Women Safety Issues – Marital Rape, Domestic Violence, Swadhar, Nirbhaya Fund, etc.

Jul, 31, 2018

LS passes Bill on rape of girls

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018, POCSO Act

Mains level: Increasing incidents of child/women rape in India and its impact on India’s image globally


News

Amendments to POCSO Act

  1. The Lok Sabha has passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018, that provides for the death sentence for raping a girl under 12 years and enhances the minimum punishment for rape of a woman from seven to 10 years
  2. It amends the IPC, CrPC, Indian Evidence Act and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act

Provisions in the bill

  1. The minimum punishment for the rape of a girl under 12 will be 20 years of rigorous imprisonment, the maximum being the death sentence or life imprisonment
  2. For gang-rape of a girl below 12, the punishment will be life imprisonment or death
  3. The minimum punishment for rape of a girl under 16 will be 20 years of rigorous imprisonment, extendable to life imprisonment
  4. In the case of gang-rape of a girl below 16, the punishment will be life imprisonment
  5. The minimum punishment under the Bill for the rape of a woman over 16 is 10 years, extendable to life (under Section 376, IPC)
  6. The Bill also provides for investigation of rape cases within two months from the registration of an FIR
  7. There was no longer any provision for anticipatory bail in the case of rape of a girl below 16
  8. The government would set up fast track, special courts for rape cases

Character not to be judged

  1. The “character” of the victim would not be relevant to the question of consent
  2. No lawyer will be allowed to examine the “character” or past episodes of the victim
Jul, 19, 2018

[op-ed snap] On crime against women, bad questions, poor answers

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Issues related to women safety and how to ensure a equitable treatment for them


Context

Rising crimes against women

  1. Recently, the Thomson Reuters Foundation put out the results of its 2018 The World’s Most Dangerous Countries for Women survey
  2. India, fourth most dangerous in 2011, was now the world’s most dangerous, it said
  3. The questions of the survey centred on five key areas:
  • Healthcare,
  • economic resources and discrimination,
  • customary practices,
  • sexual violence and harassment,
  • non-sexual violence and human trafficking

Impact of Nirbhaya incident

  1. In December 2012, a student was gang-raped in a Delhi bus and left to die, an act of such horrific brutality that it became a watershed moment for women’s rights
  2. That December changed the conversation around the place of women in India
  3. Public displays of misogyny and sexism have not abated but public disapproval of it is now far stronger
  4. Discussions around women’s autonomy — to work, to love, in dress — rage on in living rooms

Data on crimes related to women

  1. India’s use and misunderstanding of data on sexual crime has not evolved
  2. Official statistics do not capture the full extent of sexual crime in India
  3. There is the part that official data is not capturing, and the part that it is erroneously capturing
  4. Non-capture of data is due to the fact that in a deeply patriarchal and often violent country, women might fear speaking out about sexual crime, and also fear to report it to the police

False cases

  1. Majority of rape cases were that of involving consensual sex between sometimes inter-religious or inter-caste couples
  2. The matches were set by the couples themselves often to their families’ disapproval
  3. In case after case, adult couples had been detained by a cooperative, often paternalistic police force, after the woman’s father or uncle filed rape charges against her lover or chosen husband
  4. This and the enduring issue of some men being charged with rape after a “breach of promise to marry”, yet another example of the price on a woman’s “chastity” — have had the opposite effect of under-reporting

Way Forward

  1. False cases have inflated the number of rape cases to an unspecifiable extent
  2. If there is some “over-reporting” of rape in India, it stems from the deep discomfort the country continues to have over women’s sexual autonomy
  3. The question to ask is not whether India’s women are safe. It is whether India’s women are free
Jun, 27, 2018

Global poll says India most dangerous country for women

Students of University of Mysore staging a protest against violence against women recently.

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Perception of India in terms of women safety among global community and how lax implementation of women safety laws has affected entire society


News

India most dangerous for women

  1. India has been ranked as the most dangerous country out of the world’s 10 worst countries for women, behind Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia
  2. This is as per a poll conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation
  3. The same poll conducted in 2011 had placed India at the fourth place

About the poll

  1. The findings are based on perceptions of experts on women’s issues
  2. Respondents were asked to name the five most dangerous countries for women and then asked to name the worst country under six different categories
  3. India has been ranked as the most dangerous on three of the topic questions:
  • the risk of sexual violence and harassment against women
  • the danger women face from cultural, tribal and traditional practices, and
  • the country where women are most in danger of human trafficking including forced labour, sex slavery and domestic servitude

The question on cultural practices targeting women included offences such as infanticide, acid attacks, female genital mutilation, child marriage, forced marriage, physical abuse or mutilation as a form of punishment

Jun, 05, 2018

Ban proposed on obscene depiction of women on Net

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Social empowerment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Indecent Representation of Women Act, 1986, IT Act, 2008

Mains level: Rising crimes against women and curbing them effectively


News

Protecting dignity of women

  1. The Ministry of Women and Child Development has proposed to ban obscene depiction of women on the Internet and on SMS/MMS by amending the Indecent Representation of Women Act, 1986
  2. The Ministry has also suggested that stricter punishments be awarded for such crimes on par with those recommended under the IT Act, 2008
  3. It has also proposed setting up a central authority under the National Commission of Women, which will include representatives from Advertising Standards Council of India, Press Council of India, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and one member with experience of working on women’s issues

IRW Act, 1986

  1. The Act in its current form defines an advertisement as any notice, circular, label, wrapper or other documents, visible representation made by means of any light, sound, smoke or gas
  2. It seeks to prohibit indecent representation of women through advertisements, publications, writings, paintings, figures, among others
  3. The IRW Act provides for punishment of up to two years in jail for an offence committed for the first time and imprisonment of six months to five years for a second conviction

IT Act provisions

  1. Sections 67 and 67A of the IT Act lay down a punishment of three to five years for circulating obscene material and five to seven years for circulating sexually explicit material, respectively
May, 14, 2018

Domestic Violence Act for divorced women too: Supreme Court

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Domestic Violence Act, 2005

Mains level: The article talks about expanding the ambit of domestic violence and its reasons.


News

Act Extends post Divorce as well

  1. The Domestic Violence Act, 2005 — meant to punish men who abuse women in a relationship — extends to all man-woman relationships, and also protects divorced women from their former husbands, the Supreme Court has upheld
  2. A three-judge Bench of Justices confirmed a Rajasthan High Court ruling of 2013 that the term ‘domestic violence’ cannot be restrained to marital relations alone
  3. The Supreme Court’s recent order differ with the High Court’s conclusion that ‘domestic relationship’ includes consanguinity, marriage, a relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption or as family members living together as a joint family

Why such ruling?

  1. The court held that domestic violence can continue even after divorce and the reach of the Act should not be shackled by confining only for the protection of women living in marriage
  2. It illustrated how a divorcee husband could resort to violence by entering the workplace of his former wife to commit an act of violence or even attempt to communicate with her, or threaten or cause violence to her relatives or dependants or any other person
  3. It amounts to domestic violence if the former husband tried to dispossess the woman from a jointly-owned property or refuse to return her ‘stridhan’ or valuable security or other property
  4. The Act brings all these acts of violence within its ambit

SC on Domestic Relations

  1. The apex court did not intervene with the interpretation that ‘domestic relationship’ is not confined to the relationship as husband and wife or a relationship in the nature of marriage, but it includes other relationship as well such as sisters, mother, etc.
  2. The domestic relationship includes any relationship between two persons who either live at the present moment or have at any point of time in the past lived together in a shared household
  3. The absence of subsisting domestic relationship in no manner prevents the court from granting certain reliefs specified under the Act, the High Court’s reasoning was upheld by the Bench
Apr, 16, 2018

Govt. ties up with IIT-Delhi for safety switches on vehicles

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Nirbhaya Fund

Mains level: Particulars of the new safety system.


