Women have taken the centre stage by gradually moving into the workforce and getting career-oriented. However, mental, physical and sexual harassment, misogyny and gender inequality continue to be a way of life for most of them. The rights available to woman in India can be classified into two categories, namely as constitutional rights and legal rights. The constitutional rights are those which are provided in the various provisions of the constitution. The legal rights, on the other hand, are those which are provided in the various laws of the Parliament and the State Legislatures.
1. Right to equal pay: Equal Remuneration Act (1976) provides for payment of equal remuneration to both men and women workers for same work or work of a similar nature. It also prevents discrimination on the ground of sex, against women in recruitment and service conditions.
2. Right against harassment at workplace: Sexual Harassment of Wome at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, provides protection to women from sexual harassment at all workplaces both in public and private sector, whether organised or unorganized.
3. Right to anonymity: Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, is the premier legislation for prevention of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation. In other words, it prevents trafficking in women and girls for the purpose of prostitution as an organised means of living. Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986 prohibits indecent representation of women through advertisements or in publications, writings, paintings, figures or in any other manner.
4. Rights against exploitation: Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, is a comprehensive legislation to protect women in India from all forms of domestic violence. It also covers women who have been/are in a relationship with the abuser and are subjected to violence of any kind—physical, sexual, mental, verbal or emotional.
5. Right to maternity, medical and employment related benefits: Maternity Benefit Act (1961) regulates the employment of women in certain establishments for certain period before and after child-birth and provides for maternity benefit and certain other benefits. Equal Remuneration Act (1976) provides for payment of equal remuneration to both men and women workers for same work or work of a similar nature. It also prevents discrimination on the ground of sex, against women in recruitment and service conditions.
6. Right against female foeticide: Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, provides for the termination of certain pregnancies by registered medical practitioners on humanitarian and medical grounds. Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994, prohibits sex selection before or after conception and prevents the misuse of pre-natal diagnostic techniques for sex determination leading to female foeticide.
7. Right to free legal aid: Legal Services Authorities Act (1987) provides free legal services to Indian women. It is mandatory for the Station House Office (SHO) to inform the legal service authorities to arrange for a lawyer.
8. Right not to be arrested at night: A woman cannot be arrested after sunset and before sunrise except in exceptional cases on orders on First Class Magistrate.
9. Right to dignity and decency: It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women [Article 51-A(e)].
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The following other legislation also consist of certain rights and safeguards for women: