satīwas a religious funeral practice among some Hindu communities in which a recently widowed Hindu woman either voluntarily or by use of force and coercion would have immolated herself on her husband’s funeral pyre. The practice is rare and has been outlawed in India since 1829.

Four months after the RoopKanwar incident at Deorala, the focus of attention shifted to the need for central legislation to stamp out the oppressive practice of Sati. Two rallies in Delhi, Rajasthan women activists, MP's in the State and at the Centre all called for stringent legislation against Sati. By 1 October, the Rajasthan Legislature had already promulgated an ordinance against Sati which is now a State Act passed by assembly and upheld by the Rajasthan High Court. By the New Year, the Commission of Sati (Prevention), Act had passed through both houses with a minimum of debate or amendment.

Few notable Indian Women:

Arts and entertainment:
Singers and vocalists such as M.S. Subbulakshmi, Gangubai Hangal, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle, and actresses such as Aishwarya Rai, are widely revered in India. Anjolie Ela Menon is one of the famous painters.

Although the general sports scenario in India is not very good, some Indian women have made notable achievements in the field. Some of the famous female sportspersons in Indian include P. T. Usha, J. J. Shobha (athletics), Kunjarani Devi (weightlifting), Diana Edulji (cricket), Saina Nehwal (badminton) , Koneru Hampi (chess) and Sania Mirza (tennis). Karnam Malleswari (weightlifter), is the only Indian woman to have won an Olympic medal (Bronze medal in 2000).

Through the Panchayat Raj institutions, over a million women have actively entered political life in India. As per the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts, all local elected bodies reserve one-third of their seats for women. Although the percentages of women in various levels of political activity has risen considerably, women are still under-represented in governance and decisionmaking positions.

Many well known women writers are in Indian literature as poets and story writers. Sarojini Naidu, Kamala surayya, Shobha De, Arundhatiroy, Anita Desai are some of them. Sarojini Naidu is called the nightingale of India. Arundhati Roy was awarded the Booker Prize (Man Booker Prize) for her novel The God of Small things.

Crime Against Women
Over 32000 murders, 19,000 rapes, 7500 dowry deaths and 36500 molestation cases are the violent crimes reported in India in 2006 against women. There are many instances of crime especially against women go unreported in India. These are figures released by the National Crime Records Bureau recently. While Madhya Pradesh is worst off among the states, the national capital New Delhi continues to hold on to its reputation of being the most unsafe city in India. Delhi takes the top slot for crimes ranging from murders and rapes to dowry deaths and abductions.

Sexual Harassment:
Sexual harassment is intimidation, bullying or coercion of a sexual nature, or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favours. Sexual harassment in India is termed "Eve teasing" and is described as: unwelcome sexual gesture or behaviour whether directly or indirectly as sexually coloured remarks; physical contact and advances; showing pornography; a demand or request for sexual favours; any other unwelcome physical, verbal/non-verbal conduct being sexual in nature. The critical factor is the unwelcomeness of the behaviour, thereby making the impact of such actions on the recipient more relevant rather than intent of the perpetrator. According to India's constitution, sexual harassment infringes the fundamental right of a woman to gender equality under Article 14 of the Constitution of India and her right to life and live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution. Although there is no specific law against sexual harassment at workplace in India but many provisions in other legislations protect against sexual harassment at workplace, such as Section 354, IPC deals with “assault or criminal force to a woman with the intent to outrage her modesty, and Section 509, IPC deals with “word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman.

Evolution of sexual harassment law in other jurisdictions:
In India, the case of Vishaka vs. State of Rajasthan in 1997 has been credited with establishing sexual harassment as illegal.

Vishaka vs. State of Rajasthan (AIR 1997 SC 1997):
The litigation resulted from a brutal gang rape of a publicly employed social worker in a village in Rajasthan during the course of her employment. The petitioners bringing the action were various social activists and non-governmental organisations. The primary basis of bringing such an action to the Supreme Court in India was to find suitable methods for the realisation of the true concept of “gender equality” in the workplace for women. In turn, the prevention of sexual harassment of women would be addressed by applying the judicial process.

Under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution, an action was filed in order to establish the enforcement of the fundamental rights relating to the women in the workplace. In particular it sought to establish the enforcement of Articles 14, 15, 19(1) (g) and 21 of the Constitution of India and Articles 11 and 24 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Constitution of India:
Article 14 (the right to equality)
Article 15 (the right to non-discrimination)
Article 19(1)(g) (the right to practise one’s profession)
Article 21 (the right to life)

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW):
Article 11 ([State] takes all appropriate measures to eliminate discriminationagainst women in the field of employment)
Article 24 ([State shall] undertake to adopt all necessary measures at thenational level aimed at achieving the full realization)

In disposing of the writ petition with directions, it was held that:
“The fundamental right to carry on any occupation, trade or profession depends on the availability of a ‘safe’ working environment. The right to life means life with dignity. The primary responsibility for ensuring such safety and dignity through suitable legislation, and the creation of a mechanism for its enforcement, belongs to the legislature and the executive. When, however, instances of sexual harassment resulting in violations of Arts 14, 19 and 21 are brought under Art 32, effective redress requires that some guidelines for the protection of these rights should be laid down to fill the legislative vacuum.”

In light of these deliberations, the Court outlined guidelines which were to be observed in order to enforce the rights of gender equality and to prevent discrimination for women in the workplace.

These guidelines included the responsibility upon the employer to prevent or deter the commission of acts of sexual harassment and to apply the appropriate settlement and resolutions and a definition of sexual harassment which includes unwelcome sexually determined behaviour (whether directly or by implication) such as:
· physical contact and advances;
· a demand or request for sexual favours;
· sexually-coloured remarks;
· showing pornography;
· any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature.

Furthermore the guidelines set out that persons in charge of a workplace in the publicor private sector would be responsible for taking the appropriate steps to preventsexual harassment by taking the appropriate steps, including:

· The prohibition of sexual harassment should be published in the appropriate ways and providing the appropriate penalties against the offender;
· For private employees, the guidelines should be included in the relevant employment guidelines;
· Appropriate working conditions in order to provide environments for women that are not hostile in order to establish reasonable grounds for discrimination;
· The employer should ensure the protection of potential petitioners against victimisation or discrimination during potential proceedings;
· An appropriate complaints mechanism should be established in the work place with the appropriate redress mechanism;
· Where sexual harassment occurs as a result of an act or omission by any third party or outsider, the employer and person-in-charge will take all steps necessary and reasonable to assist the affected person in terms of support and preventive action.

Finally, the court stated that the guidelines are to be treated as a declaration of law in accordance with Article 141 of the Constitution until the enactment of appropriate legislation and that the guidelines do not prejudice any rights available under the Protection of Human Rights Act 1993.

A K.Chopra’s case, is the first case in which the Supreme Court applied the law laid down in Vishaka’s case5 and upheld the dismissal of a superior officer of the Delhi based Apparel Export Promotion Council who was found guilty of sexual harassment of a subordinate female employee at the place of work on the ground that it violated her fundamental right guaranteed by Article.21 of the Constitution.

Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010 approved by Cabinet:

The Union Cabinet approved the introduction of the Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010 in the Parliament to ensure a safe environment for women at work places, both in public and private sectors whether organised or unorganized. The measure will help in achieving gender empowerment and equality.

The proposed Bill, if enacted, will ensure that women are protected against sexual harassment at all the work places, be it in public or private. This will contribute to realisation of their right to gender equality, life and liberty and equality in working conditions everywhere. The sense of security at the workplace will improve women’s participation in work, resulting in their economic empowerment and inclusive growth.

Salient features of the Bill are as follows:
The Bill proposes a definition of sexual harassment, which is as laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan (1997). Additionally it recognises the promise or threat to a woman’s employment prospects or creation of hostile work environment as ‘sexual harassment’ at workplace and expressly seeks to prohibit such acts.

The Bill provides protection not only to women who are employed but also to any woman who enters the workplace as a client, customer, apprentice, and daily wageworker or in ad-hoc capacity. Students, research scholars in colleges/university and patients in hospitals have also been covered. Further, the Bill seeks to cover workplaces in the unorganised sectors.

The Bill provides for an effective complaints and redressal mechanism. Under the proposed Bill, every employer is required to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee. Since a large number of the establishments (41.2 million out of 41.83 million as per Economic Census, 2005) in our country have less than 10 workers for whom it may not be feasible to set up an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC), the Bill provides for setting up of Local Complaints Committee (LCC) to be constituted by the designated District Officer at the district or sub-district levels, depending upon the need. This twin mechanism would ensure that women in any workplace, irrespective of its size or nature, have access to a redressal mechanism. The LCCs will enquire into the complaints of sexual harassment and recommend action to the employer or District Officer.

Employers who fail to comply with the provisions of the proposed Bill will be punishable with a fine which may extend to ` 50,000.

Since there is a possibility that during the pendency of the enquiry the woman may be subject to threat and aggression, she has been given the option to seek interim relief in the form of transfer either of her own or the respondent or seek leave from work.

The Complaint Committees are required to complete the enquiry within 90 days and a period of 60 days has been given to the employer/District Officer for implementation of the recommendations of the Committee.

The Bill provides for safeguards in case of false or malicious complaint of sexual harassment. However, mere inability to substantiate the complaint or provide adequate proof would not make the complainant liable for punishment.

Implementation of the Bill will be the responsibility of the Central Government in case of its own undertakings/establishments and of the State Governments in respect of every workplace established, owned, controlled or wholly or substantially financed by it as well as of private sector establishments falling within their territory. Besides, the State and Central Governments will oversee implementation as the proposed Bill casts a duty on the Employers to include a Report on the number of cases filed and disposed of in their Annual Report. Organizations, which do not prepare Annual Reports, would forward this information to the District Officer.

Through this implementation mechanism, every employer has the primary duty to implement the provisions of law within his/her establishment while the State and Central Governments have been made responsible for overseeing and ensuring overall implementation of the law. The Governments will also be responsible for maintaining data on the implementation of the Law. In this manner, the proposed Bill will create an elaborate system of reporting and checks and balances, which will result in effective implementation of the Law.

Recent Cases on Sexual Harassment:
The judgement of the above mentioned case (Vishaka Vs. State of Rajasthan (AIR 1997 SC 1997)), is still referred by our H’ble courts to give judgement for recent cases. Following cases are few of the examples, where the judgement and guidelines placed in Vishakha’s Case is referred:

· Dr. Salma Khatoon vs. Secretary, Govt. of India, Department of Ayush and Ors. [MANU/DE/1468/2010]

The Court directed the respondents to appoint Secretary, Government of India, Department of Ayush as the Chairperson of reconstituted sexual harassment committee in the W.P.(C) No.9144 of 2009 Page 6 of 7 matter of complaint made by the petitioner. The said committee will consider the complaint of the petitioner in accordance with the guidelines and law laid down in the case of Vishakha (Supra). With these directions the petition is disposed of and the parties are left to bear their own costs. It is however, clarified that this will not be precedent and this Court has not decided whether the Tribunal will have jurisdiction under Section 14 of the Central Administrative Tribunal Act, 1985 in the matter of constitution of the Sexual Harassment Committee.

