Important Legal Rights for Women in India:
Updated: Oct 17
Although, They are various laws and acts that deal with safeguarding rights and interest of women from workspace, marriage, legal matters and other areas. Many people aren’t familiar with these laws due to a lack of awareness and aren’t able to take legal remedies.
Free Legal Aid: Under Section 12 (c) of the Legal Services Authorities Act , Women are entitled for free legal services. Irrespective of their financial status and income.
Unsolicited message and texts: Sec 67A of the Information Technology Act, whoever publishes or sends or transfers any obscene materials like photos, videos or text in electronic form shall be punished with imprisonment of upto 5 years and a fine of up to 5 lakh rupees. If he repeats the act for a second time, he shall be punished for up to 7 years and a fine of up to 10 lakh rupees. Also Watch: Information Technology Act 2000 I IT Act in India
Equal Property Rights: Under The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005. Daughters have equal rights of inheritance as sons to their father's property and they also have a share in the mother's property. Also Read: What is Hindu Succession Act | Intestate Wills
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013: Also know as POSH Act is applicable to every workplace, establishment, company or organization employing 10 or more employees who are working as full time, part time, interns or consultants irrespective of its location or nature of industry across India. It aims at providing a safe workplace for women and on imposing the employers with the responsibility to ensure a safe working environment. Also Read: Validity of POSH Act at Remote Workspace
Maternity Leaves: According to the Maternity Benefit Act 2017, female workers are entitled to 26 weeks of maternity leave. This benefit could be availed by women for a period extending up to a maximum of 8 weeks before the expected delivery date and the remaining time can be availed after childbirth. To be eligible under this Act, the female employee should have been working in the current establishment for a period of at least 80 days within the past 12 months.
Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman: Sexual Harassment (Sec 509 IPC), Whoever, intending to insult the modesty of a woman, utters any word, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object, intending that such gestures or object shall be seen, by such woman, or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description.
Molestation (Sec 354 IPC): Whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any woman, intending to outrage or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby outrage her modesty, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
The Dowry Prohibition Act 1961: The act intends to prevent the giving or receiving of a dowry. It is applicable to all religions in India. Asking for or giving of dowry can be punished by imprisonment of up to six months, a fine of up to Rs. 15,000 or the amount of dowry (whichever is higher), or imprisonment up to 5 years.
Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005: The act aims to protect women from Domestic violence. Domestic violence is not limited to physical abuse, but other forms of violence too such as sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse and economic abuse. This act is not restricted to husband and wife relationship, but also to other relationship where the person is in domestic relationship with the party. Such as Parties by marriage (husband and wife, father in law and mother in law), Parties by blood (brother, father), Adopted Parents and Live in relationships.
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act: It deals with procedures for termination of certain pregnancies. The Act require abortion to be performed only by doctors with specialisation in gynaecology or obstetrics. As part of the amendment in 2021, Women can terminate pregnancy up to 20 weeks on the advice of one doctor and special categories of women (survivors of sexual abuse, minors, victims of rape, incest, differently abled women) can seek termination up to 24 weeks. Moreover, women/couples can seek termination of pregnancy, anytime during the gestation period for foetal anomalies, as diagnosed by the Medical Boards. The MTP Act earlier permitted termination of the pregnancy by only a married woman in the case of failure of a contraceptive method or device. With the amendment act of 2021, unmarried women can now seek safe abortion services on grounds of contraceptive failure. A registered medical practitioner may only reveal the details of a woman whose pregnancy has been terminated to a person authorized by law. Violation is punishable with imprisonment up to a year, a fine, or both.
Arresting of a female: No woman shall be arrested after sunset and before suise, except in exceptional circumstances and that too after obtaining the prior permission of the judicial magistrate. Only a female police officer can conduct any body search. The search should be carried out in a decent manner. During the time of arrest, there should be a presence of a female police officer to carry out the arrest of the individual. Also Read: Legal Rights for an accused during the Arrest