Equal Laws

The Constitution of India secures to all  its citizens Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. One such law in question is 498A of the IPC which is called the dowry protection law in common parlance. The law states:

Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty.– Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

Explanation.- For the purposes of this section,” cruelty” means-

(a) any wilful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman; or  

(b) harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand

 

Thereby husbands or his relatives can be arrested for subjecting the wife to cruelty. The offence is criminal in nature and hence has a stigma attached to it coupled with the offence being non-bailable and non-compoundable.

Recently I came across a documentary titled ‘Equal Rights’ by ‘Yes I am the Change’ initiative by Yes Foundation. The video Equal Rights discusses the misuse of the above dowry protection law (498A). The misuse victims, as per the documentary, faced many hardships such as:

  • Being arrested along with the persons who came to help the victim.  
  • The men lost their jobs due to these cases.
  • The men were not even allowed to meet their children
  • In a case even the dog’s name was put in the complaint
  • A 2 month old baby has also got an Anticipatory Bail in this section, implying that the 2 month old was accused in conducting cruelty on the wife…..

Have a look at the documentary video for yourself –

 

 

There is a voting page on Facebook for the video. (The 4th Video on Page 2 – YITC211) 

The Malimath Committee on Reforms of Criminal Justice System had in the past recommended to amend this law and to make it bailable and compoundable.

Laws ought to be neutral and equitable to all, so let’s Stand Up for a Cause.

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Women in Work Force – Part 3 (short update)

This is in continuation to the earlier posts which can be found here- Part 1 and Part 2.

One of the justifications advanced for women leaving the work force is that they join the part-time labour force. Let us analyze the past years data on Current Weekly Activity Status Approach (cws). According to the CWS approach, a person is considered as a worker if he/she has performed any economic activity for at least 1 hour on any day of the reference week. For details please refer this link.

As per the CWS Approach the number of women participants in the labour force have reduced by 20% from 2004 to 2012[i]

Female-LFPR- current weekly activity status

Male-LFPR-current weekly activity status

Do feel free to comment and hypothesize any other reason for this trend.


[i] NSSO employment surveys 60, 62, 64, 66 and 68. Current Weekly Activity Status (cws) approach data. (Participation rate per 1,000)

Home Page: Stand Up for a Cause…

Child Labour in India

India, as all developing countries is plagued with the problem of rampant ‘Child Labour’ being employed even by established companies either directly or indirectly. Children are employed in various industries be it textiles, garments or jewelry related industries or small road-side shops and hotels. Frequently we see sting operations conducted by NGOs exposing how child workers are used even by multi-national textile companies indirectly through outsourcing of tasks.

The usage of children as domestic help is the most rampant urban abuse of children as labourers. A recent rescue of a child working as a domestic help was carried out in Delhi. The report states that the child was made to drink urine, kept naked in the bathroom, was singed with frying pans and hit with brooms. The article shows how child labour is treated in India and the torture they have to face.

India currently has an estimated 2.4 mn child workers as per the 68th NSS survey[i]. If we include the part time workers[ii], this number shoots up to 3.22 mn. The working children are primarily boys who carry the burden of the patriarchal social construct in their roles as protectors/ providers of the family and at that young age have to shoulder the responsibilities of the family. Still India has special schemes for education and development of a girl child and not for a boy child.

 Urban Working Children

 Rural Working Children

If we see the charts above, the number of urban working children has not reduced. The disparity is stark in the ratio of working boys to girls. It has in fact  increased[ii] from 2.9x in 2004 to 5.9x in 2009 implying that roughly 6 underage boys work for every underage working girl. This trend which shows that boys are employed as child labour, six times more than girls  is very disturbing, as the childhood of these children is being snatched away from them at a very tender age.

Over the years inspite of embracing a progressive outlook, the role of burdening young boys as ‘providers’ to shoulder the family responsibility has not changed even a bit as is evident from the chart below.

 Child Labour

India is the only country in the world which celebrates a Children’s Day, inspite of having all the good intentions and policies, we have to reflect why the young boys are still being forced into growing as ‘men’ sooner than they should.