News

Women Safety through technical solution

  1. The Ministry of Electronics and IT in partnership with IIT-Delhi is working on a switch-based device in cars and buses to aid safety of women

Particulars of the system

  1. The proposed panic switch system when invoked will generate a loud alarm in the vehicle which will attract public attention,
  2. and send the coordinates of the person to a server [police control room] to provide necessary help
  3. The system will include features such as authenticating the driver of the vehicles and a camera interface

Trials for the systems are going on

  1. The field trials for the beta version of the system are already underway, and the Ministry expects to start rolling out the final version by next month
  2. The first version has been field tested and the final version is expected in May, 2018 for cars and by August, 2018 for buses

Funds from ‘Nirbhaya fund’

  1. The project is being funded by the Nirbhaya Fund, set up in 2013 for implementation of initiatives aimed at enhancing the safety and security of women in the country

The government is already late

  1. In 2016, the government had announced plans to make it mandatory for mobile phone makers to provide a panic button on the device, starting January 2017
  2. However, the plans were delayed by almost a year
  3. The trial for the system finally started in U.P. earlier this year

Back2basics

Nirbhaya Fund

  1. Nirbhaya Fund is an Indian rupee 10 billion corpus announced by Government of India in its 2013 Union Budget
  2. According to the then Finance Minister, this fund is expected to support initiatives by the government and NGOs working towards protecting the dignity and ensuring safety of women in India
  3. Nirbhaya (fearless) was the pseudonym given to the 2012 Delhi gang rape victim to hide her actual identity
  4. The Ministry of Women and Child Development, along with several other concerned ministries, will work out details of the structure, scope and the application of this fund
Apr, 06, 2018

[pib] Mahila Shakti Kendra Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Mahila Shakti Kendra Scheme

Mains level: Schemes for women safety and empowerment


News:

Related Ministry/Department: Minister for Women and Child Development

  • Government of India has approved a new scheme namely Mahila Shakti Kendra for 2017-18 upto 2019-20 to empower rural women through community participation.
  • The scheme is envisaged to work at various levels, and at the National level (domain based knowledge support) and State level (State Resource Centre for Women) technical support to the respective governments on issues related to women is provided.
  • Community engagement through College Student Volunteers is envisioned in 115 most backward districts as part of the Block Level initiatives. 
  • Student volunteers will play an instrumental role in awareness generation regarding various important government schemes/ programmes as well as social issues.
  • The Scheme is implemented through the State Government /UT Administration with a cost sharing ratio of 60:40 between centre and states except for NE & Special Category States where the funding ratio is 90:10.
Apr, 06, 2018

[pib] Swadhar Greh Scheme 

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Swadhar Greh Scheme

Mains level: Rehabilitation measures for victims of violence esp women


News:

Related Ministry/Department: Ministry of Women and Child Development

Objective: Swadhar Greh Scheme targets the women victims of difficult circumstances who are in need of institutional support for rehabilitation so that they could lead their life with dignity.

The Scheme envisages providing shelter, food, clothing and health as well as economic and social security for these women.

Swadhar Greh is a DBT compliant scheme. Gazette Notification has been issued and the same has been forwarded to the State Governments/UT Administrations with the request to furnish the data of beneficiaries.

As per guidelines of the Swadhar Greh Scheme, to seek financial assistance the agency should meet following requirements:

  • The agency should be either recognized by State/UT under existing law or should be well known with the experience or working in the field for at least 3 years and its work should be reported satisfactory by the State Govt./UT Administration concerned.
  • It should ordinarily have been engaged in the field of women’s welfare/social welfare for a minimum period of two years
  • Its financial position should be sound
  • It should have facilities, resources, experience and personnel to undertake the management of such project
  • It should run Swadhar Greh on a no-profit basis and
  • It should have facilities like computers, internet connection etc at Swadhar Greh
Feb, 19, 2018

The law, penalty, and aid for acid attack cases

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Section 326 of the Indian Penal Code

Mains level: Measures taken for welfare of acid attack survivors


News

Acid attack a crime since 2013

  1. Until the 2013 amendment to Section 326 of the Indian Penal Code, there had been no specific legislation to deal with cases of acid attack cases in the country
  2. After the amendment, accused in acid attacks can be prosecuted under section 326A in case of grievous injury and 326B in cases of relatively lesser injuries to victims
  3. Section 326 of the Indian Penal Code deals with voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means

SC verdict for acid attack survivors

  1. The Supreme Court in May 2013, while ruling on the case of Delhi-based acid victim Laxmi Agarwal, called for regulation on the sale of acid
  2. It directed state governments across the country to frame a policy for the welfare of victims
  3. SC also ruled that state governments should hand over Rs 3 lakh as compensation for victims and ensure free treatment at any hospital

Effect of SC verdict

  1. Since the SC’s 2013 ruling, states have taken steps to regulate the sale of acid such as sulphuric acid and hydrochloric acid, which are used for toilet cleaning purposes
  2. Dairy farmers use sulphuric acid to determine fat content in milk
Feb, 12, 2018

In SC, Centre lists steps to end sexual harassment at workplace

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, Redressal) Act, 2013, SHe-Box

Mains level: Vulnerability of women towards sexual harassment and measures required to curb this


News

Ensuring safe workplaces for women

  1. The Centre has informed the Supreme Court of its efforts to urge business associations like the ASSOCHAM and the FICCI to ensure effective implementation of the law to prevent sexual harassment at workplace
  2. The government said the States and the Union Territories were asked to organize workshops and awareness programmes on the law in every industry
  3. This is for ensuring compliance with the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, Redressal) Act, 2013

SHe-Box

  1. An online complaint management system, called the sexual harassment electronic-box (SHe-Box), was developed for registering complaints of sexual harassment at workplace
  2. It is an effort of the government of India to provide a single-window access to every woman, irrespective of her work status, whether working in organized or unorganized, private or public sector, to facilitate registration of complaint of sexual harassment
  3. Once a complaint was submitted to SHe-Box, it would be directly sent to the authorities concerned for action
Dec, 28, 2017

[op-ed snap] A very flawed law

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Draft Law

Mains level: It is important know the views of the other side, who are opposing the draft law.


News

Contradictions in the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017

  1. The draft law goes on to declare that the pronouncement of triple talaq “shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and fine”, and the offence would be “cognizable and non-bailable”
  2. This amounts to a gross misreading of the August 2017 Supreme Court judgment which neutralised the legal effect of instant talaq and rendered it bad in law
  3. In other words, the pronouncement of talaq-e-biddat does not dissolve the marriage, and this is the law of the land under Article 141

Main issue

  1. The proposed Bill presumes that the “pronouncement” of talaq-e-biddat can instantaneously and irrevocably dissolve the marriage, and proceeds to “void” it in Section 3
  2. Nonetheless, this begs the question of how after rendering talaq-e-biddat inoperative in Section 3, its nugatory pronouncement can be considered a cognisable and non-bailable offence in Sections 4 and 7
  3. Can a law criminalise an act after conceding that it does not result in a crime?

Contradictions related to allowance and custody of minor children

  1. The draft law discuss post-divorce issues such as a “subsistence allowance” for the woman upon whom instant talaq “is pronounced”
  2. And the “custody of her minor children” as if her marriage is dissolved by the mere pronouncement of talaq-e-biddat
  3. How could the authors of this Bill talk of post-divorce matters ignoring the fact that the pronouncement (instant talaq) has already been voided in Section 3 and cannot result in a divorce?

What can we learn from the Pakistan’s Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961?

  1. According to the Pakistan’s law, ‘any man who wishes to divorce his wife shall, after the pronouncement of talaq in any form whatsoever, give the chairman of the state-appointed Union Council notice in writing of his having done so, with a copy submitted to the wife
  2. Within 30 days of receipt of notice, the chairman should constitute an arbitration council that comprises himself and a representative of each of the parties, for the purpose of bringing about a reconciliation between the parties
  3. And talaq shall not be effective until the expiration of 90 days from the day on which notice is delivered to the chairman
  4. If the wife is pregnant at the time of the pronouncement, talaq shall not be effective until the termination of her pregnancy
  5. In Pakistan, the mere pronouncement of talaq-e-biddat neither dissolves the marriage nor is it a cognisable offence

Conclusion

  1. The draft law negates the recent SC ruling by unwittingly favouring the All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s medieval view that the pronouncement of talaq-e-biddat breaks the marriage, and, therefore, needs to criminalised
Dec, 28, 2017

No official data on existence of Female Genital Mutilation in India, Centre tells SC

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Social empowerment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Female Genital Mutilation, IPC, POCSO, Government of India Allocation of Business Rules

Mains level: Inhuman practices against women and how to stop them


News

No official data or study that supports the existence of FGM in India

  1. The Ministry of Women and Child Development has held that there is no official data or study that supports the existence of FGM in India
  2. This is in response to a writ petition seeking a ban on subjecting minor girls from the Dawoodi Bohra community to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
  3. The writ petition is seeking a ban on the inhuman practice of ‘khatna’ or FGM, also known as ‘female circumcision’ or ‘khafd’ making it a cognizable, non-compoundable and non-bailable offense

About the issue

  1. Bohra women have been campaigning for a ban on the practice of type 1 FGM (removal of the clitoral hood) in India
  2. They had submitted their petition to WCD Minister in May 2017
  3. As an interim measure, the ministry said it would issue advisories to all state governments, pointing out the IPC and POCSO provisions under which FGM cases can be prosecuted

FGM violation of fundamental rights

  1. FGM has no reference in the Quran, violates fundamental rights and the rights of the child, and has been banned in the US, Australia and 27 countries in Africa
  2. India, being a signatory to the UN General Assembly resolution of December 30, 2012, for a worldwide ban on FGM, should also declare it illegal

Provisions against FGM

  1. Female genital cutting is a crime punishable under the IPC
  2. There are various POCSO sections dealing with penetrative sexual assault, aggravated penetrative sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault under which hospital staff, blood relations or guardians of the child can be made to serve a jail term

Responsibility of other ministries

  1. Under the Government of India Allocation of Business Rules, the Ministry of Home Affairs is the nodal ministry dealing with criminal law against women and children
  2. Ministry of External Affairs is the nodal ministry with reference to all international treaties
  3. This also makes them a party in FGM case
Dec, 18, 2017

[op-ed snap] Divorce as crime

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the bill

Mains level: The article talks about a different side of the issue of ‘criminalizing Triple Talaq.’ It is important to know views of both sides.


