Women and Criminal Law

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The concept of equality requires equity to prevail. However, the history of social development is itself the past of inequality - between countries, race, culture, class, caste, faiths and sexual orientation. In between this chaos, the issue of women's rights reveals itself most prominently, cutting through all the stratums of social arrangement. In this regard, it is pertinent to quote German philosopher and social scientist Friedrich Engels who, in his classical writing 'Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State' very aptly stated that, 'Woman was the first human being that tasted bondage. Woman was a slave before slavery existed'. Milestones like the Suffragette Movement and gaining the right to vote, to employment rights, property rights, rights governing divorce and marriage to child-care and medicine is the paved way of feminist struggle through the years, all for the achievement of equality in its broadest sense.

It would not be getting too far ahead of ourselves if we note that legislation based on equal rights affects the very values of society, impacting not just the way we vote, but the way we work, live and function as a family, the way we access education, healthcare and justice. The guarantee that the Constitution of India provides of equal rights to women, is often inconsistent with the harsh reality of the Indian society and the effect of its cultural ‘rules, regulations and guidelines.’ Women in India, who were held in quite high regard in the Vedic ages till pretty much towards the end of the Mughal empire, had to begin their struggle for equality afresh in the 20th century, during the quest for independence from colonialism as their condition had only gotten worse in the 200 years of British rule. Suppressed by evils such as the practices of ‘Sati’, deprivation of right to education and inheritance rights, and ‘child-marriage’ for a prolonged period of time, they tried to emerge as strong individuals once more, led by western educated leaders like B.R. Ambedkar, Mahatma Gandhi, Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Savitribai Phule. These individuals, amongst others like Ishwarchand Vidyasagar and Mahadevi Verma encouraged women to step out and away from the constraints of the four-walls of the house that they had been bound into for years and enter the public sphere in the fight for Independence, for starters. All Indian ideals, tenets, nationalism and cultural heritage were glorified through the allusion of 'Mother India'.

It was through abovementioned channels that perhaps for the first time in modern, independent India, the idea that a woman is part of the larger Indian tapestry as a legal citizen, took root. The post-colonial modern era in India can be pointed out by sweeping changes such as neo-liberal policies and globalization which has resulted in the leaps and bounds in technological development. Further increase in the quorum of women participants engaged in public spheres like business enterprises, international platforms, multi-national careers like advertising and fashion, finds its base in the better opportunities which have originated from the free movement of goods, capital and ideas. These ideas often question the nature of prevailing laws - for instance, do rights by themselves in their existence guarantee justice; has our legal system kept up with social change; and other such related issues. The current spate of women centric legal reform in India needs to be examined from various perspectives.

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When direct or indirect cruelty, whether mental or physical, is inflicted on women, it is a crime against them. Each day, a woman stands at a risk of being a victim of seemingly small but heinous crimes such as are eve-teasing, molestation, bigamy, fraudulent marriage, enticement of married women, abduction and kidnapping, rape, harassment at their workplace, domestic violence, dowry death, female infant and child abuse and abuse of elderly female etc. Almost every woman has very unfortunately, have had to gain a tolerance towards the feeling of being mistreated, trivialized, kept out, put down, ignored, assaulted, laughed at or discriminated against because of her gender, having experienced it regularly . If women are to implement their preferences, rights and freedoms, then it is essential that their empowerment occur not only within their personal spheres, but also in the broader spheres of the community and the state .

The National Crime Records Bureau of India had notified that the reported occurrences of crime and offences against women augmented by 6.4% in 2012, which boiled down to the fact that a crime against women is committed every 3 minutes .

Taking a serious note of public criticism and the inadequacy of the law of crimes against women manifested in a number of judgements of the Apex Court and the nation’s failure to safeguard the rights of the innocent victims of those heinous crimes against humanity, it became pertinent to make serious amendments to the criminal law of the country. In light of the abovementioned startling facts and figures which were made public, the Justice Verma Committee was formed. In its report, this Committee suggested certain comprehensive amendments to be introduced in the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 materialised these suggestions by introducing several new provisions defining newer crimes against woman and introducing penalties for the same, and increasing some existing penalties.

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Women and Criminal Law. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 18, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/women-and-criminal-law/
“Women and Criminal Law.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/women-and-criminal-law/
Women and Criminal Law. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/women-and-criminal-law/> [Accessed 18 Apr. 2024].
Women and Criminal Law [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 15 [cited 2024 Apr 18]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/women-and-criminal-law/
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