March 14, 2022

#CauseAChatter: 5 laws every woman should know about

When it comes to women’s liberation, we have come a long way from our predecessors. However, even in the 21st century, the position of women in society is not at par with their male counterpart. 

It is a continuous struggle, this fight for equal rights, for an equal footing in all spheres of life.

Statistics reveal women in cities are much more informed about their rights than those in villages and rural areas. However, it is a common mistake/myth to presume ‘education’ means ‘awareness’. A large percentage of educated people in society ignore the obvious.  

Three out of five women will not be aware of the legal rights she possesses only because she is confident she will never need to make use of them. 

It is this very ignorance which eventually becomes the major cause of long term vulnerability and feelings of isolation. Feeling the dearth of options, they tend to stay on in abusive relationships, in toxic work environments, in derogatory without complaining, silently suffering. 

Of course, add to that, the ‘log kya kahenge?’ anxiety that is  instilled in us from birth. The society caters to certain stereotypes that are more rigid when it comes to women. The woman is also the first one to be pointed fingers at. This gender discrimination needs to change at the grass root level in order to bring about positive change.

But here, I am reminded of a wise saying. Quoting Rumi, “Yesterday, I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today, I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

By changing ourselves, I mean, we as women need to become stronger. Exercise more resilience. Break the bias we are magically expecting society to improve upon.  

We need to free ourselves of the shackles we are bound in. The first step towards becoming stronger is to eliminate that which is making us weak. We should learn how to fight adversity head on. Ergo, it is important to be aware of our legal rights.

So without wasting much time, let’s get started. Here are the top five important rights every girl/woman needs to know and remember:

1)    Right to virtual complaints: If, for some reason, a woman is unable to visit the police station to file a complaint or lodge an FIR, she has every right to do so via email or registered post. The email or registered post has to be addressed to the Deputy Commissioner or Commissioner of Police.

2)    Right to no arrest before 6am and after 6 pm: Section 160 CPC provides Indian women the right to not be physically present at the police station for interrogation. Moreover, a woman arrested before sunrise and after sunset have the right to refuse going to the police station even in the company of a female police officer/constable. If at all she has committed a serious crime, the police must get a written order from the magistrate why the arrest is urgently required during the odd hours. 

3)    Right to free legal aid: Under this provision, a woman has the right to get free legal help from the Legal Services Authority. Homemakers who have no source of income can approach the court the state will arrange for a lawyer and provide all legal services free of cost. This is particularly helpful for those women who are caught up in bad marriages, custody matters etc. The woman in this case has every right to apply for protection order, custody order, monetary relief, residence order, and even compensation order.

4)    Law against domestic abuse: Protective not just against physical abuse but against psychological and emotional abuse as well, this law protects women from violence within the relationships by marriage (eg husband-wife, DIL-FIL/MIL), relationships by blood (daughter-father, sister-brother), relationships by adoption (adopted daughter-father), and relationships in the nature of marriage (live-in relationships) as well.

5)    Right to equal pay: This means an employer should give equal pay to workers who do the same work, irrespective of their gender. However, the disparity in work pay between men and women has been on since time immemorial. has been the bone of contention in every work environment. Even in the film industry, women are paid much less than their male counterparts. It’s high time we broke the bias and issued credibility on the basis of potential and not on the basis of gender. 

In addition to these five pertinent rights, the judicial system of India has set other laws like law against dowry, law against female foeticide etc so that no woman feels alone and unsafe. 

I end here with a shout out to all young girls out there: We, as women, are taught the meaning of tolerance far more than rebellion. We are told that a ‘good’ woman is one who will never raise her voice or cause a chatter fight. That standing ‘alone’ means being defeated. We are taught to practice our duties but never to exercise our rights. And unintentionally, we become complicit with society in strengthening its patriarchy. 

Don’t be the underdog just because you are a woman. Know your rights and claim them. Speak out. Loud and clear. Stand up for what you believe in. Even when alone. The others will eventually join in.


This post is part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter.               

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