News

What is the issue?

  1. The Centre’s proposal to make instant triple talaq an offence is an unnecessary attempt to convert a civil wrong into a criminal act

Welcome features of the proposed Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017

  1. The bill have provisions for maintenance or subsistence allowance to the wife and children in the event of triple talaq being pronounced
  2. It seeks to preserve the woman’s entitlement to custody of her children

Argument against the Bill

  1. Instant triple talaq is viewed as sinful and improper by a large section of the community itself
  2. Therefore, there can be no dispute about the need to protect Muslim women against the practice
  3. There have been 66 cases of its use after the Supreme Court verdict only underscores the need for protecting women against desertion and abandonment
  4. But is it justified to send someone to jail
  5. Also, the fine amount under consideration could as well be awarded as maintenance or subsistence allowance

498A can be used in Triple Talaq cases

  1. There is no need for a fresh criminal provision when existing laws
  2. Under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code or provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 already allow the prosecution of a husband for inflicting physical or mental cruelty, emotional and economic abuse, and for deprivation of financial resources

The way forward

  1. Regardless of whether instant talaq would fall under any of these forms of cruelty or domestic violence
  2. Criminalising it risks defeating the objective of preserving the husband’s legal obligations, and the payment of maintenance
  3. The government would do well to reconsider its draft and limit its scope to providing relief to women, instead of creating a new offence out of a civil matter
Dec, 16, 2017

Cabinet gives nod to bill against instant triple talaq

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, Domestic Violence Act

Mains level: Present provisions for safety of women and their inefficiency in dealing with crimes against women


News

Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill gets cabinet approval

  1. The bill would give legal teeth to women of the community to fight talaq-e-biddat or instant triple talaq
  2. The law, when passed by the Parliament, would hold against instant triple talaq in “oral, written, electronic or in any other form”
  3. Bill makes the practice a “cognizable and non-bailable” offense
  4. Any declaration of talaq-e-biddat by the husband shall be “illegal and void”
  5. The law would be applicable to the entire country except for Jammu and Kashmir

Why a separate bill?

  1. The provisions of the Domestic Violence Act were found to be of little help in such cases even as the government and the Prime Minister’s Office were receiving complaints from women

What next?

  1. Once the law is passed in Parliament, the Muslim clergy will have no role in cases of talaq-e-biddat and women can directly approach police for redress

Key provisions of the bill

  1. The law proposes three years’ jail to a man who resorts to instant triple talaq
  2. It enables the woman of such a divorce to move court seeking “subsistence allowance” for herself and the children
  3. Under the provisions in the Bill, a Muslim woman can seek custody of her minor children from the court
  4. Besides imprisonment, the husband will also be liable to pay a fine

Effect of SC judgment

  1. On August 22, the Supreme Court had “set aside” the centuries-old practice of instant triple talaq by calling the practice un-Islamic and “arbitrary”
Dec, 15, 2017

[op-ed snap] Gender-based laws: a double-edged sword

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Social empowerment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Hindu Marriage Act

Mains level: Measures needed to remove gender-based discrimination from society


Context

  1. The Supreme Court’s notice to the government regarding Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), relating to adultery laws, has brought dated assumptions about gender to light

What is the law?

  1. The law allows the husband to initiate criminal proceedings against his wife’s lover
  2. It does not punish his wife since it presumes that only a man can seduce a woman into a sexual act
  3. Also, it is the husband who has suffered due to the sexual relationship of his wife, carried out without his consent
  4. At the same time, the wife is not protected from similar behavior committed by her husband

What is the problem with the law?

  1. The problem with this law is that it treats men and women differently
  2. It perpetuates the notion that women are somehow naive, gullible, and lack the agency a man possesses

Is this the only law doing discrimination?

  1. This caricature can be seen in other laws too
  2. The law criminalizes consensual sex between minors as rape committed by the boy 
  3. Women are legally entitled to maintenance from their father until they get married, while boys are only allowed this until they are 18
  4. If a woman dies without a will, the Hindu inheritance laws put the rights of her husband’s heirs above those of her parents
  5. Women cannot be jailed for not filing their income tax
  6. Marital rape is considered an oxymoron

Ad hoc provisions for women security

  1. In the light of its failure to provide security, the state has resorted to protecting the interests of women through ad hoc provisions
  2. These have proved to be counterproductive
  3. Example: The recent legislation mandating paid maternity leave of 26 weeks and crèche facility in companies hiring more than 50 employees
  4. The law intends to benefit working women, but the second-order effects of the piece of legislation will likely be that firms will hire fewer women, and pay those they hire less salary to compensate for the maternity benefits
  5. The law furthers several stereotypes as well—that all women want to have babies, that all women want 26 weeks of paid leave, that it is only the woman’s job to take care of the newborn

State has used the law to perpetuate cultural practices

  1. If relationships are abusive, it should be easy for the parties to leave them
  2. But till as recently as September 2017, the Hindu Marriage Act required that even couples seeking divorce through mutual consent demonstrate that they had tried to work on their marriage
  3. They should wait for at least six months after they had first filed for divorce
  4. There is, however, still no provision for divorce on grounds of ‘irretrievable breakdown of marriage’—a standard practice in other countries

Way forward

  1. In a civilized society, physical strength should not determine your options in life
  2. In the West, more social progress on gender equality has been made because women are relatively freer to live independent lives
  3. The process is likely to be no different in India
  4. It’s time to remove from the law all privileges and disadvantages that are based on gender
Dec, 14, 2017

[op-ed snap] The outsider: On adultery law

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Social empowerment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, Article 15(3) of Constitution, Section 198(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure

Mains level: Various laws/provisions that treat women as subordinate and need to repeal them


Context

Reconsideration of the law on adultery

  1. By agreeing to have another look at the constitutional validity of Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, under which men can be prosecuted for adultery, the Supreme Court has re-opened a question that has been decided thrice in the past
  2. While agreeing to issue notice to the government, the Bench has observed that the provision is archaic

Court’s initial observation

  1. SC has noted that in a case of adultery, one person is liable for the offense but the other is absolved and that the concept of gender neutrality, on which criminal law normally proceeds, is absent
  2. The court has also noted that once the consent or connivance of the husband is established, there is no offense of adultery at all
  3. SC described this as subordination of a woman and something that “creates a dent on the independent identity of a woman”

Past judgments of SC

  1. In the past, the Supreme Court has emphasized that a married woman is a “victim” and the man is “the author of the crime”
  2. It has treated the exemption given to women as a special provision that has the protection of Article 15(3)
  3. It has rejected the argument that it is discriminatory by pointing out that neither a man nor a woman can prosecute their disloyal spouses
  4. It is only the ‘outsider’ to the matrimonial relationship who can be prosecuted, and that too by the aggrieved husband alone
  5. This is made clear in Section 198(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, a provision also under challenge

International efforts

  1. Many countries across the world do not treat adultery as an offense any longer
  2. In 2012, a United Nations Working Group on laws that discriminate against women wanted countries that treat adultery as a crime, to repeal such laws

Why is this issue important?

