Social Legislations for the protection and welfare of Children, Women and Minorities, etc.

Women

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 already covered now

Sexual Harassment the workplace

Sexual harassment at the workplace has been one of the central concerns of the women‘s movement in India since the ‘80s. In 1997, the Supreme Court passed a landmark judgment in the Vishakha case laying down guidelines to be followed by establishments in dealing with complaints about sexual harassment. The court stated that these guidelines were to be implemented until legislation is passed to deal with the issue/ Sexual harassment includes such unwelcome sexually determined behaviour (whether directly or by implication) as:

  1. a) Physical contact and advances;
  2. b) A demand or request for sexual favours;
  3. c) Sexually coloured remarks;
  4. d) Showing pornography;
  5. e) Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature

Complaints mechanism

  • All workplaces should have an appropriate complaints mechanism with a complaints committee, special counsellor or other support services.
  • A woman must head the complaints committee and no less than half its members should be women

. • The committee should include an NGO/individual familiar with the issue of sexual harassment.

  • The complaints procedure must be time-bound.
  • Confidentiality must be maintained.
  • Complainants/witnesses should not experience victimisation/discrimination during the process.

Preventive steps

  • Sexual harassment should be affirmatively discussed at workers‘ meetings, employer-employee meetings, etc.
  • Guidelines should be prominently displayed to create awareness about the rights of female employees.
  • The employer should assist persons affected in cases of sexual harassment by outsiders.
  • Central and state governments must adopt measures, including

legislation, to ensure that private employers also observe the guidelines. • Names and contact numbers of members of the complaints committee must be prominently displayed.

Employers‘ responsibilities

  • Recognise sexual harassment as a serious offence.
  • Recognise the responsibility of the company/ factory/workplace to prevent and deal with sexual harassment at the workplace.
  • Recognise the liability of the company, etc, for sexual harassment by the employees or management. Employers are not necessarily insulated from that liability because they were not aware of sexual harassment by staff.
  • Formulate an anti-sexual harassment policy.
Child

The protection of children from sexual offenses Act 2012

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act), was enacted to protect children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography and to provide a childfriendly system for the trial of these offences. The Act provides for seven specific sexual offences against children and stipulates child-friendly legal procedures that must be adhered to during investigation and trial. Under the POCSO Act, the term ―child‖ has been defined to mean ―any person below the age of eighteen years‖ . The Act does not recognize sexual autonomy of children in any form. Children can also be held liable for committing sexual offences under the Act. As a result, sexual interactions or intimacies among or with children below the age of 18 years constitute an offence.

The aims and objectives of this Act were:

 To secure a child‘s right to safety, security and protection from sexual abuse.

 To protect children from inducement or coercion to sexual activity

 To prevent exploitative use of children in prostitution and generation of pornographic material.

 To provide a comprehensive legislation to safeguard the interest of a child at every stage – reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and trial of offences.

 To provide for establishment of special courts for sensitive and speedy trial

It made the law gender neutral and brought within its purview sexual assault of both girls and boys below the age of 18 years. It also widened the definition of sexual violence beyond the conventional peno-vaginal penetration to include crimes which did not amount to rape under the IPC. It also prescribed stringent punishment and many procedural safety measures to protect the child during investigation and trial.

Laws related to child labour.

Constitution of India contains provisions for survival, development and protection of children; these are mainly included in Part III and Part IV of the Constitution, i.e., fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy. India follows pro-active policy towards tackling child labour problem. The concern for children in general and child labour in particular is reflected through the Articles of the Constitution of India.

 Article 23 prohibits traffic in human being and begar and other similar forms of forced labour.

 Article 24 it has laid down that ―no child under the age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment‖.

 Article 39(e) and (f) requires the State and secure that the tender age of children are not abused and to ensure that they are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited in their age or strength. Those children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.

 Article 45 provides, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of 14 years.

 Article 51A(k) makes it a fundamental duty of the parent or Guardian to provide opportunities for education to the child or ward between the age of 6 and 14 years.

 Art. 21-A recognizes that the Right to Education as fundamental right and it mandates that, the state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of age of six to fourteen years in such manner as the state may, by law, determine.

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986

Several of legislations were enacted since 1881 for progressively extending legal protection to the working children. Provisions relating to child labour under various legislations have concentrated mainly on aspects such as minimizing working hours, increasing minimum age and prohibition of employment of children in occupation and processes detrimental to the health and welfare of children of tender age.

Main Provisions of the Bill are:-

(1) Ban the employment of children, i.e. those who have not completed their fourteenth year in specified occupations and processes;

(2) Lay down a procedure to decide modifications to the schedule of banned occupations or processes;

(3) Regulate the conditions of work of children engaged in forms of employment in which they are permitted to work;

(4) Prescribe enhanced penalties for employment of children in violation of the provisions of this Act and other Acts that forbid the employment of children

(5) Establish uniformity in the definition of child in laws concerning them.

Minorities

The Constitution of India does not define the word ‘Minority’ and only refers to ‘Minorities’ and speaks of those ‘based on religion or language’. Various schemes/programs for minorities are:-

Educational Empowerment

  • Scholarship Schemes
  • Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF)
  • Padho Pardesh – Scheme of Interest Subsidy on Educational Loans for Overseas Studies for the Students Belonging to the Minority Communities
  • Free Coaching and Allied Scheme
  • Nai Udaan – Support for Students for preparation of Main Examination who clear Prelims conducted by UPSC/SSC, State Public Service Commission (PSC) etc.

Economic Empowerment

  • Skill Development
  • Seekho aur Kamao (Learn & Earn)
  • USTTAD (Upgrading the Skills and Training in Traditional Arts/ Crafts for Development)
    Nai Manzil
  • Maulana Azad National Academy for Skills(MANAS)
  • Concessional credit through National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC)

Infrastructure Development

  • Multi-sectoral Development Programme (MsDP)
  • Special Needs
  • Nai Roshni – The Leadership Development of Minority Women
  • Hamari Dharohar
  • Jiyo Parsi – Scheme for Containing Population Decline of Parsis in India

Waqf Management

  • Scheme for Strengthening of State Waqf Boards
  • Computerization of the records of State Waqf Boards Scheme
  • Reasearch/ Studies, Monitoring and Evaluation of Development Scheme Including Publicity

Support to Institutions

  • Corpus Fund to Maulana Azad Education Foundation (MAEF)
  • Equity to National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC)
  • Grant in Aid Scheme to State Channelising Agencies of National Minorities Development & Finance Corporation

Prime Minister’s New 15 Points Programme for the Welfare of Minorities

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