Crimes against Women and Children: Domestic Violence, Sexual Harassment the work place, the protection of children from sexual offenses Act 2012, Laws related to child labour.

Domestic Violence

―Violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women.‖ The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, General Assembly Resolution, December 1993.

Domestic violence is one of the most common crimes against women which is inextricably linked to the perpetuation of patriarchy. Domestic violence refers to violence against women not only in matrimonial homes but also in live-in relationship. Domestic violence is recognized as the significant barrier in the path of women empowerment and also skews the democratic set up of the polity. India has specifically legislated Domestic Violence Act in 2005 to reduce the violence against women but the same has bore mixed result as of now.

Domestic Violence: The term domestic violence includes elaborately all forms of actual abuse or threat of abuse of physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and economic nature that can harm, cause injury to, endanger the health, safety, life, limb or well-being, either mental or physical of the aggrieved person. The definition is wide enough to cover child sexual abuse, harassment caused to a woman or her relatives by unlawful dowry demands, and marital rape.

Domestic violence can be physical, emotional, psychological, financial, or sexual. Being victimized by a situation of domestic violence can create feelings of helplessness and even self-doubt.

Physical abuse includes:

 pushing, throwing, kicking

 slapping, grabbing, hitting, punching, beating, tripping, battering, bruising, choking, shaking

 pinching, biting

 holding, restraining, confinement

 breaking bones

 assault with a weapon such as a knife or gun

 burning

 murder

Verbal or nonverbal abuse of a spouse or intimate partner may include:

 threatening or intimidating to gain compliance

 destruction of the victim‘s personal property and possessions, or threats to do so

 violence to an object (such as a wall or piece of furniture) or pet, in the presence of the intended victim, as

 a way of instilling fear of further violence

 yelling or screaming

 name-calling

 constant harassment

 embarrassing, making fun of, or mocking the victim, either alone within the household, in public, or in front of family or friends

 criticizing or diminishing the victim‘s accomplishments or goals

 not trusting the victim‘s decision-making

 telling the victim that they are worthless on their own, without the abuser

 excessive possessiveness, isolation from friends and family

 excessive checking-up on the victim to make sure they are at home or where they said they would be saying hurtful things while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and using the substance as an excuse to say the hurtful things

 blaming the victim for how the abuser acts or feels

 making the victim remain on the premises after a fight, or leaving them somewhere else after a fight, just to ―teach them a lesson‖

 making the victim feel that there is no way out of the relationship

Sexual abuse includes:

 sexual assault: forcing someone to participate in unwanted, unsafe, or degrading sexual activity

 sexual harassment: ridiculing another person to try to limit their sexuality or reproductive choices sexual exploitation (such as forcing someone to look at pornography, or forcing someone to participate in pornographic film-making)

Basic Features of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005

  1. Apart from the victim herself, the complaint regarding an act or act of domestic violence can also be lodged by ‗any person who has a reason to believe that‘ such an act was committed or is being committed. This

means that neighbors, social workers, relatives can also take initiative. And the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act make sure that ‗no criminal, civil or any other liability‘ lies on the informer, if the complaint is lodged in good faith.

  1. The magistrate has been given powers to permit the aggrieved women to stay in her place of adobe and she can not be evicted by her male relatives in the retaliation.
  2. The respondent can be prohibited from dispossessing the aggrieved person or in any other manner disturbing her possessions, entering the aggrieved person‘s place of work, if the aggrieved person is a child, the school. Also magistrate can bar the respondent to communicate with aggrieved person by ―personal, oral, written, electronic or telephonic contact.‖
  3. The magistrate can impose monthly payments of maintenance. The respondent can also be ordered to meet the expenses incurred and losses suffered by the aggrieved person and any child of aggrieved person as a result of domestic violence. It can also cover loss of earnings, medical expenses, loss or damage to property. Under Sec 22 magistrate can make the respondent pay compensation and damages for injuries including mental torture and emotional distress caused by act(s) of domestic violence.
  4. Penalty up to one-year and/or a fine up to Rs. 20,000/- can be imposed under under the act. The offence is also considered cognizable and non-bailable while Sec 32 (2) goes even says that ‗under the sole testimony of the aggrieved person, the court may conclude that an offence has been committed by the accused‖.
  5. The act ensures speedy justice as the court has to start proceedings and have the first hearing within 3 days of the complaint being filed in the court and every case must be disposed off within a period of sixty days of the first hearing.
  6. The act makes provisions for state to provide for protection officers and status of ‗service providers‘ and ‗medical facility‘.
  7. Chapter 4 Sec 16 allows the magistrate to hold proceedings in camera ―if either party to the proceedings so desires‖.