  1. The matter now goes beyond the limited question of the culpability of women involved in a relationship outside their marriage
  2. It raises the related question whether there is an implicit subordination of the will of a woman
Dec, 11, 2017

[op-ed snap] Arbitrary and irrational

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Arguments against fixing criminal liability with cases of Triple Talaq


News

Muslim Woman Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill 

  1. The Government has proposed the bill for the winter session of Parliament
  2. With this, a husband who resorts to instant triple talaq can be jailed for up to three years and fined
  3. But the bill needs a closer scrutiny as there is stigma attached to criminal conviction

SC’s comment on the same

  1. The SC in its judgement has said if Parliament wants, it can enact a law on it(Triple Talaq)
  2. But nowhere in its judgment has the top court said that triple divorce is to be criminally punished

Is there any need to enact law against Triple Talaq?(Constitutionally) 

  1. In the Supreme Court judgment, the majority of three judges had already “set aside” triple divorce
  2. Under Article 141 of the Constitution, this is the “law declared by the Supreme Court”
  3. Therefore, there is basically no need for any law as triple divorce no longer dissolves marriage

Why is there no need of enacting a criminal against Triple Talaq?

  1. Since triple divorce no more dissolves marriage, its pronouncement is inconsequential and in no way adversely affects either the wife or society
  2. Thus no legitimate state interest is adversely affected

Two important questions

  1.  Are we going to make triple divorce a ‘strict liability’ offence which would mean that even if the person did not intend to divorce his wife, he would be punished for mere utterance of the word “divorce” thrice?
  2. Since the cardinal principle of criminal law is presumption of innocence and the burden of proof is always on the prosecution which has to prove the case beyond a shadow of a doubt
  3. Then, how will the poor wife prove instant triple divorce if declared orally when no one else was around?
  4. The husband will be entitled to acquittal claiming the benefit of doubt

On what basis has the Bill provided for imprisonment of three years?

  1. Why did the government not look at provisions under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which is the general criminal law of the country?
  2. For what crimes does the IPC reserve imprisonment of three years?
  3. For example, Section 148, which is on rioting and armed with deadly weapon, has a provision of three years or with fine, or with both(and other serious cirmes like these)
  4. These serious crimes are in no way comparable to an individual who instead of taking three months to divorce his wife, just took a minute in making all three pronouncements
  5. Thus imprisonment of three years for triple divorce is excessive, arbitrary and irrational, and violative of Article 14

The way forward

  1. Ideally, divorce should not be treated by divorcees as the end of the world
  2. Our women do not need men to lead a dignified life
  3. We must remove the stigma attached to divorces. Triple divorce should be nothing more than civil contempt of the Supreme Court
Dec, 09, 2017

Adultery law weighted in favour of men: Supreme Court

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Social empowerment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Adultery, Section 497, IPC, Article 15 of Constitution

Mains level: Equal status to women in society still a far cry


News

Section 497 of the IPC needs to be rebuked

  1. The Supreme Court said the dusty Victorian provision of adultery in the Indian Penal Code treats a married woman as her husband’s “subordinate”
  2. The court admitted a petition to drop adultery as a criminal offence from the statute book
  3. Section 497 of the IPC treats only the man as the offender and the married woman as a victim, court said

Section 497 of the IPC

  1. Section 497 of the IPC mandates that “Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery and shall be punished.”

What would court examine?

The court would examine two aspects of the penal provision

  1. Why does Section 497 treat the man as the adulterer and the married woman as a victim
  2. The offence of adultery ceases the moment it is established that the husband connived or consented to the adulterous act. So, is a married woman the “property” of her husband or a passive object without a mind of her own?

What does constitution say about equality?

  1. The Constitution confers equal status to a man and a woman
  2. It amounts to a violation of a women’s fundamental right against discrimination under Article 15 when law “assumes a patronising attitude to women.”

Changed view of court

  1. The apex court had earlier on three separate occasions, in 1954, 1985 and 1988, upheld the constitutionality of Section 497
  2. But now, terming the provision “quite archaic,” the court observed in the order that when society progresses, rights are conformed and a new generation of thoughts should spring forth
Dec, 06, 2017

Section 498A, dowry: Most FIRs, least convictions

Note4students

 Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Section 498A, Indian Penal Code (IPC), Dowry Prohibition Act

Mains level: Laws made for protection of women and their effects


News

Cases under Section 498A found to have the lowest conviction rate

  1. Cruelty by husband or his relatives, covered under Section 498A of Indian Penal Code (IPC), makes up the largest chunk of all crimes against women
  2. The charge, often levelled by a wife against her in-laws in cases of dowry harassment, accounts for over 30 per cent of all crimes against women
  3. The crime, however, has the lowest conviction rate
  4. Cases under Section 498A was found to have the lowest conviction rate — merely 12.1 per cent — among all cases of crimes against women

Other provisions and their effects

  1. Close to 10,000 cases were also registered under the Dowry Prohibition Act in 2016, but conviction rate here too was just over 15%
  2. The highest conviction rates have been reported in cases of immoral trafficking (38.5%) and acid attacks (37%)

Debate over Section 498A

  1. Section 498A has been a matter of debate over the last few years
  2. Government in 2015 even attempted to make the offence compoundable
  3. This would have allowed complainants to enter into a compromise with the accused and agree to have the charges dropped
  4. Making the dowry law compoundable was also among the recommendations made by the Law Commission and the Justice Malimath Committee
  5. Various courts, including the Supreme Court, have over the years called Section 498A as being prone to abuse
  6. In 2014, the SC said that it had a “dubious place of pride amongst the provisions that are used as weapons rather than shield by disgruntled wives”
Oct, 14, 2017

[op-ed snap] The legal message

source:

 

Note4Students

Mains Paper 1: Social Issues | Role of Women & Women’s organisation

 

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: Nothing Much

Mains level: This article is important for mains. It lists down why marital rape is an exemption in India and even in countries like USA where all states have enacted laws against marital rape but still it is considered less serious than rape outside marriage. Some solutions have also been suggested.

 


News

Context

  1. Sc criminalized sex between a man and his minor wife.
  2. The court refrained from adjudicating on the issue of marital rape, its judgment made reference to the Justice J.S. Verma committee recommendations that explained why the exemption of marital rape must be removed, and that a marital or other relationship is not a defence or justification for a lower sentence.

 

Why is there exemption of Marital Rape in India?

  1. The notion that  marriage constitutes a contract, which includes the woman’s irrevocable consent to sex
  2. A woman is the property of her husband, and rape is a violation of a man’s property rather than a crime against women
  3. after marriage, a woman’s identity becomes part of her husband’s.
  4. The Indian government has consistently resisted a change in the law.
  5. Even after 2012 Delhi gang rape case that resulted in in an amendment to the criminal legislation in India, including the definition and punishment of rape.
  6. However, the exemption of marital rape was retained, despite recommendations by the Justice Verma committee.
  7. According to lawmakers if marital rape is brought under the law, the entire family system will be under great stress.
  8. Recently Delhi High Court has been hearing petitions seeking the inclusion of marital rape under the existing rape law.
  9. This has been rejected by the government on the grounds that it will be used to harass men and will affect the institution of marriage.
  10. A greater importance is being given by the government to marriage than women rights.
  11. Women right activists do not believe in placing rape on a pedestal within the hierarchy of crimes within a marriage.That is, for a woman who is facing domestic violence, it is equally violating if her skull is fractured, her spine is broken, or her vagina is penetrated forcefully. What women object to is the violence involved.
  12. In cases of non-marital rape, judges have suggested that rape victims marry their rapist for a “happy conclusion”, which highlights the notion that forced sex does not amount to rape if it takes place within a marriage.

 

Current scenario in USA

  1. In USA marital rape is treated differently from other forms of rape.
  2. Although all 50 states had enacted laws against marital rape by 1993, almost half the States still treat it differently from rape outside of marriage. 
  3. In some states, marital rape is a chargeable offence only if the perpetrator uses or threatens to use physical force.
  4. Proof of marriage is often an easy way to reduce or mitigate the consequences of the offence.
  5. These kinds of legal distinctions legitimise the perception among law-enforcement agencies that cases of marital rape should be treated as less serious than rape outside of marriage.

 

Way Forward

  1. A narrow focus on sexual violence ignores the multiplicity of suffering faced by women and can result in inadequate attention being paid to their other needs. A broad focused policy approach is needed.
  2. We need to ensure that law and policy interventions do not inadvertently trivialise non-sexual violence and that steps are taken to strengthen compliance and implementation of laws relating to all forms of violence.
  3. There is a need to recognise that removing the current marital exception, if nothing else, has an important signalling effect.
  4. In order to prove effective, such a change needs to be accompanied by a deliberate attempt to shift attitudes that normalise violence in the home.
  5. The strategies must focus on structural factors that prevent the incidence of rape, rather than focussing only on strengthening response mechanisms.
  6. Since gender socialisation begins young, there is need to focus interventions on children and adolescents through family and societal institutions, popular culture and media. Disruptive and violent environment at home must be prevented.
  7. In addition to sensitising law enforcement authorities whose attitudes are merely symptomatic of widely-held beliefs about women and gender roles, we need to work with children, parents and the larger community to ensure marital rape is condemned, not condoned.