· University of Kerala vs. Council, Principals', Colleges, Kerala and Ors. [AIR2010SC2532]
It was in relation to ragging. After consideration of the reports, we direct that the Government in the States and the Union Territories and the University shall act in terms of the guidelines formulated by the Constituted Committee. The MCI, BCI in consultation with UGC shall frame the requisite regulations which shall be binding on the institutions. They shall be indicated to the students at the time of admission by appropriate provision in the prospectus issued for admission. The consequences which flow from not observing the guidelines shall also be indicated. Inquiries which are pending shall be completed and report shall be submitted before this Court.

A question raised was regarding giving opportunity to the offender before taking actions like expulsion etc. Delay in taking action in many cases would frustrate the need for taking urgent action. In such cases if the authorities are prima facie satisfied about the errant act of any student, they can in appropriate cases pending final decision, suspend the student from the institution and the hostel if any and give opportunity to him to have his say. Immediately, the police shall be informed and criminal law set into motion. If it comes to the notice of the university or controlling body that any educational institution is trying to shield the errant students, they shall be free to reduce the grants in aid and in serious cases deny grants in aids.

· Soran Singh v. State [MANU/DE/0607/2010]
Mamta was sexually harassed by Soran Singh, her father-in-law. Also Soran Singh and Mamta’s husband continuously harassed her for demand of dowry. Later on, she committed suicide. In this case thecourt held that Appellant Soran Singh shall suffer Rl for a period of 10 years for the offence punishable under Section 304B IPC and shall suffer imprisonment for a period of 3 years for the offence punishable under Section 498A IPC. Appellant Rakesh shall suffer Rl for a period of 7 years for the offence punishable under Section 304B IPC and shall suffer imprisonment for a period of 3 years for the offence punishable under Section 498A IPC. The sentences upon both the appellants shall run concurrently. The appellants shall be entitled to the benefit of Section 428 Cr.P.C.

· U.S. Verma, Principal and Delhi Public School Society vs. National Commission for Women and Ors. [163(2009)DLT557]

Two teachers, Jayashree Kannan and Shayista Raza, and a former receptionist ShirniKaul accused the principal of Delhi Public School, Faridabad, U.S. Verma, of vindictiveness because they spurned his sexual advances. The teachers, resigned and are accusing U.S. Verma of spreading canards against them and scuttling their job prospects.

"Initially when he patted my shoulder or put an arm around me I thought it was an appreciative gesture by a 63-year-old man," said Jayashree who joined DPS in 1995. "But I realized soon that his physical conduct was not decent and he openly started demanding sexual favours." It was the same with the other two and when the women complained they were allegedly victimized. Jayashree said her seniority was brought down, while Shayista's child was denied admission.

The Principal U.S.Verma counter-alleged these allegations as "false, baseless, fabricated and motivated by vested interestes," and said the charges had been levelled by the staff to hide their professional incompetence. An inquiry by the vice-president of DPS society had found prima facie evidence against Verma, but no action had been taken against him. The administration of the school has refused to set up a committee as per the apex court's guidelines. The National Commission for Women and IFHSA (Interventions for Support Healing and Awareness), a women's organization, have taken up the case as the apex body for the sexual harassment at the workplace.

Further, it has also been alleged that Supreme Court’s guidelines has not been adhered to , with regard to Vishakha v. State of Rajasthan . Hence, The administration is also alleged of protecting the accused.

The Delhi High Court in the case of JayshriKannan v. U.S.Verma and Ors ordered the Delhi Public School (DPS) Society to compensate three of its teachers, who had alleged sexual harassment by the principal of Faridabad branch of the school, to the tune Rs.2.5 lakh each.

Justice S. Ravindra Bhatt in his order asked DPS to pay Rs.2.5 lakh each to three of its teachers and Rs.1.5 lakh to another employee of the school who had accused the then school principal U.S. Verma of sexual harassment. The teachers were forced to resign from their positions following the allegation and harassment at the workplace.

The court asked the DPS Society to pay the compensation amount within four weeks. The case dates back to April 22, 1999, when four employees of DPS Faridabad accused the principal of sexual harassment and approached National Commission for Women (NCW) to intervene in the matter. the allegations of the school employees were true. According to the teachers, the school principal used to harass them even after they resigned from their jobs. The Principal also used his influence to harass the children of the teachers who used to study in the same school.

The DPS Society also constituted a committee following the 1997 Supreme Court guideline that clearly stated that a sexual harassment committee has to be constituted immediately. The DPS committee also found the allegations to be true.The teachers also alleged that Verma turned vindictive when they turned down his advances and issued those memos, stopped their confirmation, demoted them and insulted them openly.

In criminal law, rape is an assault by a person involving sexual intercourse with another person without that person's consent. Outside of law, the term is often used interchangeably with sexual assault, a closely related (but in most jurisdictions technically distinct) form of assault typically including rape and other forms of non-consensual sexual activity.

Rape is the fastest growing crime in the country today and as many as 18 women are assaulted in some form or the other every hour across India. Over the last few months cases of rapes and assault have made it to the headlines with alarming frequency. Mumbai watched with shame as an ugly mob attacked women on New Year's Eve. In Latur a 14 year old was raped and killed by four young men. In Konark four men were charged with dragging a woman out of a bus and gang raping her. It is an ordeal simply to file a police report and the investigations thereafter have been stories of apathy and downright humiliation meted out to the victims. Where convicted, punishments have ranged from capital punishments to a day in jail.

It reflects country's law and order situation when its capital is a cauldron of crime. Instead of leading the way in tackling crime, Delhi only seems to do worse year after year. For instance while the national crime rate declined negligibly by .02 % in 2006; Delhi's rate grew to 357.2more than double the national average of 167.7.

The Bandit Queen case (Bobby Art Int Vs. Om Pal Singh Hoon (1996) 4 SCC), which depicts the tragic story of a village girl. Phoolan Devi- who was exposed from an early age to the lust and brutality of some men. She was married to a man old enough to be her father. She was beaten and raped by him. She was later thrown out of the village- accused of luring boys of the upper caste. She was arrested by the police and subjected to indignation and humiliation. Was also kidnapped and raped by the leader of dacoits and later by the leader of a gang of Thakurs- who striped her naked and paraded her in front of the entire village. This is truly one story that shows the apathy of the existing society.

According to Section 375 of Indian Penal Code, a man is said to commit "rape" who, except in the case hereinafter excepted, has sexual intercourse with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the six following descriptions: -

First: - Against her will.
Secondly: -without her consent.
Thirdly: - With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested in fear of death or of hurt.
Fourthly: -With her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband, and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married.
Fifthly: - With her consent, when, at the time of giving such consent, by reason of unsoundness of mind or intoxication or the administration by him personally or through another of any stupefying or unwholesome substance, she is unable to understand the nature and consequences of that to which she gives consent.
Sixthly: - With or without her consent, when she is under sixteen years of age.

Explanation: - Penetration is sufficient to constitute the sexual intercourse necessary to the offence of rape.

Exception: -Sexual intercourse by a man with his wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.

Recently Government has increased the age limit of the marital rape law to 18 years.

Section 376 of IPC lays down the punishment for Rape.

Section 376(1) states that Whoever, except in the cases provided for by sub-section (2), commits rape shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may be for life or for a term which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine unless the woman raped is his own wife and is not under twelve years of age, in which cases, he shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years or with fine or with both:

Provided that the court may, for adequate and special reasons to be mentioned in the judgment, impose a sentence of imprisonment for a term of less than seven years.

Section 376(2) states that:

Whoever: -
a) Being a police officer commits rape-

i. Within the limits of the police station to which he is appointed; or
ii. In the premises of any station house whether or not situated in the police station to which he is appointed; or
iii. On a woman is his custody or in the custody of a police officer subordinate to him; or

b) Being a public servant, takes advantage of his official position and commits rape on a woman is custody as such public servant or in the custody of a public servant subordinate to him; or

c) Being on the management or on the staff of a jail, remand home or other place of custody established by or under any law for the time being in force or of a woman's or children's institution takes advantage of his official position and commits rape on any inmate of such jail, remand home, place or institution; or

d) Being on the management or on the staff of a hospital, takes advantage of his official position and commits rape on a woman in that hospital; or

e) Commits rape on a woman knowing her to be pregnant; or

f) Commits rape when she is under twelve years of age; or

g) Commits gang rape,

Shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than ten years but which may be for life and shall also be liable to fine:

Provided that the court may, for adequate and special reasons to be mentioned in the judgment, impose a sentence of imprisonment of either description for a term of less than ten years.

Landmark Judgments:
· Tukaram v. State of Maharashtra[AIR 1979 SC 185]
This case is popularly known as Mathura Rape Case. In this case, Mathura, an 18 year old Harijan girl was called to the police station on an abduction report filed by her brother at the police station – DesauiGanj in Maharashtra on 26th March, 1972. When they were about to leave the police station, Mathura was kept back at the police station in the late hours of the night by one of the constables, Ganpat, who was on duty. She was taken to a toilet and raped by Ganpat. Then another constable, Tukaram, molested and tried to rape her, but being too heavily drunk did not succeed. It was alleged that the two constables, while on duty, had bolted the doors of the police station from inside and plunged the place into darkness.

The court held that the victim’s failure to appeal to companions and her conduct is meekly following the constable and allowing him to have his way to the extent of satisfying his lust amounts to consent for the sexual intercourse. Hence, not amounting to rape.

The judgment of Supreme Court was widely criticized both inside and outside the Parliament as an extraordinary decision sacrificing human rights and a slander on women under the law and the Constitution.

Whereas, in State of Punjab Vs. Gurmit Singh[(1996) 2 SCC 384], the Supreme Court has advised the lower judiciary, that even if the victim girl is shown to be habituated to sex, the Court should not describe her to be of loose character.

The Supreme Court has in the case of State of Maharashtra Vs. Madhukar N. Mardikar [(1991) 1 SCC 57], held that "the unchastity of a woman does not make her open to any and every person to violate her person as and when he wishes. She is entitled to protect her person if there is an attempt to violate her person against her wish. She is equally entitled to the protection of law. Therefore merely because she is of easy virtue, her evidence cannot be thrown overboard."

In Chairman, Railway Board Vs. Chandrima Das [AIR 2000 SC 988], a practicing Advocate of the Calcutta High Court filed a petition under Article.226 of the Constitution of India against the various railway authorities of the eastern railway claiming compensation for the victim (Smt. HanufaKhatoon)- a Bangladesh national- who was raped at the Howrah Station, by the railway security men. The High Court awarded Rs.10 lacs as compensation.