Sexual Harassment the work place

Sexual harassment at the workplace has been one of the central concerns of the women‘s movement in India since the ‘80s. In 1997, the Supreme Court passed a landmark judgment in the Vishakha case laying down guidelines to be followed by establishments in dealing with complaints about sexual harassment. The court stated that these guidelines were to be implemented until legislation is passed to deal with the issue/ Sexual harassment includes such unwelcome sexually determined behaviour (whether directly or by implication) as:

  1. a) Physical contact and advances;
  2. b) A demand or request for sexual favours;
  3. c) Sexually coloured remarks;
  4. d) Showing pornography;
  5. e) Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature

Complaints mechanism

  • All workplaces should have an appropriate complaints mechanism with a complaints committee, special counsellor or other support services.
  • A woman must head the complaints committee and no less than half its members should be women

. • The committee should include an NGO/individual familiar with the issue of sexual harassment.

  • The complaints procedure must be time-bound.
  • Confidentiality must be maintained.
  • Complainants/witnesses should not experience victimisation/discrimination during the process.

Preventive steps

  • Sexual harassment should be affirmatively discussed at workers‘ meetings, employer-employee meetings, etc.
  • Guidelines should be prominently displayed to create awareness about the rights of female employees.
  • The employer should assist persons affected in cases of sexual harassment by outsiders.
  • Central and state governments must adopt measures, including

legislation, to ensure that private employers also observe the guidelines. • Names and contact numbers of members of the complaints committee must be prominently displayed.

Employers‘ responsibilities

  • Recognise sexual harassment as a serious offence.
  • Recognise the responsibility of the company/ factory/workplace to prevent and deal with sexual harassment at the workplace.
  • Recognise the liability of the company, etc, for sexual harassment by the employees or management. Employers are not necessarily insulated from that liability because they were not aware of sexual harassment by staff.
  • Formulate an anti-sexual harassment policy.

The protection of children from sexual offenses Act 2012

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act), was enacted to protect children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography and to provide a childfriendly system for the trial of these offences. The Act provides for seven specific sexual offences against children and stipulates child-friendly legal procedures that must be adhered to during investigation and trial. Under the POCSO Act, the term ―child‖ has been defined to mean ―any person below the age of eighteen years‖ . The Act does not recognize sexual autonomy of children in any form. Children can also be held liable for committing sexual offences under the Act. As a result, sexual interactions or intimacies among or with children below the age of 18 years constitute an offence.

The aims and objectives of this Act were:

 To secure a child‘s right to safety, security and protection from sexual abuse.

 To protect children from inducement or coercion to sexual activity

 To prevent exploitative use of children in prostitution and generation of pornographic material.

 To provide a comprehensive legislation to safeguard the interest of a child at every stage – reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and trial of offences.

 To provide for establishment of special courts for sensitive and speedy trial

It made the law gender neutral and brought within its purview sexual assault of both girls and boys below the age of 18 years. It also widened the definition of sexual violence beyond the conventional peno-vaginal penetration to include crimes which did not amount to rape under the IPC. It also prescribed stringent punishment and many procedural safety measures to protect the child during investigation and trial.

Laws related to child labour.

Constitution of India contains provisions for survival, development and protection of children; these are mainly included in Part III and Part IV of the Constitution, i.e., fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy. India follows pro-active policy towards tackling child labour problem. The concern for children in general and child labour in particular is reflected through the Articles of the Constitution of India.

 Article 23 prohibits traffic in human being and begar and other similar forms of forced labour.

 Article 24 it has laid down that ―no child under the age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment‖.

 Article 39(e) and (f) requires the State and secure that the tender age of children are not abused and to ensure that they are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited in their age or strength. Those children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.

 Article 45 provides, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of 14 years.

 Article 51A(k) makes it a fundamental duty of the parent or Guardian to provide opportunities for education to the child or ward between the age of 6 and 14 years.

 Art. 21-A recognizes that the Right to Education as fundamental right and it mandates that, the state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of age of six to fourteen years in such manner as the state may, by law, determine.

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986

Several of legislations were enacted since 1881 for progressively extending legal protection to the working children. Provisions relating to child labour under various legislations have concentrated mainly on aspects such as minimizing working hours, increasing minimum age and prohibition of employment of children in occupation and processes detrimental to the health and welfare of children of tender age.

Main Provisions of the Bill are:-

(1) Ban the employment of children, i.e. those who have not completed their fourteenth year in specified occupations and processes;

(2) Lay down a procedure to decide modifications to the schedule of banned occupations or processes;

(3) Regulate the conditions of work of children engaged in forms of employment in which they are permitted to work;

(4) Prescribe enhanced penalties for employment of children in violation of the provisions of this Act and other Acts that forbid the employment of children

(5) Establish uniformity in the definition of child in laws concerning them.

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