Women Rights in India
Women in India face a lot of social inequalities ranging from gender specific abortions, mistreatment by their spouses, to eve teasing. Most women aren’t aware of women rights in India and other times their legal rights are not protected as they should be. Women empowerment plays a significant role in letting them know their rights.
The following issues infringe on women rights:
This is the act of aborting female foetuses. This problem is linked to the dowry system whereby women are expected to pay dowry to the men in spite of the fact that it was prohibited in the year 1961. Unlike in western cultures, Indians have a strong inclination for sons over daughters. Pregnancies are planned using differential contraception. Foetal foeticide has led to social discrimination against women and they are treated as second-rate citizens. 80% of the districts in India have recorded a high male sex ratio with the state of Punjab recording the highest ratio.
An estimated ten million female foetuses have been aborted illegitimately in India. The social impact of these abortions is an increase in human trafficking. Trafficking is rampant in areas where the numbers of women are low due to female foeticide. To curb this problem, the Indian government should take strict actions against those who practice it.
Eve teasing is a euphemism for sexual harassment of females by males in public areas. This aggression differs in severity from mild brushing and taunts to the more serious groping in public areas. Some human rights organizations have been at the forefront lobbying against the use of this term. They argue that the term makes a serious infringement on women rights to appear innocuous. The challenge that faces victims of eve teasing is how to prove that a total stranger has sexually harassed them. It is becoming increasingly difficult to prove such crimes because offenders have found clever ways of harassing women.
There are many tourist guide books that warn foreign women to avoid attracting attention from perpetrators of these crimes by dressing conservatively. However, both tourists and Indian women are harassed regardless of what they are wearing. The number of women’s organizations working for women rights in India has gone up. Victims of this crime can seek recourse in court. Perpetrators of these crimes are punished by imprisonment, fines or both.
This is a type of domestic violence whereby a bride is killed by her husband or husband’s family because of dowry dissatisfaction issues. Kerosene is the fuel of choice for most perpetrators. This crime has been a problem since the year 1993. Perpetrators of this crime are punished accordingly by either giving them a death sentence or a life sentence. 2,500 deaths per year in India are attributed to bride burning. There have been several attempts by the government to combat this crime. They include:
1961 – The government passed a dowry prohibition act to cease dowry murders. The act was amended in the early 1980’s to correct some inherent flaws and loopholes. After the amendment, bride burning within the first 7 years of marriage became a crime. Unfortunately, the definition of dowry is still vague and this only changed the way dowry is asked for and delivered. Another shortcoming of this act is the inclusion of a seven year clause which makes it easy for perpetrators because they wait until the period lapses.
1983 – The anti cruelty statute forbids cruelty towards wives and subjects the perpetrators of such crimes to imprisonment and/or fines. However, this law is somewhat ambiguous and this leads to insufficient enforcement of bride burning murders.
This problem can be alleviated by allowing women to have properties. This way, women would not need to marry for economic, legal or social reasons. As a result, the dowry practice would be disregarded.
In India, the dowry prohibition act which was enacted in 1961 outlaws the giving or receiving of dowry. However, giving and receiving of dowry is still practiced to date. Women are faced with the pressure of giving dowry to the bridegroom’s family. This is a violation of the women rights in India because it gives them financial burdens. The dowry is considered as a bribe to the man so that he can agree to keep the woman, especially if she is too old to be unmarried. Dowry can be anything from cash to gifts. The gifts include:
- Motor Vehicle
Dowry is not only given before the wedding but the husband’s family expects to be given gifts and/or cash even after the wedding. This places a heavy financial strain on the bride’s family. If the husband and his family are dissatisfied with the dowry, they can mistreat the wife. The dowry system in India is the root of many problems against women such as bride burning and female foeticide. If strict measures are put in place to combat the dowry system, a lot of problems that face women can be eliminated.
This is among the most common crimes against women in India. Marital rape was made illegal in 1983 but it is still rampant. Rape is a heinous crime against humanity and it seriously undermines women rights. Rape in India is a crime that occurs every 54 minutes and it violates a woman and her privacy. The rape cases in India are constantly making headlines because of the brutality with which they are executed. In December 2012, a 23 year-old girl was gang raped in a public bus. The rapists penetrated her with a metallic rod and this destroyed her intestines which had to be removed through surgery.
There have been scores of other rape incidents in India. In most of these rape cases, the law fails the victim because of vague interpretations and this is absolute disrespect of women rights in India. Delays and humiliating cross examination of victims makes them afraid to come forward. As a result, many cases of rape go unreported. To curb rape cases, awareness campaigns need to be done. Men should also learn the importance of respecting women rights. Women need to be taught self defense mechanisms so that they can protect themselves.