The government of India has taken several measures for the protection of women. There are several constitutional safeguards as well.
The Indian Constitution not only guarantees women’s equality but also gives the State the authority to take positive discriminatory measures in its favour in order to reduce the cumulative burden of socioeconomic, educational, and political disadvantages that women faced.
Fundamental Rights related to the Protection of Women
Article 14 confers on men and women equal rights and opportunities in the political, economic and social spheres.
Article 15 prohibits discrimination against any citizen on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex etc.,
Article 15(3) makes a special provision enabling the State to make affirmative discrimination in favour of women. Similarly,
Article 16 provides for equality of opportunities in matters of public appointments for all citizens.
Directive Principles of State Policy
Article 39(a) further mentions that the State shall direct its policy towards securing to all citizens men and women, equally, the right to means of livelihood,
Article 39(c) ensures equal pay for equal work.
Article 42 directs the State to make provisions for ensuring just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief.
Legislative Measures for the Protection of Women
To uphold the Constitutional mandate, the State has enacted various legislative measures intended to ensure equal rights, counter social discrimination and various forms of violence and atrocities and also to provide support services, especially to working women.
The crimes which are directed specifically against women are characterized as ‘Crimes Against Women’ These are broadly classified under two categories:
The crimes identified under the Indian Penal Code (IPC):
- Rape (sec.376 IPC)
- Kidnapping & abduction for different purposes (sec.363-373 IPC)
- Homicide for Dowry, Dowry Deaths or their attempts (sec.302/304-B of IPC)
- Torture, both mental and physical (sec.498-A of IPC)
- Molestation (sec.354 of IPC)
- Sexual harassment (sec.509 of IPC) (referred to in the past as Eve-teasing)
- Importation of girls (up to 21 years of age) (sec.366-B of IPC)
The crimes identified under the Special laws, such as :
- Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987
- Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
- Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986
- Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956
- Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
Government Measures for the Protection of Women
The government has taken several measures for the protection of women:
Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
The act provides for more effective protection of the rights of women guaranteed under the Constitution who are victims of violence of any kind occurring within the family and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
National Commission for Women (NCW)
National Commission for Women (NCW) is a statutory body set up by the Government of India. The commission is mandated to study and monitor all matters relating to the Constitutional and legal safeguards provided to women; review the existing legislations to suggest amendments wherever necessary, and look into complaints involving the deprivation of the rights of women. All the state governments also have to set up State Commissions for Women (SCW) with similar functions.
“Mission Shakti” is a programme in a mission mode that aims to improve interventions for women’s empowerment, safety, and security. The plan aims to economically empower women and provide them with the freedom to make their own decisions about their bodies and minds in a setting free from abuse and threat. Encouraging skill development, capacity building, financial literacy, access to microcredit, etc., it also aims to lessen the burden of care on women and enhance their involvement in the labour force.
‘Swadhar Greh Scheme
The “Swadhar Greh Scheme” is being implemented by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. The programme meets the basic requirements of women in precarious situations, including those who have lost their homes due to family strife, crime, violence, mental stress, social isolation, or who are being coerced into prostitution and are in danger. The programme strives to economically and emotionally rehabilitate such women by offering them shelter, food, clothing, counselling, training, clinical assistance, and legal aid.
Sakhi – One-Stop Centres
The One Stop Center (OSC) Scheme is also carried out by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. These OSCs offer a variety of integrated services, including police facilitation, medical assistance, legal assistance, counselling, psycho-social counselling, and temporary shelter, to women who have experienced violence or who are in need.
Legal Services Authorities (LSA) Act
In order to ensure that no citizen is denied the opportunity to obtain justice due to economic or other disabilities, the Legal Services Authorities (LSA) Act, 1987 provides free and competent legal services to beneficiaries covered by Section 12 of the Act, including women and children. It also establishes Lok Adalats to ensure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on the basis of equal opportunities.
In order to train the staff of One Stop Centers (OSCs) across the nation on how to handle psycho-social and mental health care needs to support women facing violence and women in distress, the Ministry of Women and Child Development has engaged with the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru.
Digital Shakti Campaign
The Digital Shakti Campaign is a pan-Indian initiative run by the National Commission for Women with the goal of empowering and educating women and girls digitally. In keeping with its promise to establish safe spaces for women and girls online, Digital Shakti is concentrated on empowering women to confront any inappropriate or criminal behaviour online.
As a Centrally Sponsored Scheme for the Prevention of Trafficking and for the Rescue, Rehabilitation, Re-integration, and Repatriation of Victims of Trafficking for Commercial Sexual Exploitation, the Ujjawala Scheme is now being implemented.
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao initiative is being implemented through multi-sectoral intervention in all the districts of the country. This is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Women & Child Development, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and Department of School Education & Literacy, Ministry of Education.
The objectives of this initiative are:
- Prevention of gender-biased sex-selective elimination
- Ensuring survival & protection of the girl child
- Ensuring education and participation of the girl child
Women and girls are frequently the victims of violence and abuse on the streets, in transit, and in other public settings. Such incidents limit women’s freedom of movement and discourage them from moving freely and in the public locations of their choice.
As a result, the government established the Nirbhaya Fund, a special fund that can be used for initiatives aimed at enhancing women’s protection and security. It is a non-lapsable corpus fund that is managed by the Ministry of Finance’s Department of Economic Affairs.
A one-time assistance of Rs. 200 crores from the Nirbhaya Fund was given to States and Union Territories as a top-up grant to support their various Victim Compensation Schemes.
The below standard funding pattern will be followed:
- 60:40 for all States
- 90:10 for States with difficult terrains
- 100% for UTs
- Few initiatives are 100% funded
Article Written By: Priti Raj