An appeal was preferred and it was contended by the state that:

a) The railway was not liable to pay the compensation to the victim for she was a foreigner.

b) That the remedy for compensation lies in the domain of private law and not public law. i.e. that the victim should have approached the Civil Court for seeking damages; and should have not come to the High Court under Article 226.

The Supreme Court also held that the relief can be granted to the victim for two reasons- firstly, on the ground of domestic jurisprudence based on the Constitutional provisions; and secondly, on the ground of Human Rights Jurisprudence based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 which has international recognition as the ‘Moral Code of Conduct’- adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nation.

Recent Case Laws:
· Mohd. Umar v. State [MANU/DE/2974/2010]
The allegation against the appellant is that he had abducted the prosecutrix aged about 12 years daughter of Ameeruddin on 7th October, 2004 and had taken her to village Saifini, district Rampur, U.P. and had repeated sexual intercourse with her. It is alleged that the prosecutrix was enticed, kidnapped and abducted from the lawful custody of her parents. It is alleged that the prosecutrix knew the appellant, who use to work in a meat shop near her house. It is alleged that the prosecutrix had stayed with the appellant from 7th October, 2004 till the night intervening 27-28th October, 2004.

The court upheld and confirmed the judgment of the learned trial court convicting the appellant under Sections 363, 366 and 377 IPC. On the question of sentence also the court did not see any reason to interfere, keeping in view the age of the prosecutrix and the conduct of the appellant. The appellant at the time of offence himself was 40 years of age and was father of eight children. The eldest daughter of the appellant was 15-16 years of age. Appeal is accordingly dismissed.

· Pramod Kumar and Ors. Vs. State [MANU/DE/2596/2010]
In this case, the prosecutrix was gang raped by the TSR driver and three other persons behind the GokulPuri police station on the first floor of the house. Later she was thrown by them near a Gali. She reached home and informed about the incident to her husband. She was able to remember the name of the three accused person, as they were calling each other by their names. She was also able to identify the house in which she was raped. Next morning she along with her husband went to the place and identified one of the accused. The accused was beaten up and later taken to the police station. At police station the prosecutrix narrated the entire story as to how she was gang raped and gave names of three of the accused persons and handed over accused Raj Kumar, caught by her and her husband to police. However, the police was not in a mood to register a case of gang rape and spoil the record of police station. ASI Darshan Kumar was assigned the job of convincing the woman that it was not good for her to lodge an FIR. So, ASI Darshan Kumar told the prosecutrix that she was a family woman, if she got FIR lodged, next day her name would appear in the newspaper and she would get defamed in the society and neighbourhood. She will have to undergo medical examination and suffer more at the hands of society and relatives, so she should not insist for registration of FIR. ASI Darshan Kumar assured her that accused Raj Kumar would be arrested in some other case. The prosecutrix was hence sent back.ASI Darshan Kumar, as such, prepared a kalandra Under Section 107/151 Cr.P.C. and sent accused Raj Kumar to Special Executive Magistrate (SEM) Under Section 107/151 Cr.P.C. so that bond be got executed from him. Summons of 107/151 Cr.P.C. proceedings were sent by SEM to the complainant/prosecutrix i.e. victim in the case and she appeared before the SEM on 16th February, 2005. Before SEM, she narrated that she was gang raped by the accused persons. The SEM was shocked. He seemed to be a sensitive person and called for an explanation of the SHO [SEM in Delhi is normally an officer of the rank of Additional Commissioner of Police, an officer senior in rank than SHO]. He sent a copy of statement of victim as recorded by him to the concerned SHO and asked the SHO for MLC of the prosecutrix. He also asked the SHO to report his Action Taken within two days. He forwarded a copy of his order to Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) as well. However, the SHO was still not prepared to register an FIR, as a police station is normally considered by the SHO as his personal fiefdom and he considers himself to be the king of this kingdom. He still did not record the FIR and a reply was sent to the SEM that the woman had not complained of rape. Rather, it was stated that she was accompanied by her husband and her husband had also confirmed her statement. The woman seemed to have given a false statement before the SEM at somebody else's instance. When the matter again came up before the SEM on 2nd March, 2005, the SEM found that no explanation was sent to him by the SHO, so he sent a reminder to the SHO as to why no action has been taken. It is only after the reminder was sent by the SEM that on 2nd March, 2005, an FIR was registered in this case by recording a fresh statement of the victim.After registration of FIR, on such insistence, the investigation was done in this case and after completion of investigation, a challan was filed and accused persons were sent for facing trial.

The Hon’ble Court observed that there is no doubt that there is no medical evidence in this case to corroborate the oral testimony of the prosecutrix, but the valuable evidence was deliberately washed out by the police when police refused to register the FIR on the very morning on 20th January, 2005 and did not carry investigation.All scratches and minor injuries get healed in six weeks time. Since the woman was a married woman, there would have been no other evidence available. Being married, she was used to intercourse and the only evidence which should have been available would have been her resistance which police did not collect and preserve.

The Court had to be cautious at the time of convicting the accused for serious and heinous crime of gang rape since it involves imprisonment for a period of 10 years and the court must carefully consider the testimony of the victim, if the conviction is based on the sole testimony of the victim, but, in this case I have no doubt in my mind that the victim had truthfully testified in the Court and had not falsely implicated any of the accused persons. The victim from day one had been crying hoarse about her gang rape. She had been consistent in her statement before the SEM as well as before the Trial Court. No suggestion had been put to her that she or her husband inculcated any kind of enmity against the appellants. The prosecutrix had no motive to grind against the appellants. No suggestion was given to her that she, at any point of time, had tried to black-mail any of the accused persons or extended any threat to implicate them falsely or compromised her position.

Under these circumstances, the court considered that the Trial Court rightly convicted the accused persons on the basis of sole testimony of the prosecutrix.

· Mohsin vs. State of Delhi

Mohsin, the appellant, has been convicted under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

She was charged of raping a five year old girl in the bathroom.

Learned trial court awarded rigorous imprisonment for a period of ten years and also imposed fine of Rs.10,000/-, failing which the appellant shall undergo rigorous imprisonment for a further period of six months. The same is in accord with the provisions of Section 376 IPC as the age of the prosecutrix is less than 12 years. Looking at the nature of the offence, manner and method in which it was committed, there is no ground or reason to reduce or modify the sentence awarded. Appeal is accordingly dismissed.

· Suresh vs. State [MANU/DE/2408/2010]
In this case the accused was charged of raping a 1 and a half year old girl. One of the stand taken was that the accused was a juvenile. The learned Sessions Judge after considering the entire oral evidence and medical evidence had come to conclusion that it was a case of rape of one and a half year child at the hands of appellant. The medical evidence showed split laceration of vagina and the opinion of the doctor that this injury was caused due to penetration of fully erected penis and the oral testimony of witness leaves no doubt about commission of crime by the appellant.

Perusal of trial court record show that the case of the appellant was first sent to Juvenile Justice Court and that is how the appellant was granted bail in such a heinous crime within 15 days. It is only when the complainant made a complaint before the Chief Justice that the appellant was not a juvenile and an inquiry into his case was conducted and the case transferred to the Sessions Court. Even as per the appellant's own admission he was 16 years and 5 months of age at the time of commission of crime. As per the prevalent law, in 1986, a person below 16 years of age only was considered a juvenile and was to be tried before the Juvenile Court. It is only in 2000 that the new Juvenile Justice Act came into force and the age of the juvenile was increased from 16 to 18 years. A report to this effect sent by learned Additional Sessions Judge, Shahdara to the learned District & Sessions Judge is available on record. This matter was also brought before this Court vide the Criminal Misc Petition 1658 of 1988 for cancellation of bail of the appellant wherein this Court considered that the appellant was not a juvenile, below 16 years of age and he was not entitled to be tried before the Children Court.

The case of the appellant was proved at trial beyond reasonable doubt. The medical evidence and the oral evidence prove it beyond reasonable doubt that the appellant committed rape on a tender age girl of one and a half year. I find no force in this appeal. The appeal is hereby dismissed.

Impediments to Justice:
In the present circumstances when offences against women are on the rise- when young girls are raped by their doctors, by presidential guards in broad daylight, the definition of rape to be of any deterrence- falls extremely inadequate. It does not address forced penetration of objects and parts of the body into the vagina and anus; and forced oral or anal intercourse.

It also does not recognize other forms of sexual assaults- like protracted sexual assault by relatives, marital rape etc. as aggravated forms of rape. This causes grave injustice to many victims. In many cases of child rape, the child has been penetrated through fingers or by objects or been force to perform oral or anal sex; yet this is not considered rape by the Courts.

Adding to this is Section 155(4) of the Evidence Act, which allows the victim to be questioned of her past sexual history- which the defence uses to humiliate the victim in the Courtroom.

One of the major obstacles in delivering justice in rape cases is the poor quality of investigations. The reason behind this ranges from gender bias and corruption to the general inefficiency of the police. In many cases the police have even refused to lodge the FIR or have lodged incomplete FIR.

The victims are not taken for prompt medical examination, because in cases of rape, or attempt to rape- medical examination of the victim and of the accused soon after the incident often yields a wealth of corroborative evidence. Therefore, such an opportunity should not be lost by the police.

The manner in which some courts have interpreted the law or assessed the evidence has often proved to be an obstacle also. Inspite of Supreme Court judgments to the contrary, lower court judges often insist on evidence of physical resistance or marks of injuries to hold that a woman has not consented. A woman’s evidence without corroboration is not considered sufficient.

The long time that is taken to complete a rape trial often by allowing senseless adjournments; and the giving of evidence by the victim in the presence of the accused and the harsh cross examination in the Court are some other major obstacles.

As observed by Krishna Iyer, J. in Rafique’s case [1980 Cr.LJ 1344 SC]:

"When a woman is ravished, what is inflicted is not mere physical injury but the deep sense of some deathless shame… judicial response to Human Rights cannot be blunted by legal bigotry."

Therefore rape laws in order to be of great deterrence, must have a cooperative victim, professional investigation, diligent prosecution; and an expeditious trial. For otherwise it shall not be the law, that fails, but the applicants, the process and application.

Failure of law reflects the failure of the society to protect and serve humanity.

In view of the above, the Supreme Court has laid down the following guidelines for the trial of rape cases [Delhi Domestic Working Women’s Forum vs. UOI (1995) 1 SCC 14]:

1. The complaints of sexual assault cases should be provided with legal representation. Such a person should be well acquainted. The Advocates role should not merely be of explaining to the victim the nature of the proceedings, to prepare for the case and assist her, but to provide her with guidance as to how she might obtain help of a different nature from other agencies- for e.g. psychiatric consultation or medical assistance.

2. Legal assistance should be provided at the police Station, since the victim may be in a distressed state. Guidance and support of a lawyer at this stage would be of great help.