 

Sep, 06, 2017

Government’s refusal to criminalize marital rape is unjust, inconsistent

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Social empowerment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: It is a hot topic these days, because the SC is taking cognizance of this issue.


News

Affidavit against Marital Rape

  1. The Central government has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court arguing against criminalizing marital rape
  2. According to the Government, doing so would “destabilize the institution of marriage, apart from being an easy tool for harassing husbands”

Negative Effects on Society

  1. By doing this, the government is effectively doing away with the responsibility towards millions of women who face sexual violence from their husbands
  2. Statistics also show that couples who have seen such violence among their parents are more likely to experience it themselves
  3. This means that justifying such acts in the name of stabilizing families only perpetuates them

Specific issues from the National Family and Health Survey
(1) Justifying spousal violence in the name of family only perpetuates it

  1. Lack of prosecution is only a part of the problem
  2. Entrenched patriarchal notions have legitimized such violence even among women
  3. More than four in 10 women who had experienced physical or sexual violence felt that wife-beating was justified under various excuses

(2) More than 40% women who faced violence by their husbands, think its justified

  1. These figures underline the need for undertaking both legal and social reforms to deal with the menace of sexual violence by husbands against their wives
Aug, 18, 2017

All-woman Navy team to circumnavigate the globe

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women and women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Title, INSV Tarini

Mains level: A good example of Women Empowerment in the country.


News

First-ever circumnavigation of the globe

  1. A six-member women’s team of the Indian Navy will sail to circumnavigate the globe on the sailing vessel, INSV Tarini
  2. This is the first-ever circumnavigation of the globe by an all-woman crew from India
  3. Title of the Mission:  Navika Sagar Parikrama

INSV Tarini

  1. It is a 55-foot sailing vessel
  2. It has been built indigenously, and was inducted in to the Navy earlier this year
Aug, 14, 2017

[op-ed snap] An odd leniency to minor’ sexual offences

Image result for violence against women in india

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Once you are done reading this op-ed, you will be able to attempt the below.

“So-called ‘minor’ sexual offences such as stalking inhibit women from occupying public space” Discuss it in the backdrop of increasing violence against women in India

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Increasing violence against women – reason, government initiatives, way forward


News

Context

  1. Data from the National Crime Records Bureau show that there has been a rise in stalking registered since the provision was introduced through the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013
  2. Despite rising numbers, the conversation on sexual violence in India continues to be centred on rape.

Why Amendment ?

  1. Before the 2013 amendment, the law was ill-equipped to deal with the offence of stalking
  2. Section 509 of IPC: “Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman.” The provision was inadequate in tackling the menace of stalking because one had to prove that the accused intended to ‘outrage the modesty of the woman’ through his act
  3. Section 354 – “Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty” — necessitated the use of physical force. The phrase “outraging the modesty of a woman” is not defined anywhere in the law, leaving its interpretation open-ended
  4. The IT Act, 2000 also lacks adequate provisions to deal with electronic stalking. Under it, Section 66E, on the violation of the privacy of an individual, requires the intentional capturing, publishing or transmission of an obscene image of a person without their consent.

Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013

  1. Apart from expanding the scope of rape and penalising voyeurism and eve-teasing, the 2013 Amendment also defined and recognised stalking as a standalone offence.
  2. Section 354-D of the IPC makes both physical and electronic stalking an offence. Here, under subsection 1, the intention of the perpetrator is irrelevant as long as the woman in question “has clearly expressed her disinterest”.
  3. Subsection 2 criminalises the monitoring of a woman’s online behaviour.

Problem with subsection 2

  1. The Verma Committee draftstated that online monitoring should amount to stalking only when it results “in a fear of violence or serious alarm or distress in the mind” of the victim.
  2. It has been argued that subsection 2 has the potential to be used arbitrarily.

Further, there are three exceptions to the offence if the conduct was:

  • Pursued for prevention or detection of crime by a person authorised to do so
  • Pursued under any law
  • Reasonable and justified in the circumstances.

Such loose drafting can be attributed to the fact that the 2013 Amendment was a knee jerk reaction.

Way forward?

  1. “Minor” sexual offences such as stalking, voyeurism and eve-teasing in effect deprive us of our fundamental right to occupy public space without fear.
  2. So we must broaden our narrative on sexual violence and start recognising the multitudes of infractions as a part of it.

 

Aug, 11, 2017

Allow payment, live-in couples: House panel for more liberal surrogacy Bill

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Bill

Mains level: This issue is related to both men and women. Surrogacy is a hot topic these days, the government’s decision to make a new legislation on it makes it more important for UPSC


News

Recommendation of a Parliamentary Standing Committee

  1. The panel has recommended more liberal norms that will allow live-in couples, divorced women, and widows to choose surrogates
  2. It has recommended that couples should be allowed to choose surrogates from both within and outside the family
  3. The Panel  also favoured the decision to debar foreigners from availing of surrogacy services in India
  4. Committee: The committee is a 31 member Parliamentary Committee on Health and Family Welfare

Criticism of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 by the panel

  1. It criticized the exclusion of live-in partners from the ambit of the legislation
  2. According to the panel, the bill talks about compensation rather than altruism as the guiding principle of surrogacy, the panel finds this anti-women

 Background of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016

  1. The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 was introduced in Lok Sabha on November 21, 2016 and referred to the standing committee

Some features of the Bill

  1. According to the bill, surrogacy is allowed for infertile Indian married couples where the woman is between 23-50 years and the man is between 26-55 years
  2. Also, couple cannot have a surviving child, either biological or adopted
Aug, 02, 2017

[op-ed snap] Victim in the dock

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women and women’s organization

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims Level: Particulars of the 498a

Mains Level: The article presents other side of the story on the recent SC judgement on Section-498a. It is important to note important facts given in the article.


News

Context

  1. The article is written on the recent judgement on Section-498A by the SC
  2. According to the writer, the judgement has some error in it
  3. The article is a little bit biased against SC judgement but it reveals some important concerns of the new procedure

New procedure under 498A

  1. In order to prevent the perceived misuse of the criminal law of cruelty against women, welfare committees, have been put in place to scrutinise a complaint by a woman
  2. Welfare Committees: It includes paralegals, volunteers, social workers, retired persons, wives of working officers and other citizens, who are found suitable and willing
  3. The police must ensure that every complaint under Section 498A is referred to the welfare committee
  4. Then committee within one month will prepare a report, give its opinion and send it back to the police
  5. Till the report of the committee is received there will be no arrest

Negative effects of this procedure

  1.  Section 498A is particularly effective when invoked against an NRI husband who tries to evade the law and abscond to foreign land
  2. In all such cases, the woman does apply for a red corner notice and the impounding of the passport of the husband
  3. This will no longer be possible

Low access to law

  1. As per NFHS, a mere two per cent of women may have sought police support against violence, while the rest have not accessed the law
  2. Low conviction rates exist across the board, in relation to all crimes
  3. The same problem is present in cases under 498a
Nov, 16, 2016

[op-ed snap] Comparative study of crime against women

  1. Incidence of crime against women rose significantly from 2001-2015
  2. Statistics: Three worst States (2001) – Delhi, Haryana and Assam, in 2015, Assam replaced Haryana as the second worst
  3. Best performers- Nagaland, Meghalaya, and Sikkim (2001), top two replaced by Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu in 2015
  4. Concentration of crimes mainly in U.P., Maharashtra and Rajasthan- throughout
  5. Inter-State variations owing to: affluence of a State, religion, demographics including female/male ratio,
  6. Employment opportunities for women, their literacy, rural/urban population ratio, quality of governance in the State and media exposure
  7. Studying various indicators: Increase in State GDP associated with reduction in incidence of serious crimes
  8. Female bargaining power depends on their literacy and employment, and are thus favourable indicators
  9. Higher rural/urban population, higher incidence of serious crimes against women
  10. Hindu women more prone to crimes against them than their Muslim counterparts. More cases of wife-beating and dowry-related violence among Hindus
  11. Amartya Sen emphasised that serious crimes against women are closely intertwined with inefficient policing and judicial systems, and callousness of society
Oct, 11, 2016

SC widens ambit of Domestic Violence Act

  1. In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court has widened the scope of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
  2. It ordered the deletion of the words ‘adult male’ from Section 2(q) of the law
  3. The section deals with respondents who can be sued and prosecuted under the Act for harassing a married woman in her matrimonial home
  4. It paves the way for prosecution of women and even non-adults for subjecting a woman relative to violence and harassment
Sep, 21, 2016

