With rising crimes against women in India, not only the victim women but all of us should be aware of these legal rights for women. Here are some of the important points everyone must know and make others aware too.
1 Free legal aid
Often, women go to the police station unaccompanied by any lawyer to get their statement recorded but there is a risk of being misquoted or there is a chance of their statement being tampered. The police may also treat the entire episode lightly and not lodge an FIR. So, demand to have a lawyer with you while you lodge the FIR.
2 Right to privacy while recording statement
A woman who has been raped can record her statement before the district magistrate when the case is under trial, and no one else needs to be present.Under section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, she also has an option to record the statement with only one police officer and woman constable in a convenient place that is not crowded and zeroes the possibility of the statement being overheard by a fourth person.
3 Time doesn’t matter
The police cannot refuse to register an FIR even if a considerable period of time has elapsed since the incident of rape or molestation took place. If the police tells you that they can’t lodge your FIR since you didn’t report it earlier, do not concede.
4 Email to the rescue
According to the guidelines issued by the Delhi Police, a woman has the privilege of lodging a complaint via email or registered post. If, for some reason, a woman can’t go to the police station, she can send a written complaint through an email or registered post addressed to a senior police officer of the level of Deputy Commissioner or Commissioner of Police.
5 Cops can’t say no
6 No arrests after sunset
A woman cannot be arrested after sunset and before sunrise. There are many cases of women being harassed by the police at wee hours, but all this can be avoided if you exercise the right of being present in the police station only during daytime. Even if there is a woman constable accompanying the officers, the police can’t arrest a woman at night.
7 You can’t be called to the police station
Women cannot be called to the police station for interrogation under Section 160 of the Criminal Procedure Code. This law provides Indian women the right of not being physically present at the police station for interrogation. The police can interrogate a woman at her residence in the presence of a woman constable and family members or friends.
8 Protect your identity
Under no circumstances can the identity of a rape victim be revealed. Neither the police nor media can make known the name of the victim in public. Section 228-A of the Indian Penal Code makes the disclosure of a victim’s identity a punishable offense. Even printing or publishing the name or any matter which may reveal or disclose the identity of a victimized woman is punishable.
9 The doctor can’t decide
A case of rape can’t be dismissed even if the doctor says rape had not taken place. A victim of rape needs to be medically examined as per Section 164 A of the Criminal Procedure Code, and only the report can act as proof.
10 Employers must protect
It is the duty of every employer to have a Sexual Harassment Complaints Committee within the organisation for redressal of such complaints. According to a guideline issued by the Supreme Court, it is mandatory for all firms, public and private, to set up these committees to resolve matters of sexual harassment. It is also necessary that the committee be headed by a woman and comprise 50% women as members. Also, one of the members should be from a women’s welfare group.
Reference: Hindustan Times
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