3. The police should be under a duty to inform the victim of her right to a counsel before being interrogated.

4. A list of lawyers willing to act in these cases should be kept at the police station.

5. Advocates shall be appointed by the Court on an application by the police at the earliest, but in order that the victim is not questioned without one, the Advocate shall be authorized to act at the police Station before leave of the Court is sought or obtained.

6. In all rape trials, anonymity of the victim must be maintained

7. It is necessary to setup Criminal Injuries Compensation Board with regard to the Directive Principles contained under Article. 38(1) of the Constitution of India. As some victims also incur Substantial losses.

8. Compensation for the victims shall be awarded by the Court on the conviction of the offender and by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board- whether or not a conviction has taken place. The Board will take into account pain, suffering, shock as well as loss of earnings due to pregnancy and child birth if this accrued as a result of rape.

The National Commission for Women is asked to frame schemes for compensation and rehabilitation to ensure justice to the victims of such crimes.

Domestic Violence:
“Bride tortured to death for dowry”, “School going kid succumbs to his injuries after beaten by father”, “A seventy year old man killed over property dispute”, “Harassment of men in Chandigarh…”

All these and what not, turn to any newspaper at random and you would find the reports of such kind of violence all over the country. These are all what we come to know through different forms of media. There are more such cases which go unreported every day. In fact, include the cases which we our self indulge in, or the ones which we witness in the neighbourhood but are hesitant in taking even a single step to reduce their occurrences.

Domestic Violence can be described as when one adult in a relationship misuses power to control another. It is the establishment of control and fear in a relationship through violence and other forms of abuse. The violence may involve physical abuse, sexual assault and threats. Sometimes it’s more subtle, like making someone feel worthless, not letting them have any money, or not allowing them to leave the home. Social isolation and emotional abuse can have long-lasting effects as well as physical violence.

Since times immemorial, domestic violence has been an intrinsic part of the society we are living in. The contributing factors could be the desire to gain control over another family member, the desire to exploit someone for personal benefits, the flare to be in a commanding position all the time showcasing one’s supremacy so on and so forth. On various occasions, psychological problems and social influence also add to the vehemence. The present essay deals with the various forms of domestic violence prevalent in India. Their causes of occurrence in households have been analyzed categorically. The variation in the intensity of the forms with change in the geographical location and culture has also been addressed. The aftereffects of different kinds of domestic violence and the possible remedies have been highlighted. Finally, a conclusion has been drawn after the complete analysis of the topic with the juxtaposition of facts and figures at hand.

Domestic Violence Against Women:
This form of domestic violence is most common of all. One of the reasons for it being so prevalent is the orthodox and idiotic mindset of the society that women are physically and emotionally weaker than the males. Though women today have proved themselves in almost every field of life affirming that they are no less than men, the reports of violence against them are much larger in number than against men. The possible reasons are many and are diversified over the length and breadth of the country. According to United Nation Population Fund Report, around two-third of married Indian women are victims of domestic violence and as many as 70 per cent of married women in India between the age of 15 and 49 are victims of beating, rape or forced sex. In India, more than 55 percent of the women suffer from domestic violence, especially in the states of Bihar, U.P., M.P. and other northern states.

The most common causes for women stalking and battering include dissatisfaction with the dowry and exploiting women for more of it, arguing with the partner, refusing to have sex with him, neglecting children, going out of home without telling the partner, not cooking properly or on time, indulging in extra marital affairs, not looking after in-laws etc. In some cases infertility in females also leads to their assault by the family members. The greed for dowry, desire for a male child and alcoholism of the spouse are major factors of domestic violence against women in rural areas. There have been gruesome reports of young bride being burnt alive or subjected to continuous harassment for not bringing home the amount of demanded dowry. Women in India also admit to hitting or beating because of their suspicion about the husband’s sexual involvement with other women. The Tandoor Murder Case of Naina Sahni in New Delhi in the year 1995 is one such dreadful incident of a woman being killed and then burnt in a Tandoor by his husband. This incidence was an outcome of suspicion of extra marital affairs of Naina Sahni which led to marital discord and domestic violence against her.

In urban areas there are many more factors which lead to differences in the beginning and later take the shape of domestic violence. These include – more income of a working woman than her partner, her absence in the house till late night, abusing and neglecting in-laws, being more forward socially etc. Working women are quite often subjected to assaults and coercion sex by employees of the organization. At times, it could be voluntary for a better pay and designation in the office.

Violence against young widows has also been on a rise in India. Most often they are cursed for their husband’s death and are deprived of proper food and clothing. They are not allowed or encouraged for remarriage in most of the homes, especially in rural areas. There have been cases of molestation and rape attempts of women by other family members in nuclear families or someone in the neighbourhood. At times, women are even sexually coerced by their partner themselves against their will. They are brutally beaten and tortured for not conceiving a male child. Incidents like, ripping off a woman’s womb for killing the female foetus when she disagrees for abortion have also come to light especially in rural areas. Female foeticide and female infanticide continue to be a rising concern.

Also as expressed by Rebecca J. Burns in the following lines, “When I am asked why a woman doesn’t leave abuser I say: Women stay because the fear of leaving is greater than the fear of staying. They will leave when the fear of staying is greater than the fear of leaving.” A common Indian house wife has a tendency to bear the harassment she is subjected to by her husband and the family. One reason could be to prevent the children from undergoing the hardships if she separates from the spouse. Also the traditional and orthodox mindset makes them bear the sufferings without any protest.

Other forms of physical abuse against women include slapping, punching, grabbing, burdening them with drudgery, public humiliation and the neglect of their health problems. Some of the other forms of psychological torment against them could be curtailment of their rights to self-expression and curbing the freedom to associate with the natal family and friends.

There are varied consequences of domestic violence depending on the victim, the age group, the intensity of the violence and frequency of the torment they are subjected to. Living under a constant fear, threat and humiliation are some of the feelings developed in the minds of the victims as a consequence of an atrocious violence. The consequences of the domestic violence in detail can be broadly categorised under – the Effect on the victim himself/herself and the family, Effect on the society and the Effect on nation’s growth and productivity.

Battered women have tendency to remain quiet, agonised and emotionally disturbed after the occurrence of the torment. A psychological set back and trauma because of domestic violence affects women’s productivity in all forms of life. The suicide case of such victimised women is also a deadly consequence and the number of such cases is increasing.

A working Indian woman may drop out from work place because of the ill-treatment at home or office, she may lose her inefficiency in work. Her health may deteriorate if she is not well physically and mentally. Some women leave their home immediately after first few atrocious attacks and try to become self-dependent. Their survival becomes difficult and painful when they have to work hard for earning two meals a day. Many such women come under rescue of women welfare organizations like Women Welfare Association of India, Affus Woman Welfare Association and Woman’s Emancipation and Development Trust. Some of them who leave their homes are forcefully involved in women trafficking and pornography. This results in acquiring a higher risk of becoming a drug addict and suffering from HIV/AIDS. Some of course do it by their choice.

One of the severe effects of domestic violence against women is its effect on her children. It is nature’s phenomenon that a child generally has a greater attachment towards the mother for she is the one who gives birth. As long as the violence subjected to the mother is hidden from the child, he/she may behave normally at home. The day when mother’s grief and suffering is revealed, a child may become upset about the happening deeply. Children may not even comprehend the severity of the problem. They may turn silent, reserved and express solace to the mother. When the violence against women is openly done in front of them since their childhood, it may have a deeper and gruesome impact in their mind set. They get used to such happenings at home, and have a tendency to reciprocate the same in their lives. It’s common in especially in rural homes in India which are victimised by the evil of domestic violence.

In cases of Intimate Partner Violence, violence against women leads them to maintain a distance from their partner. Their sexual life is affected adversely. Many of them file for divorce and seek separation which again affects the life of children. Some continue to be exploited in lack of proper awareness of human rights and laws of the constitution.

Laws against Domestic Violence:
In 1983, domestic violence was recognised as a specific criminal offence by the introduction of section 498-A into the Indian Penal Code. This section deals with cruelty by a husband or his family towards a married woman. Four types of cruelty are dealt with by this law:

· conduct that is likely to drive a woman to suicide,
· conduct which is likely to cause grave injury to the life, limb or health of the woman,
· harassment with the purpose of forcing the woman or her relatives to give some property, or
· harassment because the woman or her relatives is unable to yield to demands for more money or does not give some property.

The punishment is imprisonment for upto three years and a fine. The complaint against cruelty need not be lodged by the person herself. Any relative may also make the complaint on her behalf.

Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code covers dowry-related harassment. As with other provisions of criminal law, a woman can use the threat of going to court to deter this kind of harassment. The Indian Penal Code also addresses dowry deaths in section 304-B. If a woman dies of "unnatural causes" within seven years of marriage and has been harassed for dowry before her death, the Courts will assume that it is a case of dowry death. The husband or in-laws will then have to prove that their harassment was not the cause of her death. A dowry death is punishable by imprisonment of at least seven years. When filing an FIR ( First Hand Report), in a case where a woman is suspected to have been murdered after a history of torture due to dowry demands, the complaint should be filed under section 304-B rather than under section 306, which deals with abetment to suicide. Section 306 should be invoked when a woman commits suicide because of dowry-related harassment.

A woman can make her husband to execute a "bond to keep peace", or a "bond of good behaviour" through the Executive Magistrate who can order the husband to put a stop to domestic violence. The husband can also be asked to deposit securities (i.e. money or property) that will be forfeited if he continues to act violently.

· Kaveri vs. Neel Sagar and Anr
The relevant facts show that the petitioner had filed an application under Section 23 of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act seeking restraint order against the respondents and seeking direction to provide her residential accommodation and to pay sum of Rs. 15000/- pm as interim maintenance. The respondents in this case were mother and brothers of the petitioner. The petitioner is an employed woman, has been working with Indian Airlines in store department and living separately from her brothers and mother admittedly since 2002; although the respondents alleged that she was living separately since 1999. Both the Courts below had come to the conclusion that interim relief either of separate residence or claiming amount from brothers or mother could not be granted in her favour under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act since it was not the claim of the petitioner that she was not able to maintain herself rather she had claimed she had spent Rs. 1 lac in construction of first floor of the house where respondents No. 1 & 2 were residing. The Courts below came to the conclusion that petitioner being employed and living separate and being a major having her own independent source of income was not entitled to relief. The facts that the petitioner is employed and has been living separate and leading an independent life are undisputed facts. The court found no ground to interfere with the orders of the Courts below in petition under Article 227 of the Constitution of India.

· Pooja Saxena vs. State and Anr. [MANU/DE/2748/2010]
Facts relevant for the disposal of this petition are that the petitioner Pooja Saxena filed a complaint of dowry demand and harassment against her husband (respondent No. 2) with CAW Cell and on the basis of the said complaint, after preliminary inquiry and on the recommendation of the senior police officer, an FIR No. 232/2009 under Sections 498A/406/34 IPC was registered against respondent No. 2 Sameer Saxena and others at P.S. Roop Nagar.