Online search engines should check sex determination ads, says Supreme Court

  1. SC: Online search engines Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are under an obligation to check pre-natal sex determination advertisements
  2. Directed them to develop in-house methods to prohibit such content
  3. The companies have agreed to follow the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act
  4. Auto-block Technique: Developed by the three companies which prohibits advertisements on sex determination
Aug, 22, 2016

SC upholds bar on automatic arrests in dowry cases

  1. News: SC has upheld a 2014 Supreme Court verdict that men cannot be automatically arrested on dowry harassment complaints filed by their wives
  2. Reason: Dowry harassment law has become a menace, more often used as weapons rather than shields by disgruntled wives
  3. Dowry harassment: A cognisable and non-bailable offence & if guilty, a person faces up to 3 years’ imprisonment and fine under Section 498A of IPC
  4. Highest cases: Cases under Section 498A made up 4.5% of the total crimes charged under different sections of the IPC- more than any other crimes excepting theft and hurt
  5. Lowest conviction: Charge-sheeting rate is 93.6%, while the conviction rate is only 15%, which is lowest across all heads
Aug, 20, 2016

Three Indian-American women in race to make history in US politics

  1. News: 3 Indian-Americans figure in a list of 19 women who could make history if elected to Congress in November
  2. Candidates: Pramila Jayapal, running for House of Representatives from Washington state; Kamala Harris, running for Senate from California; and Lathika Mary Thomas, running for the House on a Republican ticket from Florida
Aug, 12, 2016

Other benefits of Maternity Bill

  1. For the first time, women adopting a newborn, aged below three, and ‘commissioning mothers’ will also be entitled to maternity benefits and will get leave for three months
  2. Commissioning Mother: A biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo implanted in another woman
  3. W-f-H: If the nature of work permits, woman may also be allowed to work from home (W-f-H) after the period of maternity leave
  4. Creche: Must be provided at establishments with at least 50 workers, within a certain distance
  5. Women will be allowed four visits to the crèche in a day
  6. The amendments is believed to help approximately 1.8 million women workforce in organised sector
Aug, 12, 2016

India joins Norway, Canada with longest maternity leave

  1. Context: Rajya Sabha recently passed The Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Bill doubling the maternity leave for women from 12 weeks to 26 weeks
  2. News: The Bill brings India to 3rd position in terms of the number of weeks allowed for maternity leave, behind Norway (44) & Canada (50)
  3. Aim: Increasing women’s participation in the workforce which is decreasing day-by-day
  4. However, a woman who has two or more children will continue to get only 12 weeks maternity leave
Aug, 12, 2016

Women MPs pitch for paternity leave


  1. Why paternity leave? Men leave the burden of bringing up kids to women & paternity leave can sensitise them on this issue
  2. Also, when fathers take more paternity leave, it may increase the ability of mothers to engage in paid work, according to the U.S. Department of Labour
  3. Context: Rajya Sabha recently passed The Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Bill doubling the maternity leave for women from 12 weeks to 26 weeks
  4. Background: India doesn’t have a law mandating paternity leave
  5. From 1999, the Centre allows male staff to take 15 days paid leave
Aug, 11, 2016

Paid maternity leave increased to 6 months

  1. News: Union Cabinet approved amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act of 1961 to increase paid leave for expectant mothers from 3 months to 6 & a half months
  2. In a first, women adopting a newborn and those having babies through surrogacy will also be entitled for maternity leave for three months
  3. These amendments are applicable to factories with at least 10 workers & will help around 18 lakh women workers in the organised sector
  4. Amendment also facilitates work from home and mandatory provision for crèche for factories with at least 50 workers
Jul, 08, 2016

India’s widening gender gap a concern, says ILO

  1. News: International Labour Organisation (ILO) expressed concerns over the widening gender gap in workforce in India
  2. According to the ILO, there is a considerable difference in the level of men and women participation in the labour market
  3. While there is a difference of 25% in workforce participation rate of men and women worldwide, in India it is up to 40%
  4. The gender gap in India is very big and the level of women’s participation is going down which is a source of concern
  5. Future: India plans to ratify 2 core ILO conventions soon by amending the Child Labour Act
Jul, 07, 2016

81% Indian women in STEM jobs feel discriminated

  1. Nearly 81% women in India working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) jobs perceive a gender bias in performance evaluation, a study found
  2. Women in India tend to drop out of workforce at key phases in their lives, most notably around childbearing years and later at mid-management levels
  3. Consequently, there are few women left to fill roles in top management
  4. While women in STEM are highly ambitious and driven, but gender bias and hostile work cultures make them feel stalled and hasten their decisions to quit sooner than their male counterparts
Jul, 05, 2016

Greater role of women in the military

  1. News: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar pitched for greater role of women in the armed forces
  2. Context: The psychological barrier of male dominated military was recently broken with the induction of female fighter pilots
  3. Suggestions: Raising an all-women battalion
  4. Stationing of women on warships
  5. Induction of women through the National Defence Academy
  6. Allowing girl students in Sainik schools
  7. If the Army and the Navy are opened up for combat roles for women, India will join the small club of countries in the world, including US, Israel, to have such a system
Jun, 10, 2016

Sexual harassment law likely to be amended

  1. Centre plans to amend the rules dealing with sexual harassment cases
  2. Changes: To make the committee on sexual harassment share its findings with the complainant in cases where no action is recommended against the accused
  3. The panel will not only have to provide a copy of its report to the complainant but would also have to consider any representation against its findings as an appeal before completing its report
May, 30, 2016

Judges should not disclose victim’s name in sexual assault case: HC

  1. Context: HC ordered judges not to mentioned victims name in the sexual assault cases as it affects victim’s reputation
  2. Background: In judgement of molestation case in 2013, district and sessions judge had mentioned the victim’s name
May, 27, 2016

Frame national policy for relief to rape victims: Supreme Court

  1. Context: SC rapped Govt for its National Policy to financially compensate for rape victims
  2. SC issued notice to the Centre, States and UTs on the question of effective implementation of Section 357 A of the Cr.PC
  3. Section 357 A: Mandates States to co-ordinate with the Centre to prepare a scheme for providing funds to compensate and rehabilitate victims or dependents
  4. SC: Setting Nirbhaya Fund is not enough for rape victims
May, 26, 2016

All-woman crew of INSV Mhadei sets sail for Mauritius

  1. Context: Navy’s all-woman crew sailing vessel Mhadei is set for a voyage from Goa to Port Louis in Mauritius
  2. Indian Naval Sailing Vessel (INSV) Mhadei: The first open-ocean voyage of the Navy’s all-woman crew
  3. Aim: To expose the young crew to the weather that they will confront during the circumnavigation of the globe scheduled for 2017
May, 12, 2016

Domestic violence Act misused: Centre

  1. Govt: Sometimes the provisions of the Domestic Violence and Anti-Dowry Acts are misused and several NGOs have also given reports supporting it
  2. Data: Only 13 persons were convicted out of the 639 charge sheeted in 2014 under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005
  3. Why low conviction rate? In many cases, the husband and wife reach a compromise at a later stage and the offences under the Act are of civil nature
Apr, 21, 2016

A step towards gender equality

  1. Context: The Navy has granted permanent commission to seven women officers
  2. It has formalised plans to grant permanent commission in eight branches from 2017
  3. Additional avenues for employment for women officers have also been opened up
  4. From 2017, women officers can choose to join as pilots of maritime reconnaissance planes as also in the naval armament inspectorate cadre
  5. Significance: A step towards giving equal status to women officers
  6. Background: In a landmark judgement in October last year, the Delhi High Court granted permanent commission for women
Apr, 09, 2016

Shani Shingnapur temple lifts ban on women’s entry

  1. Context: The agitation for women’s entry has gained momentum recently
  2. News: The Shani Shingnapur temple trust allowed women to enter the sanctum sanctorum, breaking the tradition followed for several decades
  3. Background: On April 1, the High Court held that it is the women’s fundamental right to go into places of worship and the govt is duty-bound to protect it
  4. Impact: This paves the way for other temples to follow the suit
Apr, 05, 2016

HRD to boost women’s entry in academia

  1. News: The HRD Ministry has decided to give additional time to women and persons with disabilities to complete their M.Phil and Ph.D
  2. Women students would also be given maternity leave of 240 days which will be excluded from their total time of study
  3. Reason: Many women are getting enrolled for higher education but not many are seen in the faculty
  4. Aim: To promote participation of women and persons with disablities in research sphere
Mar, 22, 2016

