Oct 22

Laws meant to help women


Free legal aid
Under the Legal Services Authorities Act 1987, all female rape victims have the right to free legal aid. “Whenever a rape victim is unable to hire a lawyer, it’s mandatory for the station house officer to inform the city’s legal services authority to arrange a lawyer for her,” says city based criminal lawyer Arnab Dutta.

Right to protect one’s identity
According to Section 228A IPC, all victims of sexual assault have the right to anonymity. Neither the media nor the police can force them to reveal their identity in public. Unpermitted publication of the identity can even lead to imprisonment for the publisher. Moreover, the victim can record her statement with a magistrate either alone or in presence of a lady police officer.

Women witnesses can’t be called to police stations
Indian women witnesses have the right to record a statement at home. Section 160 CrPC states that women cannot be called over to police stations for interrogation. “If a woman is a witness, she can choose to record her statement at her own residence in presence of a lady police officer,” says criminal lawyer Kaushik Dey.

No arrests at night
According to Supreme Court ruling, a woman cannot be arrested between sunset and sunrise. This was the result of a rising number of police harassment complaints by women.However, if the woman in question is wanted for a serious crime, police can make an arrest with a special permission from a magistrate.

Right to maternity leave
The Maternity Benefit Act 1961 ensures 12 weeks of paid leave for a mother, taken before or after the delivery. However, it allows a maximum six weeks of leave before delivery.

Right to equal wage
The principle, equal pay for equal work, holds good for any working women. According to the Equal Remuneration Act 1976, no organization can discriminate between men and women doing similar work or having same designation visa-vis recruitment or pay.

Safety at the workplace
Any workplace with more than 10 employees is duty-bound to create a Sexual Harassment Complaints Committee. According to Supreme Court’s Vishakha Guidelines, the presence of such committee is mandatory and it must be headed by a woman.

Email can be considered a FIR

If a woman is unable to visit a police station to lodge a complaint, she has the privilege of doing so by sending an email or registered letter to a senior officer. “The concerned officer then instructs the station house officer to verify it with the complainant and lodge an FIR,” Kaushik tells us.