Respondent No. 2 Sameer Saxena, as a counterblast to the aforesaid FIR, filed a petition under Section 156(3) Cr.P.C. seeking direction for registration of FIR under Section 3 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 against the petitioner and learned ACMM, vide order dated 10.03.2010 directed the SHO, P.S. Roop Nagar to register an FIR on the basis of the allegations made in the petition under Section 156(3) Cr.P.C. and investigate the matter in accordance with law.

Respondent No. 2 in his petition under Section 156(3) Cr.P.C. contended that the petitioner in her complaint to CAW Cell, which formed basis for registration of FIR No. 232/2009 under Sections 498A/406/34 IPC P.S. Roop Nagar, as well as in her petition Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act and in her petition under Section 12 of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 made categoric allegations that demand of dowry as a precondition to marriage was made by the husband and in-laws of the petitioner and pursuant to that demand huge dowry was given which, prima facie, amounts to admission of commission of an offence under Section 3 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 by the petitioner and her parents.

Thus, he has strongly urged for the quashing of the FIR No. 59/2010 registered pursuant to the impugned order dated 10.03.2010 of the learned ACMM. The court held that it is obvious that the petitioner and her parents were confronted with the unenviable situation either to concede to the demand or face the loss of honour of their family in the society, and if under that fear, the petitioner and her parents conceded to the demand for dowry, they cannot be faulted as they were victims of the circumstances. Given the aforesaid facts, Section 7(3) comes to the rescue of the petitioner and in terms of the aforesaid provision, she cannot be subjected to prosecution for the offence under Section 3 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.

The court found it difficult to sustain the impugned order dated 10.03.2010 of learned ACMM vide which he had directed registration of FIR against the petitioner herein ignoring the protection extended to the petitioner under Section 7(3) of the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961. Accordingly, the impugned order of learned ACMM and the FIR registered in furtherance of said order were quashed.

Female Foeticide:
Female foeticide is a heinous act and an indicator of violence against women. Women in India have suffered a lot and have swallowed innumerable atrocities for so many generations. Be it wife battering, rapes or dowry deaths, she has been suffering and subjected to discrimination. The homicide of women exists in various forms in the societies all over.

Female foeticide is one of the worst case scenarios which women expect in this country. Ironically some of the worst gender ratios, indicating gross violation of women’s rights, are found in South and East Asian countries such as India and China. It is because of this reason that the sex ratio of girls to boys in many parts of the country has dropped to less than 800:1,000. The United Nations has expressed serious concern about the trend.

The determination of the sex of the foetus by ultrasound scanning, amniocentesis, and in vitro fertilization has aggravated this situation. Although no moral or ethical principle supports such a procedure for gender identification.

The situation is further worsened by lack of awareness of women’s rights and by the indifferent attitude of governments and medical professionals. In India, the available legislation for prevention of sex determination needs strict implementation, alongside the launching of programmes aimed at altering attitudes, including those prevalent in the medical profession.

The private foetal sex determination clinics were first established in the states of Punjab, Haryana and Delhi. The practice of selective abortion became popular from the late 1970s. Surprisingly, the trend is far stronger in urban rather than rural areas, and among literate rather than illiterate women, exploding the myth that growing affluence and spread of basic education alone will result in the erosion of gender bias.

The need for a dowry for girl children, and the ability to demand a dowry for boys exerts considerable economic pressure on families to use any means to avoid having girls, who are seen as a liability. There are even posters in Bombay advertising sex-determination tests that read: “It is better to pay Rs.500 now than Rs.50,000 (in dowry) later!!!”

Women and Developments in Reproductive Technology Abortion was legalized in India in 1971 (Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act) to strengthen humanitarian values (pregnancy can be aborted if it is a result of sexual assault, contraceptive failure, if the baby would be severely handicapped, or if the mother is incapable of bearing a healthy child). Amniocentesis was introduced in 1975 to detect foetal abnormalities but it soon began to be used for determining the sex of the baby. Ultrasound scanning, being a non-invasive technique, quickly gained popularity from rich to the poorest. Both techniques are now being used for sex determination with the intention of abortion if the foetus turns out to be female.

Most of those in the medical profession are part of the same gender biased society. It is scarcely surprising that they are happy to fulfill the demands of prospective parents. Medical malpractice in this area is flourishing, and bans on gender selection, for example in Maharashtra, have had little effect.

Prenatal sex determination with the intention of preventing female births must be viewed as a manifestation of violence against women, a violation of their human rights. The pregnant woman, though often equally anxious to have a boy, is frequently pressurized to undergo such procedures. Many women suffer from psychological trauma as a result of forcibly undergoing repeated abortions. Moreover, demographers warn that in the next twenty years there will be a shortage of brides in the marriage market mainly because of the adverse juvenile sex ratio, combined with an overall decline in fertility.

Given the lower value placed on women in Indian society the impact on society should not be underestimated. The sharp rise in sex crimes in Delhi have been attributed to the unequal sex ratio. According to Chinese estimates, by 2020 there are likely to be 40 million unmarried young men, called guang guan, in China, because of the adverse sex ratio. A society then is prone to dangers like more women to be exploited as sex workers, increases in molestations and rapes.

The Government of India passed the Pre- conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act In 1994, with the aim of preventing female foeticide. It was later amended and replaced in 2002 by the Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act without properly implementation ever.

Contravening the provisions of the Act can lead to a fine of Rs 10,000 and up to three years imprisonment for a first offence, with greater fines and longer terms of imprisonment for repeat offenders.

The research done to assess the implementation of the 1994 Act in South Delhi revealed serious failures in management and implementation there was lack of commitment and motivation with widespread corruption and little knowledge in clinics of the provisions of the Act.

To prevent this practice in Indian society is a serious challenge. It must involve:

· Ensuring strict implementation of existing legislation.

· The advocacy of a scientific, rational, and humanist approach.

· The empowerment of women and a strengthening of womenâ??s rights through campaigning against practices such as dowry.

· Inculcating a strong ethical code of conduct among medical professionals, beginning with their training as undergraduates.

· Simple methods of complaint registration, accessible to the poorest and most vulnerable women.

· Wide publication in the media of the scale and seriousness of the practice.

· NGOs should take a key role in educating the public on this matter.

· Regular assessment of indicators of status of women in society, such as sex ratio, and female mortality, literacy, and economic participation.

It is now or never otherwise it will be too late for us, to erode the deep-seated attitudes and practices against women and girls in our country.

Abortion was punishable under Indian Penal Code but it was legalized with the passing of Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.This act along with its revised rules was envisaged as a mile stone in the modernization of Indian society through laws. Doctors are against the ban on amniocentesis because it will lead to an underground practice in the field.

Recent Case:
· Cehat v. Union of India and ors [AIR 2003 SC 3309]
In light of the alarming decline in sex ratios in the country to the disadvantage of women, this petition was filed seeking directions from the Supreme Court for the implementation of the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act which regulates the provision of pre-natal diagnostic technology. In this case the Court took on the unique role of actually monitoring the implementation of the law and issuing several beneficial directives over the course of 3 years during which the case was proceeding in court. This petition put the issue of sex selection and sex selective abortion on the national agenda and as a consequence there have been heightened activities on this issue by government and non-governmental agencies alike.

Trafficking is defined as a trade in something that should not be traded in for various social, economic or political reasons. Thus we have terms like drug trafficking, arms trafficking and human trafficking. The concept of human trafficking refers to the criminal practice of exploiting human beings by treating them like commodities for profit. Even after being trafficked victims are subjected to long term exploitation.

According to a recent survey women are bought and sold with impunity and trafficked at will to other countries from different parts of India. These girls and women are sourced from Dindigal, Madurai, Tiruchirapalli, and Chengalpattu in TamilNadu, Gaya, Kishanganj, Patna, Katihar, Purnea, Araria and Madhubani from Bihar, Murshidabad and 24 Parganas in West Bengal, Maharajgunj from UP, Dholpur, Alwar, Tonk from Rajasthan, Mangalore, and Gulbarga and Raichur from Karnataka. These women and girls are supplied to Thailand, Kenya, South Africa and Middle East countries like Bahrin, Dubai, Oman, Britain, South Korea and Philippines. They are forced to work as sex workers undergoing severe exploitation and abuse. These women are the most vulnerable group in contracting HIV infection. Due to unrelenting poverty and lack of unemployment opportunities there is an increase in the voluntary entry of women into sex work.

Trafficking both for commercial sexual exploitation and for non-sex based exploitation is a transnational and complex challenge as it is an organized criminal activity, an extreme form of human rights violation and an issue of economic empowerment and social justice. The trafficking of women and children causes untold miseries as it violates the rights and dignity of the individual in several ways. It violates the individual's rights to life, dignity, security, privacy, health, education and redressal of grievances.

Trafficking in India (as reported by different periodicals):
In India, Karnataka, Andha Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu are considered "high supply zones" for women in prostitution. Bijapur, Belgaum and Kolhapur are common districts from which women migrate to the big cities, as part of an organised trafficking network.

Districts bordering Maharashtra and Karnataka, known as the "devadasi belt," have trafficking structures operating at various levels. The women here are in prostitution either because their husbands deserted them, or they are trafficked through coercion and deception Many are devadasi dedicated into prostitution for the goddess Yellamma. In one Karnataka brothel, all 15 girls are devadasi.

Women and children from India are sent to nations of the Middle East daily. Girls in prostitution and domestic service in India, Pakistan and the Middle East are tortured, held in virtual imprisonment, sexually abused, and raped.

In Bombay, children as young as 9 are bought for up to 60,000 rupees, or US$2,000, at auctions where Arabs bid against Indian men who believe sleeping with a virgin cures gonorrhea and syphilis.

About 5,000-7,000 Nepalese girls are trafficked to India every day. 100,000-160,000 Nepalese girls are prostituted in brothels in India. About 45,000 Nepalese girls are in the brothels of Bombay and 40,000 in Calcutta.

Calcutta is one of the important transit points for the traffickers for Bombay and to Pakistan. 99% women are trafficked out of Bangladesh through land routes along the border areas of Bangladesh and India, such as Jessore, Satkhira, and Rajshahi.

70% of students surveyed at a wealthy high school seek a career in organized crime, citing their reasoning as "good money and good fun." (surveyed student)

Methods and strategies of prevention:

The UN's Protocol contains a number of provisions aimed at preventing trafficking. State parties are required to establish policies, programmes and other measures aimed at preventing trafficking and protecting trafficked persons from re-victimization. The existence of vulnerable situations of inequality and injustice coupled with the exploitation of the victim's circumstances by the traffickers and others cause untold harm to the trafficked victim who faces a multiplicity of rights violations. Therefore policies, programmes and strategies that address prevention have to be unique with a focus on and an orientation towards all these issues. Accordingly the prevention of trafficking needs to be addressed not only in relation to the source areas but also in the demand areas the transit points and the trafficking routes. Strategies in all these areas have to be oriented towards the specific characteristics of the situation and the target groups.