'Daughterly guilt’ haunts Indian working women

  1. News: A survey found out that in India and China women didn’t want to leave elderly parents in others’ care
  2. Traditionally, India has had poor representation of women in the workforce in junior, middle and senior management levels
  3. Reason: Prominent reason is the affluence of urban male breadwinners
  4. Challenge: Though, the number of women coming into the workforce has increased, but Indian companies are losing 11% of their female workforce every year as a percentage of those employable
Mar, 16, 2016

Women outnumber men in entry level IT hiring

  1. Context: Report by Software industry body – NASSCOM
  2. News: India’s technology sector is hiring more women in entry level positions than men
  3. Women employees are also maturing from managing support roles to handling core business for their respective companies
  4. Importance: It is a sign of growing gender parity in the largely export-driven IT and Business Process Management services sector in the country
  5. Statistics: The Indian IT-BPM sector employs around 3.7 million people directly of which women employees account for around 34%
Mar, 12, 2016

NITI Aayog launches Women Transforming India campaign

  1. News: Initiative launched on International Women’s Day, in partnership with the UN in India and MyGov
  2. Context: With this, NITI Aayog seeks to engage directly with women leaders from across urban and rural areas of India
  3. Relevance: NITI Aayog is seeking for entries in the form of written essays/stories
  4. These stories should reflect new ground broken by women in empowering themselves/others, or of challenging stereotypes
  5. Rewards: Winning entries will receive a certificate of appreciation from NITI Aayog and the UN in India
  6. Important for SDG: This initiative is also a step forward in furthering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have Gender as a stand-alone goal
Mar, 10, 2016

Nari Shakti Puraskar Awarded to TIFAC

  1. News: The President conferred Rani Lakshmibai Award (Nari Shakti Puraskar 2015) to Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC)
  2. Reason: It has done good work for women empowerment in R&D through Intellectual Property Rights training
  3. TIFAC runs a programme as a part of scheme called ‘Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing’ (KIRAN)
  4. KIRAN: It provides training to women who are highly qualified in science and allows them to work from their homes
  5. Most of these women are pursuing their career in the area of IPR
Mar, 09, 2016

Mahila e-Haat, an online marketing platform for women launched

  1. Context: Will provide access to markets to thousands of women who make products and are spread all over the country
  2. Objective: Initiative for meeting aspirations and need of women entrepreneurs which will leverage technology for showcasing products made/manufactured/sold by women entrepreneurs
  3. An initiative for women across the country as a part of ‘Digital India’ and ‘Stand Up India’ initiatives
  4. Participation: Open to all Indian women citizens more than 18 years of age and women SHGs desiring for marketing their legal products/services
Mar, 09, 2016

Gender-parity in world parliaments

  1. Context: Recently, Inter-Parliamentary Union released a report titled “Women in Parliament in 2015”
  2. News: The average share of women in all parliamentary seats following elections held in 2015 was 22.6%
  3. The global percentage of women lawmakers has gone up in the last decade
  4. Mexico is close to achieving gender parity with 42.4% women parliamentarians in its lower house
  5. Statistics: Out of 67 parliaments across the world, women account for at least 30% of membership
Mar, 09, 2016

IAF to get first batch of women fighter pilots soon

  1. News: India could get its first women fighter pilots by June 2016
  2. Background: In October 2015, the Defence Ministry, for the first time, allowed women in combat roles beginning with the Air Force
  3. Challenge: Govt. will move in a phased manner, as necessary facilities for accommodation and training need to be created
  4. The number of women officers joining the forces shows a steep drop in intake last year as compared to the last 3 years
  5. Future: Navy would induct the women pilots in all roles except where staying overnight on board was involved
Feb, 29, 2016

India’s first Gender Park at Kozhikode in Kerala

  1. Importance: It is the first of its kind gender equality convergence centre in Asia
  2. Context: An initiative of the Social Justice Department of the Kerala Government to promote research and other initiatives to enable total gender equality
  3. Why? To encourage women to take part in developmental and decision making process
  4. Relevance: It has been launched as part of supporting the efforts of the State and Central governments in ensuring an inclusive, discrimination free society
  5. Scope: Covers issues pertaining to all 3 genders and in accordance with the 2015 gender and transgender policies of the state government
  6. Focus: On learning, research and capacity development
Feb, 20, 2016

Maharashtra gets first all-woman panchayat

  1. News: Bubnal Gram Panchayat in Shirol Taluka in southern Maharashtra has become the first all-woman panchayat in the state
  2. Relevance: All members of the panchayat are women with no political background
  3. Importance: The village leads a first in the State to adopt 100% political representation for women at the Gram Panchayat level
  4. Way ahead: Bubnal’s example has inspired other villages in the neighbourhood
Feb, 13, 2016

Act against Devadasi system, SC tells States

  1. Context: The prevalence of the illegal practice of “dedicating” young girls as Devadasis
  2. Background: Union govt. has issued advisory to all States and UTs to stop illegal activities of subjecting young girls into the Devadasi system
  3. The News: SC directed all States and UTs to strictly enforce Centre’s advisory
  4. Legality: Section 372 of IPC prohibits selling minors for purposes of prostitution and the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, also makes prostitution an offence in or in the vicinity of public places
  5. Prevalence: The dedication of Devadasis still prevails in Devanagiri district of Karnataka
Feb, 10, 2016

More women executives mean more profits: study

About three in 10 companies worldwide have no women either in executive positions or on their board

  1. Companies with 30 per cent female executives rake in as much as 6 percentage points more in profits, according to a study
  2. Feeding into a global debate over the scarcity of women in decision-making business roles
  3. The conclusion stems from a study of about 22,000 publicly-traded companies in 91 countries ranging from Mexico to Norway and Italy
  4. The presence of women in corporate leadership positions can boost a firm’s performance
  5. This suggesting a reward for policies that facilitate women rising through corporate ranks
  6. The women in executive ranks resulted in better profitability, female CEOs or board members did not have a statistically-significant impact on the bottom line
Feb, 09, 2016

Lack of 'suitable' jobs holding back women employment

A World Bank paper shows decline in female labour force participation over the past decade

  1. Main reason is scarcity ofsuitable job opportunities” outside farming and close to the place of residence
  2. According to NSSO & employment surveys, women participation rates in India fell sharply after 2004-05
  3. This was because of a fall in agricultural employment
  4. According to ILO, India ranks 120 among 131 countries on women labour participation
  5. Traditionally, this has been blamed on a culturally patriarchal society and rising family incomes that allow more women to stay at home
Feb, 02, 2016

660 One Stop Centres for Women to be set up

  1. Govt. has already setup 20 One Stop Centres, called Sakhi and 660 such centres are proposed to be set up.
  2. Seven big states as well as all UTs have operationalised 33% reservation for women and the remaining states are expected to implement it soon.
  3. This will help to deal with crimes against women more effectively.
  4. Within 2 months, all new cell phones will have panic buttons for women in distress.
  5. Vrindavan will have country’s first large facility for nearly 1000 widows where they can live, work, get training etc.
Jan, 21, 2016

The new quota

Bihar’s job reservation quota of 35% for women is a welcome gesture, but focus has to be on increasing opportunities and capabilities.

  1. With not many jobs being created in the public sector, the policy offers more symbolic value than radical content.
  2. Labour force participation rate among women of working age, at 9 per cent, is one of the lowest in India, and far below the all-India average of 33 per cent.
  3. It would help more women take regular wage earning formal sector jobs.
  4. Which would help improve the status of women and make society sensitive towards gender equality in social and economic spaces.
  5. Public institutions that have a representative workforce are likely to provide better services.
Jan, 21, 2016

Nitish Kumar keeps election promise, rolls out 35 percent reservation for women

The 35 per cent reservation extended to women on posts of police constable would now be extended to cover other state government vacancies, too.

  1. This 35 per cent reservation for women will be applicable to in all government jobs including reserved and unreserved category.
  2. Presently state is already providing 35 percent reservation for women in recruitment as police constables and sub-inspectors.
  3. There is also 50 percent reservation for women as primary school teachers and in the Panchayati Raj system.
Jan, 14, 2016

What works for women at work

WCD ministry decision to increase maternity leave from the current 12 weeks to 26 weeks for all women is welcome.

