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Feminist Jurisprudence and Laws Every Working Women in India Should Know

Synopsis

In India, working women have to deal with discrimination and sexual harassment at the workplace on a regular basis. To top it all, there are very few laws that protect them. But things are slowly changing, thanks to the rise of feminist jurisprudence in India. In this article, we will take a look at some of the most important laws every working woman in India should know. 

What Is Feminist Jurisprudence?

Feminist jurisprudence is a field of study that critiques and analyzes law from a feminist perspective. It encompasses a wide range of issues, including gender discrimination, reproductive rights, domestic violence, and sexual harassment.

Feminist jurisprudence often challenges the assumption that the law is neutral and objective. Instead, it argues that the law is deeply embedded in patriarchal values and structures. As such, it can be used to perpetuate gender inequality.

Feminist jurisprudence has played a key role in shaping laws and policies related to gender equality. For instance, it was instrumental in the passage of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 in India. This act provides protection to women from sexual harassment at their workplaces.

Feminist jurisprudence is an important tool for working women in India as it helps them understand how the law can be used to challenge and change existing structures of inequality.

Laws Protecting Women in India

In India, there are a number of laws that protect women in the workplace. The Constitution of India provides for equality between men and women, and the Supreme Court has interpreted this to include protection from discrimination and sexual harassment.

The Indian Penal Code contains several provisions that specifically protect women from violence and sexual assault. For example, section 354A protects women from sexual harassment, while section 375 defines rape and prescribes penalties for offenders.

There are also a number of labour laws that protect the rights of women workers. The Equal Remuneration Act prohibits discrimination in wages between men and women workers doing the same or similar work. The Maternity Benefit Act provides paid leave to pregnant women and new mothers. And the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act prohibits sexual harassment of women in the workplace and sets out procedures for dealing with complaints.

These are just some of the laws that protect women in India. By knowing your rights and using them when necessary, you can help create a safer and more equitable workplace for all.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 is a groundbreaking law that provides protection to women against sexual harassment at workplace. The Act defines sexual harassment as any unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature that creates an intimidating, offensive or hostile working environment for women. It covers all workplaces, whether public or private, including offices, factories, shops, hospitals and educational institutions.

The Act lays down certain responsibilities on employers to prevent and redress instances of sexual harassment at workplace. Employers are required to provide a safe working environment for women and take prompt action on complaints of sexual harassment. They are also required to display a noticeboard specifying the procedure for filing a complaint under the Act.

The Complaints Committee set up under the Act must have at least 50% women members, and must be headed by a woman. The Committee has the power to investigate complaints of sexual harassment and recommend appropriate action to the employer.

Victims of sexual harassment can file a complaint with the Complaints Committee either directly or through their employer. They can also approach the police in case of criminal offences such as rape, assault or stalking.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 is a significant step towards ensuring gender equality and protecting the rights of women at workplace. It is imperative that all working women are aware of their rights under this Act. 

The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961

The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 is an Indian labour law that provides for paid maternity leave to women employees. The act applies to all establishments employing 10 or more workers. The act covers all women employed in such establishments, including daily wagers, ad hoc workers and those employed on contract.

The act entitles a pregnant woman employee to leave with full pay for a period of 12 weeks. This includes six weeks before and six weeks after the date of delivery. The woman employee is also entitled to leaves with half pay for a further period of six weeks in case of illness arising out of pregnancy or delivery.

The act also contains provisions for creches at or near the workplace and for nursing breaks during working hours. It prohibits discrimination against women employees on the ground of pregnancy or maternity and lays down penalties for contravention of its provisions.

The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976

The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 is an Act of the Parliament of India that seeks to prevent discrimination on the grounds of sex in the matter of payment of wages and remuneration. It applies to all establishments employing five or more persons. 

The Act prohibits employers from paying different wages to employees of different sexes performing work of equal value. The Equal Remuneration Act was enacted in response to the recommendations of the Second International Conference on Women held in Mexico City in 1975. 

The conference had urged member states to take measures to eliminate discrimination against women in employment, including the elimination of unequal pay for work of equal value.

GET EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT

In India, the principle of equal pay for equal work for both men and women has been enshrined in the Constitution since 1950. Article 39(d) of the Constitution directs the state to secure that there is no discrimination against any citizen on grounds only of sex in matters relating to employment or occupation. 