· The best method of prevention is its integration it with prosecution and protection. Prosecution includes several tasks like the identification of the traffickers bringing them to the book, confiscating their illegal assets. Protection of the trafficked victim includes all steps towards the redressal of their grievances thus helping the victim survive, rehabilitate and establish herself/himself. Thus prosecution and protection contribute to prevention.

· The strategies should address the issues of livelihood options and opportunities by focusing on efforts to eradicate poverty, illiteracy etc. There should be special packages for women and children in those communities where entry into CSE may be perceived as the only available option. Education and other services should be oriented towards capacity building and the consequent empowerment of vulnerable groups.

· Gender discrimination and patriarchal mindset are important constituents and catalysts of the vulnerability of women and girl children. This manifests itself in several serious violations of women's rights such as high incidence of female foeticide and infanticide and the discrimination against women in healthcare, education and employment. Since these are vulnerability factors that trigger trafficking prevention strategies need to be oriented accordingly.

· Natural calamities and manmade disturbances do exacerbate the vulnerability situation. Therefore relief and aftercare programmes need to have specific components focused on the rights of women and children.

· At the micro level the prevention of trafficking in the source areas requires a working partnership between the police and NGOs. Public awareness campaigns and community participation are key to prevention programmes. Prevention is best achieved by community policing.

· Political will is an essential requirement to combat trafficking.

· Creating legal awareness is one of the most important functions of any social action programme because without legal awareness it is not possible to promote any real social activism. Legal awareness empowers people by making them aware of their rights, and can work towards strengthening them to develop zero tolerance towards abuse and exploitation.

· Immigration officials at the borders need to be sensitized so that they can network with the police as well as with NGOs working on preventing trafficking.

Help lines and help booths are very important for providing timely help to any person in distress. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is considering collaboration between government agencies and NGOs for setting up help lines and help booths that can provide timely assistance to child victims. It will be appropriate if the Child lines all over India, NGOs working on child rights, missing person bureaus and police help lines are linked together as a formidable tool against trafficking.

· Fateh Chand v. State of Haryana [AIR 2009 SC 2729]

The prosecutrix Geeta was detained and forced to have sexual intercourse with the appellant and was later involved in flesh trade.

The Hon’ble High Court had dismissed the appeal against the judgment and order of Additional Sessions Judge, Faridabad dated 12.8.1988 and 16.8.1988 convicting and sentencing the appellant to undergo R.I. for seven years and to pay a fine of ` 500/-, or else to further undergo R.I. for six months, under Section 376 IPC and R.I. for five years and a fine of ` 500/-, or in default to further undergo R.I. for six months under Section 366 IPC. However, it was directed that both the substantive sentences of imprisonment shall run concurrently.

Supreme Court did not see any merit in the appeal and the same was, accordingly, dismissed. Appellant was on bail. His bail bonds and surety bonds was cancelled. He was to be taken into custody forthwith to undergo the remaining part of the sentence.

In response to the petition, the court issued in notices to the central and state governments to file replies to central government. The central Supervisory board, State Governments under the administrations. And to appoint appropriate authorities at district and sub-district level. Directions stated that the list of the members appointed should be published in the print and electronic media. Appropriate authorities were further directed to send a quarterly report to the central supervisory board. public awareness against the practice of pre-natal sex determination.

Supreme Court directed state governments to take further steps to enforce the law and the secretary. Department of family welfare was directed to file an affidavit indicating the status of actions taken. Supreme Court directed 9 companies to supply the information of the machines sold to various clinics in the last 5 years. Details of about 11,200 machines from all these companies and fed into a common data base. Addresses received from the manufacturers were also sent to concerned states and to launch prosecution against those bodies using ultrasound machines that had filed to get themselves registered under the act. The court directed that the ultrasound machines/scanners be sealed and seized if they were being used without registration. Three associations’ viz., The Indian Medical Association [IMA], Indian Radiologist Association [IRA], and the Federation of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Societies of India [FOGSI] were asked to furnish details of members using these machines. Since the supreme court directive 99 cases were registered and in 232 cases ultrasound machines, other equipment and records were seized Today there is an estimated 25000 ultrasound machines in the country, of these 15000 have been registered. State governments have communicated to the central government in writing the according to official reports received, they are satisfied that sex determination services are no longer being provided in their respective states.

Indecent Representation of Women:
Is the woman the target-audience a product/service is aimed at? In other words, is she the primary consumer of the product/service advertised? Or is she herself the product or service? This is the basic ambivalence that leads to the great, unending debate on the portrayal of women in advertising, mainly in the electronic media. We all know the stereotypes—the femme fatale, the super mom, the sex kitten, the nasty corporate climber. Whatever the role, television, film and popular magazines are full of images of women and girls who are typically white, desperately thin, and made up to the hilt—even after slaying a gang of vampires or dressing down a Greek legion.

Indian social reality is intermeshed with diverse cultures that are reflected in variant gender relations ranging from patriarchal forms to matriliny. The portrayal of this complex range of gender subjectivity can provide an appearance of media’s simultaneous sensitivity and bias on gender issues. The prevalence of gender discourse has ensured that the impact of gender differentiating structures in terms of atrocities such as sati, rape, female foeticide, denial of access to facilities and resources (credit, health care, property) and poor quality of participation in availed avenues is well reported. Such coverage is interspersed with images of typed male-female roles, beauty as an empowering product and female honor as the epitome of Indian culture. Moreover, the lack of formalized structure allows the media to selectively appropriate and represent gender issues contextually in conjunction with the dominant socio-political norms. Thus gender representation in the media is open to the influence of competing tendencies, be it the market, cultural capital, communalism, electoral politics or women’s empowerment articulations. The derogatory representation of women in the media is more a social, cultural and economic problem than purely a physical one. The subjection of woman to indecent representation is a global one. Moreover, the lack of formalized structure allows the media to selectively appropriate and represent gender issues contextually in conjunction with the dominant socio-political norms. Thus gender representation in the media is open to the influence of competing tendencies, be it the market, cultural capital, communalism, electoral politics or women’s empowerment articulations. The derogatory representation of women in the media is more a social, cultural and economic problem than purely a physical one.

The subjection of woman to indecent representation is a global one. Moreover, the lack of formalized structure allows the media to selectively appropriate and represent gender issues contextually in conjunction with the dominant socio-political norms. Thus gender representation in the media is open to the influence of competing tendencies, be it the market, cultural capital, communalism, electoral politics or women’s empowerment articulations. The derogatory representation of women in the media is more a social, cultural and economic problem than purely a physical one. The subjection of woman to indecent representation is a global one. The derogatory representation of women in the media is more a social, cultural and economic problem than purely a physical one. On screen, they simper and sob, plot and pamper, whine and weep. Whether in serials or in advertisements, the woman is the one that's exploited or waiting to be .The subjection of woman to indecent representation is a global one. But it is more the visual impact that is emphasised in Oriental cultures like India. The reason is simple. The Asian-Oriental woman's moral and social status is mainly determined on the basis of the degree of exposure of her physical form to public view. Some advertisements portray features of women as things that are separate and more important than the true image of a woman. They push perfection to a great extent that there seems to be no scope for inner beauty. Women advertising redefine women attractiveness as something that is away from natural. It is an unattainable ideal.

The model portrays a flawlessness in them that is an impossible perfection erodes self esteem of women. The advertisements that end a message across women that, only if they acquire beauty as depicted by advertising images can they attain happiness and bliss in life motivate these women to take extreme steps to achieve that appearance. They desire for these products and buy them. However they finally feel frustrated because these standards are rather unattainable. The advertisements thus make women believe in beauty myths, which are not practical and achievable in real life.

The mainstream channels on the other hand have women either warring with the mother-in-law or plotting to win someone's husband, or playing the cringing wife to the hilt.

According to Anupama Mandloi, Sony's on air programming director "That's not the kind of women you would find working behind the scenes in television. They're the kind of women who work far better as characters on television with their strengths, their values and so on. Very few working women are shown on television. Actually, the women on television and the women behind television are two different entities."

This, despite the fact that there is an army of creative young women working on scripts and sets of serials, apart from the production departments of channels. In the final analysis, it is the portrayal of women that appeals to audiences that dominates.

As Anita Kaul Basu, the brain behind Synergy Communications says, "It's a dearth of ideas. Either they go over the top, portraying women as archetypal vamps, or they are projected as docile doormats. There's no middle ground."

Tamara Nedungadi, who is directing the offbeat Kittie Party for Zee, says "It is a fact that all serials don't cater to all people. However, the only thing I object to is that women are never shown as taking a stance. They are never shown taking decisions. The decisions taken by them are usually determined by either her husband or in-laws."

Despite this, both shows and advertisements continue to be loaded in favour of men or showing indecent representation of women in Indian media scenario.

Impact of Advertisements:
Portrayal of women in media has a bearing on ‘shaping the social approaches and attitudes towards women’. Portrayal of women in media has a bearing on ‘shaping the social approaches and attitudes towards women’. Advertisements of Fair & Lovely which discriminates against the skin tone of women, ICICI advertisement which linked women’s protection to her marital status alone, LIC advertisement which talks about education for sons and marriage for daughters as if daughters don’t need education, etc were cited as warped portrayal of women.

A few years back, a huge hoarding of Tanishq Jewellery opposite Maurya Lok Complex, Patna beamed - ‘Buy 24 carat gold and let your daughter stay in peace at her "Sasuraal." The emphasis was on dowry system.

Various Women’s Organizations in Bihar at once took this into notice and the hoarding was ultimately removed. One shocking advertisement on the hoarding beamed: "Spend a few rupees today (ultrasound and abortion), save lakhs of rupees in dowry for the future;" thus projecting the female child as a burden. Even advertisements of beauty products make women feel inadequate. Women with disabilities are extremely critical of the way the ads are exploiting their vulnerabilities and limitations. "The scantily dressed model becomes the ideal dream woman for many young middle class girls. The beauty pageants mushrooming all over India create expectations from thousands of young women as to what should be the size and weight of an ultimate woman," says a woman activist. Women in sex roles as sati-savitri, vamps; men as breadwinner, decision-maker are more blatant. ‘Which man who really loves his wife can say no to Prestige Pressure Cooker?’, ‘beauty that promotes courage’ - Ponds Dream Flower talc ad.

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), a self-regulating body set up in 1980 by the advertising agencies, advertisers and the media, had formulated a code by which advertisers regulate themselves. It ensures the truthfulness and honesty of representations and claims made by the advertisements and checks that ads are not offensive. This code applies to advertisements in newspapers and magazines but also to ads appearing on Televisions, Radio and Cinema or on walls in forms of hoarding and posters. ‘Is it being applied’? There is only one answer - "NO".

Similarly the portrayal of women in other forms of media i.e. print media etc, in films, TV serials etc are also indecent, which do not need any explanation.