There is also one more trend that has come to the fore in recent times. Are we sending our young to work because our women are voluntarily choosing to go out of the Labour Force?

This is a point to ponder upon, let us all Stand up for a Cause…


[i] Based on Usual Principal Status Approach. The estimate is derived by multiplying estimated population in the age group and per 1000 working population for that age group.

[ii] Based on Usual Principal Status Approach & Usual Subsidiary Economic Activity Status approach. The estimate is derived by multiplying estimated population in the age group and per 1000 working population for that age group.

Note: The data above is for age group 10-14. NSSO employment surveys 60, 62, 64, 66 and 68. Usual Principal Activity Status  approach data. (Participation rate per 1,000)

Home Page: Stand Up for a Cause…

Women in Work Force – Part 2

Shopper

I recently got a response to my article ‘Women in Work Force’, that women are leaving the work force because they need to take care of the children.

The justification seems logical but does not hold merit as –

  • Did women not have to take care of children in 2004? Were women not taking care of children earlier and therefore working and have recently realized over the past decade that they need to take care of children?
  • The proportion of children to the total population of India has reduced in the past decade, implying that lesser women-hours are to be spent on taking care of children now as compared to a decade earlier. Therefore logically their participation in the labour force should have increased as opposed to decreasing.

As per the census of India[i], the proportion of children in the age group 0-10 years has reduced from 26.5% in 2001 to 22.3% in 2011. This means, now more women should have free time as they donot have to take care of the children.

Another justification given for women going out of the work force is that they join the part-time labour force. If we analyse the labour force taking into account the subsidiary economic activity (ss) workers, even then number of women participants have reduced by 20%.[ii]

Female Labour Force Participation Rate (ps+ss)

Male Labour Force Participation Rate (ps+ss)

Hence, none of the justifications seem to be backed by facts.


[i] Census of India: 2011 and 2001

[ii] NSSO employment surveys 60, 62, 64, 66 and 68. Usual Principal Activity Status (ps) and Usual Subsidiary Economic Activity Status (ss) approach data. (Participation rate per 1,000)

Home Page: Stand Up for a Cause…

Women in Work Force

Woman drinking coffee

The working population in India is typically classified as 15-59 years age group. As a general philosophy every able bodied person is liable for their own upkeep and maintenance. Which implies every able bodied man and woman should ideally work and contribute to the society. This is to ensure that free riders are not there and the economy prospers.

A very important element in the growth for the economy is the participation of women in the workforce. The Labour Force Participation Rate[i] for men and women in India are given below:

Labour Force Participation Rate of Women

Labour Force Participation rate for Men

From the above table we see that Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) for women has reduced over the years as India is progressing towards development. Implying that more women choose to stay at home and not have an economic contribution. Such a trend should be a matter of concern for any society as free riders are like a parasite which is a non-mutual relationship where one party benefits at the cost of the other.

One of the reasons extended for women not working is that they take care of the household which should be considered as an economic activity. As per the NSO survey[ii], women spend about 2.1 hours cooking food and about 1.1 hours cleaning the house and utensils daily. In essence, women put in a total of 3.3 hours a day working within the house as compared to around 11 hours put in by their counterparts (ie. men). Hence, this justification also does not hold water.

One of the reasons for this disturbing trend of workforce participation of women reducing could be the lop-sided (biased) laws of India. All social and economic responsibilities are supposed to be shouldered by men and further there are no government programmes for their benefit. Let us take the example of maintenance, as per Section 125 of CrPC the liability for maintenance of wife, children and parents is only on men. No such liability is conferred on the women in India. If both men and women are considered equal then why such biased laws?

The effect of such laws is evident in the society with women becoming complacent and leaving the workforce. This has increased the parasitic tendencies and is a recipe for economic downturn.

What are your thoughts on this negative trend? Do feel free to comment…


[i] NSSO employment surveys 60, 62, 64, 66 and 68. Usual Principal Status approach data (Urban + Rural). (Participation rate per 1,000)

[ii] National Statistical Organization: Men and Women in India, 2012 – 14th Issue, Para 33

Home Page: Stand Up for a Cause…

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