According to the gender, in 2018 Indian have remain hundreds of violent incidents against women but some major changes were made in the lawto reduce these crimes.
The Supreme Court gave two important decisions in favor of women on Sabrimala Temple dispute and on the issues of adultery last year. With all these developments, the ‘Me Too’ movement, which started from the USA, gave the first knock on India’s door in 2018 only.
Linked to women’s issues, a look at the major events of the past year-
Kathua case and Death Penalty declaration in child rape cases
In January 2018, the incident of gang rape with an eight-year-old girl in Kathua town adjacent to Jammu shook the whole country. After this sexual assault, the cruel assassination of a girl child made a topic of concern and discussion among common people after the issue of violence against women in India once again. Country-wide protests were demonstrated on the streets and demand for new stringent laws increased on cases of sexual violence against children.
The Lok Sabha passed it after six months after discussing the Criminal Law Amendment Bill. After this change in criminal law, the convicts can now be sentenced to death for rape cases with girls below 12 years of age. Earlier, in the year 2012, after the rape of a college student ‘Nirbhaya’ in a moving bus in Delhi, the provision of maximum punishment of death for rape was brought in to amend the law next year.
The #MeToo campaign started in the US, knocked in this September when the film actress Tanu Shree Dutta accused of harassment against Nana Patekar in a case that took place ten years ago. After this campaign, many women related to film, art and media spoke candidly about the incidents of torture and harassment suffered by them. Among the charges imposed by women, many names of prominent names like Nana Patekar, Vikas Bahal, Utsav Chakravarty, Alok Nath and MJ Akbar were included in the names. After being accused of sexually assault, MJ Akbar resigned as Minister of State for External Affairs.
Changes in Adultery Law
In a historic decision given in September 2018, the five-member Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court canceled the 150-year-old ‘adultery’ or ‘fornication’ law. Describing a decision on the PIL filed in the apex court, the than Chief Justice Deepak Mishra said that “any such law which negatively affects the same behavior with dignity and women, is against the constitution.”
In this context, Justice Mishra, declaring Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as arbitrary and irrelevant, added, “It is now time to say that the husband is not the owner of the wife in the marriage. The legal sovereignty of one of the other is completely wrong. “
The old adultery law was made in 1860. In the Section 497 of the IPC, it was said that if a man makes physical relationship with another married woman with her consent, then on the complaint of husband, the case can be prosecuted under the Adultery Act. In doing so, there was a provision of five years of imprisonment for man and a fine or both. However, there was also a screw in this law that if a married man makes a physical relationship with a virgin or a widow, then he was not considered to be guilty under adultery.
Entry restriction on women in Sabrimala temple removed
After a hearing lasted for 12 years on a PIL, finally, in September, the Supreme Court lifted the ban on entry of women in the Sabarimala temple in Kerala. The entrance of women of menstrual age has been barred for hundreds of years in Sabarimala temple, which has been identified as a major pilgrimage site for Hindus.
The reason behind the distinction of the temple administration was that the God Ayyappa sat inside the temple was celibate all the time, so women coming to the age of menstruation cannot come here and worship. But on the 28th September 2018, after the decision of the 5-member Constitution Bench in the Sabarimala Temple case, this prohibition was a violation of Section 14 of the Constitution.
According to the Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court, everyone should get permission to worship in the temple without any discrimination. Justice Chandrachud said in the decision that everyone should have equal rights and some people cannot take the decision of ‘ethics’. The fifth and only woman judge of the Constitution bench, Justice Indu Malhotra, disagreed with the remaining 4 judges but the verdict was passed by a majority of 4-1.
Although nearly three months after the passage of the judgment, women have not been able to enter the temple till today due to the constant opposition of the cultural-social organizations associated with the temple.