Recent Cases:
· M.F. Hussain vs. Ram Pandey And Khusboo V. Kannaiammal [Crl. Revision Petition No. 282/2007] [Del.HC]

The complainants accused Hussain of outraging religious sentiments, promoting enmity between different religious groups, selling obscene material and disturbing national integrity, thereby committing offences under several sections of the Indian Penal Code.

He has also been accused of commiting offences under Section 2 of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act on account of certain paintings of Hindu deities and mythological characters painted in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as the more recent painting of Bharat Mata allegedly depicting her in the nude.

In the February 6, 2006 issue, India Today, a national English weekly published an advertisement titled "Art For Mission Kashmir". This advertisement contains a painting of Bharatmata (Mother India) as a nude woman posed across a map of India with the names of Indian States on various parts of her body. The exhibition was organised by Nafisa Ali of Action India (NGO) and Apparao Art Gallery.

His painting of Bharat Mata had led to protests in various parts of the country by different political and religious groups including the Hindu Jan Jagruti Samiti, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Bharatiya Janata Party and the Bajrang Dal, which accused him of hurting Hindu religious sentiments. Hussain had already tendered an apology.

In July 2000, the apex court had ordered the transfer of similar cases filed against him in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Bihar to the court of an additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate in New Delhi and later the Delhi High Court quashed the complaints.

· Khushboo vs. Kannaiammal. Case [Arising Out Of Slp (Crl.) No. 4010 Of 2008] [Supreme Court]

The argument of the counsel was that the actress Khushboo’s comments allegedly endorsing pre-marital sex would adversely affect the minds of young people leading to decay in moral values and country's ethos. a special leave petition filed by noted South Indian actress Khusboo seeking to quash 22 criminal cases filed against her after she allegedly endorsed pre-marital sex in interviews to various magazines in 2005.

The Supreme Court of India in a significant remark on Tuesday, has said a man and woman living together without marriage cannot be construed as an offence.

"When two adult people want to live together what is the offence. Does it amount to an offence? Living together is not an offence. It cannot be an offence," a three judge bench of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, Deepak Verma and B S Chauhan observed.

The court made the observation while reserving its judgement on a special leave petiton filed by noted South Indian actress Khusboo seeking to quash 22 criminal cases filed against her after she allegedly endorsed pre-marital sex in interviews to various magazines in 2005.

Women and Violence (The UN way):
In a statement to the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in September 1995, the United Nations Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, said that violence against women is a universal problem that must be universally condemned. But he said that the problem continues to grow.

The Secretary-General noted that domestic violence alone is on the increase. Studies in 10 countries, he said, have found that between 17 per cent and 38 per cent of women have suffered physical assaults by a partner.

In the Platform for Action, the core document of the Beijing Conference, Governments declared that "violence against women constitutes a violation of basic human rights and is an obstacle to the achievement of the objectives of equality, development and peace".

The Work of the Special Rapporteur:
The issue of the advancement of women's rights has concerned the United Nations since the Organization's founding. Yet the alarming global dimensions of female-targeted violence were not explicitly acknowledged by the international community until December 1993, when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Until that point, most Governments tended to regard violence against women largely as a private matter between individuals, and not as a pervasive human rights problem requiring State intervention.

In view of the alarming growth in the number of cases of violence against women throughout the world, the Commission on Human Rights adopted resolution 1994/45 of 4 March 1994, in which it decided to appoint the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, including its causes and consequences.

As a result of these steps, the problem of violence against women has been drawing increasing political attention.

The Special Rapporteur has a mandate to collect and analyse comprehensive data and to recommend measures aimed at eliminating violence at the international, national and regional levels. The mandate is threefold:

· To collect information on violence against women and its causes and consequences from sources such as Governments, treaty bodies, specialized agencies and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and to respond effectively to such information;

· To recommend measures and ways and means, at the national, regional and international levels, to eliminate violence against women and its causes, and to remedy its consequences;

· To work closely with other special rapporteurs, special representatives, working groups and independent experts of the Commission on Human Rights.

Incest, Rape and Domestic Violence:
Some females fall prey to violence before they are born, when expectant parents abort their unborn daughters, hoping for sons instead. In other societies, girls are subjected to such traditional practices as circumcision, which leave them maimed and traumatized. In others, they are compelled to marry at an early age, before they are physically, mentally or emotionally mature.

Women are victims of incest, rape and domestic violence that often lead to trauma, physical handicap or death.

And rape is still being used as a weapon of war, a strategy used to subjugate and terrify entire communities. Soldiers deliberately impregnate women of different ethnic groups and abandon them when it is too late to get an abortion.

The Platform for Action adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women declared that rape in armed conflict is a war crime -- and could, under certain circumstances, be considered genocide.

Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali told the Beijing Conference that more women today were suffering directly from the effects of war and conflict than ever before in history.

"There is a deplorable trend towards the organized humiliation of women, including the crime of mass rape", the Secretary-General said. "We will press for international legal action against those who perpetrate organized violence against women in time of conflict."

A preliminary report in 1994 by the Special Rapporteur, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, focused on three areas of concern where women are particularly vulnerable: in the family (including domestic violence, traditional practices, infanticide); in the community (including rape, sexual assault, commercialized violence such as trafficking in women, labour exploitation, female migrant workers etc.); and by the State (including violence against women in detention as well as violence against women in situations of armed conflict and against refugee women).

In the Platform for Action adopted at the Beijing Conference, violence against women and the human rights of women are 2 of the 12 critical areas of concern identified as the main obstacles to the advancement of women.

Commitments by Governments:
Governments agreed to adopt and implement national legislation to end violence against women and to work actively to ratify all international agreements that relate to violence against women. They agreed that there should be shelters, legal aid and other services for girls and women at risk, and counselling and rehabilitation for perpetrators.

Governments also pledged to adopt appropriate measures in the field of education to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women. And the Platform called on media professionals to develop self-regulatory guidelines to address violent, degrading and pornographic materials while encouraging non-stereotyped, balanced and diverse images of women.

Defining Gender-based Abuse:
The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women is the first international human rights instrument to exclusively and explicitly address the issue of violence against women. It affirms that the phenomenon violates, impairs or nullifies women's human rights and their exercise of fundamental freedoms.

The Declaration provides a definition of gender-based abuse, calling it "any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life".

The definition is amplified in article 2 of the Declaration, which identifies three areas in which violence commonly takes place:

· Physical, sexual and psychological violence that occurs in the family, including battering; sexual abuse of female children in the household; dowry-related violence; marital rape; female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women; non-spousal violence; and violence related to exploitation;

· Physical, sexual and psychological violence that occurs within the general community, including rape; sexual abuse; sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere; trafficking in women; and forced prostitution;

· Physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs.

Groundwork Is Laid in Vienna:

The importance of the question of violence against women was emphasized over the last decade through the holding of several expert group meetings sponsored by the United Nations to draw attention to the extent and severity of the problem.

In September 1992, the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women established a special Working Group and gave it a mandate to draw up a draft declaration on violence against women.

The following year, the United Nations Commission for Human Rights, in resolution 1993/46 of 3 March, condemned all forms of violence and violations of human rights directed specifically against women.

The World Conference on Human Rights, held in Vienna in June 1993, laid extensive groundwork for eliminating violence against women. In the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, Governments declared that the United Nations system and Member States should work towards the elimination of violence against women in public and private life; of all forms of sexual harassment, exploitation and trafficking in women; of gender bias in the administration of justice; and of any conflicts arising between the rights of women and the harmful effects of certain traditional or customary practices, cultural prejudices and religious extremism.

The document also declared that "violations of the human rights of women in situations of armed conflicts are violations of the fundamental principles of international human rights and humanitarian law", and that all violations of this kind -- including murder, systematic rape, sexual slavery and forced pregnancy -- "require a particularly effective response".

Other Kinds of Violence Against Women:
Traditional practices:
In many countries, women fall victim to traditional practices that violate their human rights. The persistence of the problem has much to do with the fact that most of these physically and psychologically harmful customs are deeply rooted in the tradition and culture of society.

Female genital mutilation:
According to the World Health Organization, 85 million to 115 million girls and women in the population have undergone some form of female genital mutilation and suffer from its adverse health effects.

Every year an estimated 2 million young girls undergo this procedure. Most live in Africa and Asia -- but an increasing number can be found among immigrant and refugee families in Western Europe and North America. Indeed, the practice has been outlawed in some European countries.

In France, a Malian was convicted in a criminal court after his baby girl died of a female circumcision-related infection. The procedure had been performed on the infant at home.

In Canada, fear of being forced to undergo circumcision can be grounds for asylum. A Nigerian woman was granted refugee status since she felt that she might be persecuted in her home country because of her refusal to inflict genital mutilation on her baby daughter.

There is a growing consensus that the best way to eliminate these practices is through educational campaigns that emphasize their dangerous health consequences. Several Governments have been actively promoting such campaigns in their countries.

Son preference:
Son preference affects women in many countries, particularly in Asia. Its consequences can be anything from foetal or female infanticide to neglect of the girl child over her brother in terms of such essential needs as nutrition, basic health care and education.

In China and India, some women choose to terminate their pregnancies when expecting daughters but carry their pregnancies to term when expecting sons.

According to reports from India, genetic testing for sex selection has become a booming business, especially in the country's northern regions. Indian gender-detection clinics drew protests from women's groups after the appearance of advertisements suggesting that it was better to spend $38 now to terminate a female foetus than $3,800 later on her dowry.

A study of amniocentesis procedures conducted in a large Bombay hospital found that 95.5 per cent of foetuses identified as female were aborted, compared with a far smaller percentage of male foetuses.

The problem of son preference is present in many other countries as well. Asked how many children he had fathered, the former United States boxing champion Muhammad Ali told an interviewer: "One boy and seven mistakes."

Dowry-related violence and early marriage:
In some countries, weddings are preceded by the payment of an agreed-upon dowry by the bride's family. Failure to pay the dowry can lead to violence.

In Bangladesh, a bride whose dowry was deemed too small was disfigured after her husband threw acid on her face. In India, an average of five women a day are burned in dowry-related disputes -- and many more cases are never reported.

Early marriage, especially without the consent of the girl, is another form of human rights violation. Early marriage followed by multiple pregnancies can affect the health of women for life.

The report of the Special Rapporteur has documented the destructive effects of marriage of female children under 18 and has urged Governments to adopt relevant legislation.

Violence perpetrated or condoned by States:
Custodial violence against women:

Violence against women by the very people who are supposed to protect them -- members of the law enforcement and criminal justice systems -- is widespread.
Women are physically or verbally abused; they also suffer sexual and physical torture. According to Amnesty International, thousands of women held in custody are routinely raped in police detention centres worldwide. The report of the Special Rapporteur underlines the necessity for States to prosecute those accused of abusing women while in detention and to hold them accountable for their actions.

Violence against women in situations of armed conflict:
Rape has been widely used as a weapon of war whenever armed conflicts arise between different parties. It has been used all over the world: in Chiapas, Mexico, in Rwanda, in Kuwait, in Haiti, in Colombia.

