Sunday, 8 September 2013

Why should women change their titles after marriage?

This is not exactly an Indian topic, but I thought it is a worthwhile topic to discuss, anyway.

            Women all over the world, whether they’re married, single (or taken!) are entitled to be considered equal to men and given due respect wherever they go. But, the practice of women changing their last names after marriage and getting addressed as Mrs., is still very much prevalent and is regarded as something obvious. This is a traditional practice and is not questioned by anyone. Of course, this practice isn't harmful like the Sati or Polygamy. But, it does create a sense of gender inequality and female inferiority. Why should a woman always be the daughter of XYZ or the wife of ABC? Why can’t she be herself?
            We should also note the fact that it isn't illegal to call a married woman Miss., and there are many women who keep their titles even after their marriage. It’s really important to understand that all women are free to choose what they want to be called.

For a woman to be treated with respect by others, she should first learn to respect herself. Women should maintain their dignity and prove that they aren’t dependent on men and have full rights and pluck to live alone.

            Here are certain constitutional rights provided to all Indian women:

The Constitution of India not only grants equality to women but also empowers the State to adopt measures of positive discrimination in favor of women for neutralizing the cumulative socio economic, education and political disadvantages faced by them.  Fundamental Rights, among others, ensure equality before the law and equal protection of law; prohibits discrimination against any citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth, and guarantee equality of opportunity to all citizens in matters relating to employment. 

Constitutional Privileges

(i) Equality before law for women (Article 14)

(ii)  The State not to discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of  birth or any of them.

(iii)       The State to make any special provision in favor of women and children.

(iv)  Equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State.

(v)  The State to direct its policy towards securing for men and women equally the right to an adequate means of livelihood and equal pay for equal work for both men and women.
(x)        To promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India and to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women.

(xi)       Not less than one-third (including the number of seats reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes) of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in every Panchayat to be reserved for women and such seats to be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Panchayat .
(xii)      Not less than one- third of the total number of offices of Chairpersons in the Panchayats at each level to be reserved for women.

(ix)  Not less than one-third (including the number of seats reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes) of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in everyMunicipality to be reserved for women and such seats to be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Municipality.

(x)  Reservation of offices of Chairpersons in Municipalities for the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and women in such manner as the legislature of a State may by law provide.

To uphold the Constitutional mandate, the State has enacted various legislative measures intended to ensure equal rights, to counter social discrimination and various forms of violence and atrocities and to provide support services especially to working women.
Although women may be victims of any of the crimes such as ‘Murder’, ‘Robbery’, ‘Cheating’ etc, the crimes, which are directed specifically against women, are characterized as ‘Crime against Women’. These are broadly classified under two categories.

(1) The Crimes Identified Under the Indian Penal Code (IPC)
          Rape for different purposes   
          Homicide for Dowry, Dowry Deaths or their attempts
          Torture, both mental and physical
<        Sexual Harassment
                  Importation of girls (up to 21 years of age)

(2)  The Crimes identified under the Special Laws (SLL)
Although all laws are not gender specific, the provisions of law affecting women significantly have been reviewed periodically and amendments carried out to keep pace with the emerging requirements. Some acts which have special provisions to safeguard women and their interests are:
(i)  The Employees State Insurance Act, 1948
(ii)  The Plantation Labour Act, 1951
(iii) The Family Courts Act, 1954
(iv)The Special Marriage Act, 1954
(v) The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
(vi)   The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 with amendment in 2005
(vii)  Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956
(viii)  The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 (Amended in 1995)
(ix)  Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
(x)   The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971
(xi)  The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1976
(xii)  The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976
(xiii)  The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006
(xiv)  The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1983
(xv)  The Factories (Amendment) Act, 1986
(xvi)   Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986
(xvii)   Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987
(xviii)  The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005

(i) National Commission for Women
In January 1992, the Government set-up this statutory body with a specific mandate to study and monitor all matters relating to the constitutional and legal safeguards provided for women, review the existing legislation to suggest amendments wherever necessary, etc.
(ii) Reservation for Women in Local Self -Government
The 73rd Constitutional Amendment Acts passed in 1992 by Parliament ensure one-third of the total seats for women in all elected offices in local bodies whether in rural areas or urban areas.
(iii)   The National Plan of Action for the Girl Child (1991-2000)
The plan of Action is to ensure survival, protection and development of the girl child with the ultimate objective of building up a better future for the girl child.
(iv)  National Policy for the Empowerment of Women, 2001
The Department of Women & Child Development in the Ministry of Human Resource Development has prepared a “National Policy for the Empowerment of Women” in the year 2001. The goal of this policy is to bring about the advancement, development and empowerment of women.

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