Article 14 guarantees equality before the law and equal protection of the laws for all citizens, irrespective of sex. However, these constitutional provisions were not implemented effectively and women continued to be paid less than men for doing similar work.

The Equal Remuneration Act was thus a much-needed legislation to ensure that women are not discriminated against in matters relating to their wages and salaries. The Act has been amended several times since its enactment, most recently in 2019, to make its provisions more stringent and effective.

The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986

The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986 is a law in India that prohibits the indecent representation of women through advertisement or in the media. The act was created to protect women’s dignity and to prevent them from being objectified and exploited.

The act defines ‘indecent representation of women’ as any depiction of a woman in a manner that is calculated to cause sexual excitement or condone or encourage violence against women. It includes any depiction of a woman’s body parts in a sexually suggestive manner, or any portrayal of a woman engaged in sexual activity.

The act prohibits the production, publication, sale, distribution, exhibition, and broadcast of indecent representations of women. It also requires that all forms of media comply with the standards set by the act.

The act has been criticized for its vague definition of ‘indecent representation’ and for its failure to address other forms of gender-based violence. However, it remains an important law that protects women’s dignity and safety.

The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961

The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 is an Act of the Parliament of India that prohibits the giving or taking of dowry. It was enacted to help prevent the practice of dowry, which is a cultural phenomenon in India. The act makes giving or taking of dowry a criminal offence.

Dowry is defined as any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly by one party to a marriage to the other party. The act applies to all citizens of India regardless of their religion, caste, or creed.

The act also provides for certain exceptions, such as gifts given at the time of a birth, marriage, or engagement. Additionally, presents received by either party from relatives or friends on occasions such as festivals are also exempt from this act.

Penalties for violating the act include imprisonment for up to five years and/or a fine of up to ₹ 15,000.

The Dowry Prohibition Act was enacted with the intention of stopping the practice of dowry. However, it has been ineffective in completely eradicating the problem. In many cases, families give dowry in secret and do not reveal it until after the marriage has taken place. 

Additionally, there have been instances where families have falsely accused others of demanding dowry in order to extort money from them.

Despite its shortcomings, the Dowry Prohibition Act is an important step in working towards gender equality in India. 

The Different Types of Feminist Jurisprudence

Feminist jurisprudence comprises a variety of legal theories and approaches that aim to achieve equality for women within the framework of the law. It is not a single, unified theory but rather a collection of various feminist approaches to law and legal reasoning.

The main goals of feminist jurisprudence are to:

-Challenge the traditional, male-centered approach to law and legal reasoning

-Expose and critique the ways in which the law discriminates against women

-Promote equality between men and women under the law

There are several different types of feminist jurisprudence, each with its own unique approach. The three most common types are liberal feminism, radical feminism, and socialist feminism.

  1. Liberal Feminism: Liberal feminism is based on the belief that men and women should be treated equally under the law. This type of feminism focuses on changing laws and policies that discriminate against women. It also seeks to ensure that women have equal access to education, employment, and other opportunities.
  2. Radical Feminism: Radical feminism takes a more critical view of the law than liberal feminism. It challenges not only laws that discriminate against women, but also the very foundation of our legal system, which is seen as patriarchal and oppressive. Radical feminists believe that true equality can only be achieved by completely restructuring our society along more egalitarian lines.

How Can Women Use Feminist Jurisprudence to Their Advantage in the Workplace?

Feminist jurisprudence is a legal theory that emphasizes the need for laws that recognize and protect the rights of women. It also calls for an analysis of the ways in which gender has been used to disadvantage women in the past. 

Feminist jurisprudence can be used to advantage in the workplace by helping women to understand their rights and how to assert them in the face of discrimination. It can also be used to challenge sexist policies and practices within organisations. In addition, feminist jurisprudence can be used to support efforts to promote gender equality in the workplace.

Conclusion

Feminist jurisprudence is an important tool for ensuring that working women in India have the same rights and protections as men. By familiarizing yourself with the laws that apply to you, you can be sure that you are being treated fairly at work and that your rights are being respected. 

If you think you may have been the victim of discrimination or harassment at work, don’t hesitate to reach out to a lawyer who specializes in feminist jurisprudence for help.

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