Knowledge equals empowerment so as a woman surviving in today’s world where your safety could be compromised anywhere, you should be aware of how the legal system can back you up. Protesting on the streets and online protests like #MeToo may be a way to create awareness and report incidents but understanding of the legal roadmap in cases of crime against women is a necessity. Legal expert Indrani Lahiri of Kochhar & Co. talked to HerZindagi about the Nirbhaya case and women’s safety laws and here are the insights she had to offer.

The Landmark Nirbhaya Case

With a spate in the number of sexual assaults and rape cases in the country coming to light every day, the media coverage thereof has also been growing manifold. The Nirbhaya case, where four of the accused were convicted for the murder of Nirbhaya who was raped and tortured on a bus in New Delhi jolted the Indian masses and forced the country to confront the menace of sexual violence in the society at large. The case has reverberated with thousands of Indians who came out on the streets to express their anguish and rage after the incident. It shook the conscience of the people of the country and the requirement of laws, safety measures for women and their effective implementation resonates even today despite the Government taking steps and bringing in laws to prevent and redress such happenings. The Nirbhaya case still reminds us of the vulnerability which is prevalent in our society today for women not only in the rural areas but in the capital of the country and across the world as well.

No matter how many laws, rules and regulations are brought in force or how many safety measures are implemented, real positive change in the society can be brought in only by the change in the mindset of the people. Respect for one another irrespective of gender needs to be inculcated right from childhood by parents, peers, teachers alike to bring about a sustained change in outlook towards women and alleviating the issue.

Read More: 6th Anniversary Of Nirbhaya-Learn Self Defence, Be Self Sufficient!

A Look At Women's Safety Laws

womens safety laws

  • On December 9, 2013, The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (POSH Act) was passed by the Government for the protection of women in the workplace and for redressal of her grievances. The POSH Act mandates employer of every workplace having ten or more workers to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) for receiving complaints of sexual harassment from women working in the organization and to conduct a fair inquiry as per procedure laid down in the POSH act and provide effective redressal to the woman.
  • On February 3, 2013, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013 was promulgated which provided for amendments to the Indian Penal Code, Indian Evidence Act, and Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, on laws related to sexual offences. Certain Sections that were introduced by this amendment were:
    • Sections 326 A and 326 B (relating to voluntarily causing grievous hurt by use of acid or attempting to do so);
    • Section 354A which defined what constituted sexual harassment - showing pornography against the will of a woman, a demand for sexual favours, physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures.
    • Section 354(B) dealing with assault or use of criminal force to women to disrobe; Section 354 (C) relating to the offence of Voyeurism which deals with capturing the images of a women in a private act in circumstances where she would usually have the expectation of not being observed;
    • Section 354 (D) relating to Stalking;  
    • Section 376(A) was introduced which provides for punishment with rigorous imprisonment (to a man who has committed the offence of Rape) for at least 20 years, which may extend to life imprisonment or with death for causing death or persistent vegetative state of the victim.   
  • The Indecent representation of women (Prohibition) Act, 1986 inter-alia prohibits any person from publishing, or arranging or exhibition any advertisement which contains indecent representation of women in any form. It also prohibits publication or sending by post of books, pamphlets, etc. containing indecent representation of women.
  • The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 inter-alia prohibits the giving and taking of dowry directly or indirectly from the parents, relatives or guardian of a bride or bridegroom. 
  • The Protection of women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 provides for protection of the rights of women under the Constitution who are victims of violence occurring within the family.

To read more on women’s issues, women’s empowerment, women’s NGOs, women’s safety apps, career and education tips, keep reading HerZindagi and #BeSmart.

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