Know your rights
Society’s relationship with women is a very disturbed one. It represses them, and it holds them up to the spotlight, it tries to hide them under a blanket of restrictive tradition and then applauds them when they break out of it.
Unfortunately, more often than not, the negatives outweigh the positives. Eons of patriarchy have ensured that women have a terrible time struggling out of the shackles society binds them in from the minute they are born. They are subjected to horrible abuse – sometimes even within the womb- and when they try to fight against it, and when they strive to rebel against the atrocities meted out to them they are often arrested, or taken to court, on the grounds that they are to blame or that they are over stepping their lines.
Thanks to the recent Delhi rape case, more activists are speaking out for women and going into great lengths to protect women and their rights. In keeping with this, it is imperative that women are aware of their rights and what goes on around them, in order to be able to knowledgeably fight their case if they are ever wrongfully apprehended. This is especially so as there have been numerous example of a woman’s modesty being maligned by police after they have wrongfully arrested her.
Special provisions have been made to counter this evil – the Supreme Court has laid down certain rules and regulations that all women should be made aware of so that this knowledge can be of use to them in times of peril. It is sad, that there must be laws to ensure that the law makers and enforcers of security – the police – do not misuse their authority.
Women should note that under Article 15 in the Indian Constitution, the following provisions are made for women in the event of an arrest:
A magistrate’s ( judge’s) special permission is required to arrest a woman after sunset and before sunrise. Furthermore, at least one female police officer should be present when the arrest is made.
Arrested women have to be kept in a separate lock-up – away from men who have been arrested and are awaiting trial. In case such a lock-up is not available then the woman must be detained in a separate room.
Along with the fact that a woman office must be present when a woman is being arrested, it is necessary that a lady officer carry out any searching or frisking and this must be done with utmost respect to the woman’s decency.
Also, even if a woman is arrested for a non-bailable offence, the court can release her on bail, even if she is facing the death sentence.
Keep these things in mind if you are ever in trouble because it is your constitutional right to have these provisions observed. Unfortunately, in India, where the government and laws are concerned, there is many a slip between the cup and the lip. However, a little knowledge is always better than none at all.