  1. Establishments with 30 women workers or 50 total workers to provide crèche facilities for their employees.
  2. India has shockingly low rates of recognised work participation by women (around 24 per cent) that have even declined over the past decade.
  3. Huge economic loss for the country, a sign of the continuing low status of women and their lack of agency in Indian society.
  4. Most women in India are involved in unpaid work in their homes or communities which is socially necessary but unsung and unrewarded.
  5. Patriarchal attitudes, social restriction on mobility, concerns about commuting time and about security at work and the difficulties of managing domestic responsibilities along with the paid jobs are the other impediments.
  6. Address the huge issue of unpaid work, by recognising it ,reducing it, and redistributing it..
  7. Deal with concerns about women’s security, focus on education that reduces the number of female dropouts and improves quality.
  8. Work towards reducing the huge gender gaps in wages in most activities.
Jan, 11, 2016

Telangana becomes first State to make gender education compulsory

  1. Telangana has become the first State to introduce compulsory gender education at the graduate level.
  2. The book discusses gender in its composite form without limiting itself to crime against women.
  3. It also touches upon complex subjects like female-centric history and male-female relationships.
  4. The textbook has been introduced on a pilot basis in engineering colleges.
Jan, 07, 2016

Enhancement of representation of women in CAPFs

  1. The 33% reservation of Constable level posts will be in CRPF & CISF.
  2. 14-15% posts at Constable level will be reserved in border guarding forces i.e. BSF, SSB & ITBP.
  3. The Committee on Empowerment of Women in its Sixth Report of the (2010-11) had recommended urgent need to provide due representation to women in paramilitary forces.
  4. The CRPF, considered to be world’s largest paramilitary force mostly deployed in law and order duties and the anti-Naxal operations, has just around 6,300 women in its rank.
Dec, 29, 2015

Govt to increase maternity leave

  1. The union govt. is set to increase the maternity leave for women employed in private firms from the existing 12 weeks to 26 weeks.
  2. Govt. has taken into account the 6 months of breastfeeding that is required post childbirth.
  3. Currently, the women are entitled to 12 weeks of maternity benefit whereby employers are liable to pay full wages for the period of leave.
  4. However, women employed in govt. jobs in India get a 6-month maternity leave.
  5. The International Labour Organisation recommends a minimum standard maternity leave of 14 weeks or more.
Dec, 28, 2015

Devadasi system: Home Ministry asks States to take strong action

  1. MHA was surprised by findings that the ancient Devadasi system continues to exist in some parts of the country.
  2. Home Ministry has asked all States to take strong action against those involved in the heinous practice which is against dignity of women.
  3. It directed that the laws against it be implemented “in letter and spirit” and steps taken to ensure that the victims are rehabilitated.
  4. It still exists in certain parts of the country, especially in Beriya and Nat communities in the name of religious practices.
Nov, 28, 2015

Sexual harassment cases at workplace more than double in 2014

  1. A 3rd of India corporations and a 4th of global companies surveyed in the country were not compliant with Sexual Harassment Act 2013.
  2. The no. of sexual harassment complaints at workplace more than doubled to 526 in 2014.
  3. This could be devastating not only to the lives and careers of individual employees but also invariably weaken productivity and the morale of employees.
  4. Despite increased public awareness, sexual harassment continues to plague Indian workplaces.
Nov, 28, 2015

Devadasis: SC pulls up Centre for delay in response

  1. The SC expressed alarm at the govt’s delay in filing a response to a PIL petition against the practice of dedicating girls as Devadasis to temples.
  2. PIL says girls are forced into Devadasi system and pushed into prostitution.
  3. The court gave the Centre a 4-week deadline to come clear about what steps it had taken so far to end the social evil.
Nov, 27, 2015

33% quota for women in paramilitary forces

Union Home Minister told Parliament that the govt. was considering 33% reservation for women in the paramilitary forces.

  1. The announcement comes at a time when the forces are struggling to fill even the 5% quota decided during the UPA govt.
  2. According to the data available with the MHA, women comprise only 2.04% of the paramilitary forces.
  3. The implementation was the biggest hurdle, because the State govts may or may not agree with the Centre over this and the MHA will have no control over it.
Nov, 26, 2015

India Gate wears orange, to end violence against women

  1. India Gate was lit up in the orange colour to celebrate the International Day of Elimination of Violence against Women.
  2. The event was organised by UN agencies as part of the UN’s global campaign that is set to continue till UN’s Human Rights Day.
  3. UN aims to eliminate all kinds of violence against women and gender discrimination and seeks to end it by 2030.
  4. According to the UN, the colour orange is symbolic of a united fight to end violence against women.
  5. The event addressed issues like eve-teasing, dowry, acid attacks, child marriage, compulsory education for girl child and physical violence among others.
Nov, 06, 2015

Mizoram, Meghalaya have best gender parity across India, report says

McKinsey Global Institute’s (MGI) “The Power of Parity: Advancing Women Equality in India” report.

  1. Best gender parity in Mizoram, Meghalaya, Kerala, Goa, and Sikkim have been rated in line with Argentina, China, or Indonesia.
  2. Assam, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, and UP grouped as India’s bottom five states on gender parity.
  3. Top five states account for just 4 per cent of India’s female working-age population, Bottom five comprise a larger 32 per cent.
  4. Indian women face extremely high inequality, associated with physical security, autonomy and high inequality on child marriage.
  5. A new score, India Female Empowerment Index or Femdex, based on a sub-set of 10 of the 15 indicators at the state level in India.

Gender inequality in India is high and extremely on gender equality in work, legal protection and political voice, economic opportunity.

 

Oct, 24, 2015

Law on equal right for daughters over property is prospective

  1. Shouldn’t all laws be only prospectively enforceable?
  2. Yes, common sense would say and we do have a provision in the constitution for the same.
  3. Art. 20(1) of the Indian constitution imposes a limitation on the law making power of the constitution for criminal laws.
  4. But it does not prohibit a civil liability retrospectively i.e. with effect from a past date. So a tax can be imposed retrospectively.
  5. Hence, this is a specific call out by SC on the inheritance issue!

 

Now you get the context? Do remember that taxation law amendments can be retrospectively enforced!

Sep, 05, 2015

[Discuss] Women to get permanent commission in the Navy

The Delhi High Court said it would not allow “sexist bias” to block women’s progress.

  1. In a landmark judgment, the Delhi High Court on Friday allowed women to be granted permanent commission in the Navy, ensuring that women naval officers enjoyed rights similar to their counterparts in the Army and the Air Force.
  2. Allowing a bunch of writ petitions moved by a group of women naval officers, a Division Bench said since women were “here to stay” and since they worked shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts, the court would “frown upon any endeavour to restrain the progress of women”.
  3. As of now, Navy treated women officers as a group entitled only to a short service commission of 14 years and men were entitled to both short service and permanent commissions.
  4. The petitioners contended that they were losing out on career opportunities and had been deprived of pension because of the forced short service commission.

You think this step encourages women empowerment in India?
Can you list out some more steps taken which helps empower Women?

Aug, 03, 2015

Govt plans to close down Mahila Bank

  1. The finance ministry is expected to approach the Cabinet with a proposal to close Bharatiya Mahila Bank, (BMB) established in 2013.
  2. There were speculations of a merger between SBI & BMB but let’s wait and watch.
Jul, 05, 2015

Taking internet to rural women

  1. In a significant initiative aimed at bridging the technology gender divide, Tata Trusts have tied up with Google to launch ‘Internet Saathi’.
  2. The joint initiative announced today aims at empowering women in rural India with the power of the Internet so they may benefit from it in their daily lives.
Apr, 29, 2015

Bharatiya Mahila Bank wins Asian Banker Achievement Award 2015


 

  1. BMB is India’s first all-women public sector bank and was formally launched on November 19, 2013.
  2. Its objective is to focus on the banking needs of the women and promote economic empowerment.
  3. It also seeks to address the gender related issues and will be helpful in financial inclusion.
  4. In Budget 2013-14, Union Government had approved Rs 1,000-crore seed capital for the bank.
  5. Headquarter of Bharatiya Mahila Bank is located in New Delhi.
Apr, 01, 2015

Nirbhaya’s parents unveil women’s safety device

  1. The device called Bhavani – India’s first comprehensive portable self-defence device for women.
  2. The device is a 10×1 inch baton which can easily fit into a handbag.
  3. Features include – a strobe light, non-lethal stun gun, a 10 foot throw distance pepper spray, panic button which will send five SOS sms with GPS location.
  4. Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Yogpeeth has already agreed to distribute the device.
Mar, 30, 2015

UN SC resolution-1325 on women and peace and security

  1. UNSCR 1325 is a landmark international legal framework that addresses the inordinate impact of war on women + the pivotal role women play in conflict management + sustainable peace.
  2. The experiences of men & women in war are different. Women offer a vital perspective in the analysis of conflict.
  3. Resolution 1325 has 4 pillars – Participation, Protection, Prevention, and Relief and Recovery.
  4. How is it implemented? Through the development of National Action Plans (NAP) or other national level strategies.
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