Women and girl children are frequently victims of gang rape committed by soldiers from all sides of a conflict. Such acts are done mainly to trample the dignity of the victims. Rape has been used to reinforce the policy of ethnic cleansing in the war that has been tearing apart the former Yugoslavia.

The so-called "comfort women" -- young girls of colonized or occupied countries who became sexual slaves to Japanese soldiers during the Second World War -- have dramatized the problem in a historical context. Many of these women are now coming forward and demanding compensation for their suffering from Japanese authorities. "Such rape is the symbolic rape of the community, the destruction of the fundamental elements of a society and culture -- the ultimate humiliation of the male enemy", the report by the Special Rapporteur noted. It stressed the need to hold the perpetrators of such crimes fully accountable.

Violence against refugee and displaced women:
Women and children form the great majority of refugee populations all over the world and are especially vulnerable to violence and exploitation. In refugee camps, they are raped and abused by military and immigration personnel, bandit groups, male refugees and rival ethnic groups. They are also forced into prostitution.

In her report, the Special Rapporteur proposes the following measures to be taken for the protection of women and girls in refugee camps: improvement of security, deployment of trained female officers at all points of the refugees' journey, participation of women in organizational structures of the camps and prosecution of government and military personnel responsible for abuse against refugee women.

Legal steps to criminalize violence against women:
In recent years some countries have taken significant steps towards improving laws relating to violence against women. For example:

· In July 1991, Mexico revised its rape law in several important ways. A provision was eliminated that allowed a man who rapes a minor to avoid prosecution if he agrees to marry her. Now judges are required to hand down a decision regarding access to an abortion within five working days.

· On 9 June 1994, the Organization of American States adopted the Inter-American Convention to Prevent, Punish and Eradicate Violence against Women (also called Convention of Belém do Parà), a new international instrument that recognizes all gender-based violence as an abuse of human rights. This Convention provides an individual right of petition and a right for non-governmental organizations to lodge complaints with the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights.

· In Australia, a National Committee on Violence against Women was established to coordinate the development of policy, legislation and law enforcement at the national level as well as community education on violence against women.

· In 1991, the Government of Canada announced a new four-year Family Violence Initiative intended to mobilize community action, strengthen Canada's legal framework, establish services on Indian reserves and in Inuit communities, develop resources to help victims and stop offenders, and provide housing for abused women and children.

· In Turkey, a Ministry of State for Women was established whose main goals are, among others, to promote women's rights and strengthen their role in economic, social, political and cultural life. Legal measures are being adopted towards the elimination of violence against women. The establishment of special courts to deal with violence is envisaged. Psychological treatment for abused women is also planned, along with the establishment of women's shelters around the country. Specially trained female police officers could provide assistance to victims of violence.

· In Burkina Faso, a strong advertising campaign by the Government as well as television and radio programmes on the unhealthy practice of genital mutilation were launched to educate and raise public awareness about the dangerous consequences of such an "operation". A National Anti-Excision Committee was established in 1990 by the present head of State. Today, the practice of genital mutilation has been eliminated in some villages of Burkina Faso. In others, there has been an incredible drop in the number of girls excised: only 10 per cent of the girls are excised compared to 100 per cent 10 years ago.

· Some countries have introduced police units specially trained for dealing with spousal assault. In Brazil, specific police stations have been designated to deal with women's issues, including domestic violence. These police stations are staffed entirely by women.

Ensuring That Laws Are Obeyed:
These examples illustrate some steps taken at the national level towards the eradication of violence against women. Combating and eradicating this scourge require enhanced and concerted efforts to protect women at the local, national and international levels.

States have tended to adopt a passive attitude when confronted by cases of violations of women's rights by private actors. Most laws fail to protect victims or to punish perpetrators. Passing laws to criminalize violence against women is an important way to redefine the limits of acceptable behaviour.

States should ensure that national legislation, once adopted, does not go unenforced. State responsibility is clearly underlined in article 4 of the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, which stipulates that "States should exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and, in accordance with national legislation, punish acts of violence against women, whether those acts are perpetrated by the State or by private persons".

Any approach designed to combat violence must be twofold, addressing the root causes of the problem and treating its manifestations. Society at large, including judges and police officers, must be educated to change the social attitudes and beliefs that encourage male violence.

Challenging Traditional Attitudes:
The meaning of gender and sexuality and the balance of power between women and men at all levels of society must be reviewed. Combating violence against women requires challenging the way that gender roles and power relations are articulated in society. In many countries women have a low status. They are considered as inferior and there is a strong belief that men are superior to them and even own them.

Changing people's attitude and mentality towards women will take a long time -- at least a generation, many believe, and perhaps longer. Nevertheless, raising awareness of the issue of violence against women, and educating boys and men to view women as valuable partners in life, in the development of a society and in the attainment of peace are just as important as taking legal steps to protect women's human rights.

It is also important in order to prevent violence that non-violent means be used to resolve conflict between all members of society. Breaking the cycle of abuse will require concerted collaboration and action between governmental and non-governmental actors, including educators, health-care authorities, legislators, the judiciary and the mass media.

Impact of Crime against Women:
There are two realities which always stand behind the curtain, but it keeps the capability to affect the work of many people, working against these crimes. These people may include a judge, NGO person, doctor, psychiatrist etc.

Firstly, 50% women report sexual abuse in their childhood. And secondly, nobody does anything about it and just pushes the matter under the carpet. And it is obvious that we have to challenge these realities but first we have to recognise that the impact is not just physical (i.e. a broken hymen or a few scratches here and there), but the impact is on the very being of the person, on the mind. And this is much more important case to be taken care of, as it can ruin a life, if not taken care of or supported.

Mental health impact on women:
In this case we have to take two aspects into consideration.

Firstly, the assumptions that they carry within themselves about life. They feel that the world is not in their favour. They even generate a feeling within themselves that if they trust, they will be hurt and things are no more under their control. They carry these assumptions with them for the rest of their life with determines the way they think about themselves, their relationships and the way they think about their life.

This affects the court proceedings in a fatal manner. A person who feels that if she trusts she will be hurt, the world is unfair and she is no more able to trust anyone, not even the court proceedings, she will not be able to behave as a normal witness. And this will impede the judicial process.

Secondly, the affect in terms of psychiatric disorders. A recent research has revealed that about 75% of the people who go through sexual trauma are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. A person suffering from this disorder is very anxious, always sweating, got palpitation, is breathless etc. In short, these person can never be their normal self in any of the situation. These people go numb to their surroundings, get depressed. These people relive their experience whenever there is a trigger point. The trigger points may be smell or colour of a particular object, And day after day these points somehow gets linked with other objects and gets enlarged. These leads to their skills getting limited. And there are thousands of trigger points present in the court room itself (men would be one of them), which effects the witness and hence, the evidence. And many a times when they give evidence in such a situation, it may go against them.

Other people also get affected by sexual trauma. Both male and female child gets affected by sexual abuse, but only few of them reach the court.

Some Important Articles on Rape laws in India
# Sexual Harassment and Rape Laws in India
# Redefining the Rape Laws in India
# Rape Laws In India-Appropriate or not?
# A Woman Can't Rape Woman
# Rape law in India and World
# Change in definition of Rape in India
# Marital Rape versus Conjugal Right
# "Rape”-Texual or Psychological: The need to change Section 375 of the IPC, 1860
# Dying Declaration by Rape Victims
# Need on capital punishment in the context of rape
# Women and Violence
# Subjugation of women rights lead to violation of human rights
# Accomplice Evidence In Sexual Offences
# Eve teasing In India And Tortious Liabilities
Table of Cases
# Bandit Queen case (Bobby Art Int Vs. Om Pal Singh Hoon (1996) 4 SCC)
# Chairman, Railway Board vs. Chandrima Das [AIR 2000 SC 988]
# Cehat v. Union of India and ors [AIR 2003 SC 3309]
# Dr. Salma Khatoon vs. Secretary, Govt. of India, Department of Ayush and Ors. [MANU/DE/1468/2010]
# Delhi Domestic Working Women’s Forum vs. UOI (1995) 1 SCC 14
# Fateh Chand v. State of Haryana [AIR 2009 SC 2729]
# Kaveri vs. Neel Sagar and Anr. [MANU/DE/2821/2010]
# Khushboo vs. Kannaiammal. Case [Arising Out Of Slp (Crl.) No. 4010 Of 2008] [Supreme Court]
# M.F. Hussain vs. Ram Pandey And Khusboo V. Kannaiammal [Crl. Revision Petition No. 282/2007] [Del.HC]
# Mohd. Umar v. State [MANU/DE/2974/2010]
# Mohsin vs. State of Delhi [MANU/DE/2598/2010]
# Pooja Saxena vs. State and Anr. [MANU/DE/2748/2010]
# Pramod Kumar and Ors. Vs. State [MANU/DE/2596/2010]
# Rafique’s case [1980 Cr.LJ 1344 SC]
# Soran Singh v. State [MANU/DE/0607/2010]
# State of Maharashtra Vs. Madhukar N. Mardikar [(1991) 1 SCC 57]
# Suresh vs. State [MANU/DE/2408/2010]
# Tukaram v. State of Maharashtra[AIR 1979 SC 185]
# University of Kerala vs. Council, Principals', Colleges, Kerala and Ors. [AIR 2010 SC 2532]
# U.S. Verma, Principal and Delhi Public School Society vs. National Commission for Women and Ors. [163 (2009) DLT 557]
# Vishaka vs. State of Rajasthan (AIR 1997 SC 1997)

Authors contact info - articles The  author can be reached at: srikrishna1@legalserviceindia.com

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Article Comments

Posted by Gavin on July 07, 2016
Is it possible for a wife to file section 377 IPC in a zero Fir.
Please let me know.

Posted by Ria Khanna on February 09, 2015
As a girl I know how unsafe I feel today due to all these cases of violence against women. The attitude of society towards women must change. It is the collective responsibility of everyone to ensure that a woman can live in a safe and secure environment. A lot needs to be done in this regard to ensure the safety and security of women.
However, I have come across a great mobile application that is a great tool to help during an emergency. This app is called ICE Emergency app. I sincerely wish none of us ever have to use this app but it is better to be safe than sorry. It is a question of our life.
Here are some of the features of this app:
1) Quick way to ask for help using Call or Share your location by SMS.
2) Easy to find and Get direction to your nearest Police Station or Hospital.
3) Learn techniques/tips to be prepared to handle emergency situation before anything unexpected happens.
4) Emergency sounds that can help you in a crisis.

This app can be easily downloaded from Google play. Below is the link for that.


Posted by Debabrata Manas Kumar Manasingh on January 28, 2015
I am very much impressed to visit your site and informed about various laws.Thanks

Posted by Nishhant on March 18, 2012
what should be done about the girls misusing the laws which are made to protect them,specialy for married women who are using those for extroting money from their husband while filing wrong cases.

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