Women in Politics: Statistics from Inter-Parliamentary Union

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The statistics of the Inter-Parliamentary Union highlight the following aspects about the Women in Politics:
  • The percentage of female elected heads of state dropped from 7.2 per cent to 6.6 per cent from 2017 to 2018.
  • The percentage of female heads of government dropped from 5.7 per cent to 5.2 per cent from 2017 to 2018.
  • The global share of women in parliament increased by nearly one percentage point from 2017 to 2018, to 24.3 per cent.
  • It took 25 years to get to 24.3 per cent from 11 per cent in 1995.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union notes that despite some positive movement, the overwhelming majority of government leaders remain male and there has been a “serious regression” in the political power of women across the world in recent years.
Inter-Parliamentary Union
Inter-Parliamentary Union established in 1889 is a global inter-parliamentary institution. Initially, the organization was for individual parliamentarians but has since transformed into an international organization of the parliaments of sovereign states.

Gender Parity : Women in Military Police

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Women in Military Police:

  • The Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced the decision to induct women in Personnel Below Officer Rank, PBOR, role in Corps of Military Police.
  • The women will be inducted in a graded manner to eventually comprise 20% of total Corps of Military Police.
  • Accordingly, the Army chalked out induction of approximately 800 women in military police with a yearly intake of 52 personnel per year.

Military Police:

  • Military Police are the corps responsible for the enforcing discipline and the maintenance of law and order in the military environment and for military purposes.
  • The functions of the Military Police includes policing cantonments and Army establishments, preventing a breach of rules and regulations by soldiers, maintaining movement of soldiers as well as logistics during peace and war, handling prisoners of war and extending aid to civil police whenever required.

Role of Women in Military Police:

  • Investigation of offences such as rape, molestation, thefts etc.
  • Military operations of nature where Army needs assistance from police organisations
  • Assisting civil police/ administration for evacuation in forward villages during hostilities.
  • Crowd control of refugees comprising women and children.
  • Searching/ Frisking of women during cordon & search operations/ check posts.
  • Ceremonial and Policing Duties
  • Maintaining military discipline.
  • Manning the Prisoner of War Camps.

The announcement is seen as a precursor for allowing the women in combat roles. Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat had earlier said that the process to allow women in a combat role, currently, an exclusive domain of men was moving fast and initially, women will be recruited for positions in the military police.

Long cohabitation is presumed marriage: SC

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  • Supreme Court has upheld presumption that couple who live together as husband and wife are legally married and woman can claim maintenance under Section 125 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC ).
  • The apex court held that law presumes in favour of marriage and against concubinage when man and woman have cohabited continuously for a number of years.
Court Ruling
  • Man who lived with woman for long time and even though they may not have undergone legal necessities of valid marriage is liable to pay the woman maintenance if he deserts her.
  • In this case, man should not be allowed to benefit from legal loopholes by enjoying advantages of de facto marriage without undertaking duties and obligations.
  • Any other interpretation in this case will lead woman to vagrancy and destitution, which provision of maintenance in Section 125 of CrPC is meant to prevent.
Background
  • This judgment of SC was based on appeal filed by woman against Karnataka High Court decision of June 2009.
  • The High Court had set aside family court order, directing man she lived with since 1998 and had two children by to pay maintenance.
  • Their relationship in this case was solemnised in a temple and husband of woman had later abandoned the family.
  • The family court had ordered him to pay maintenance to woman and their children on monthly basis.
  • This court had held the couple is accepted as husband and wife by society.
  • The man had however had moved appeal in High Court, which pronounced that there was no proof that she was his legally-wedded wife.

Sexual Harassment : Changes to Sexual Harassment Law

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Context

  • The Centre recently announced its plan to set up a panel of judges to look into the legal and institutional framework to curb sexual harassment at workplaces following the #MeToo campaign on social media.

Changes suggested by Justice Verma Panel:

  • As early as 2013, the Justice J.S. Verma Committee, in its landmark report on gender laws, had recommended setting up of an employment tribunal instead of an internal complaints committee (ICC) in sweeping changes to the Sexual Harassment at the Workplace Bill.
  • The panel was formed in the aftermath of the December 16 Nirbhaya gangrape in 2012 and the ensuing nationwide protests, and submitted its report on January 23, 2013.
  • At that time of the submission of the report, the Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill had already been passed by the Lok Sabha and was awaiting the Rajya Sabha’s nod. The Bill was passed unchanged by the Upper House a month later.
  • The Committee, chaired by Justice Verma and including Justice Leila Seth and senior lawyer Gopal Subramanium, termed the Sexual Harassment Bill unsatisfactory and said it did not reflect the spirit of the Vishakha guidelines — framed by the Supreme Court in 1997 to curb sexual harassment at the workplace.
  • The report noted that an internal complaints committee as laid down under the then proposed law would be counter-productive as dealing with such complaints in-house could discourage women from filing complaints. Instead, the committee proposed forming an employment tribunal to receive and adjudicate all complaints.
  • To ensure speedy disposal of complaints, the Justice Verma Commitee proposed that the tribunal should not function as a civil court but may choose its own procedure to deal with each complaint.
  • The Committee said any unwelcome behaviour should be seen from the subjective perception of the complainant, thus broadening the scope of the definition of sexual harassment.
  • The Verma panel said an employer could be held liable if he or she facilitated sexual harassment, permitted an environment where sexual misconduct becomes widespread and systemic, where the employer fails to disclose the company’s policy on sexual harassment and ways in which workers can file a complaint as well as fails to forward a complaint to the tribunal. The company would also be liable to pay compensation to the complainant
  • The panel also made several suggestions to encourage women to come forward and file complaints. For instance, it opposed penalising women for false complaints and called it an abusive provision intended to nullify the objective of the law.
  • The Verma panel also said that the time-limit of three months to file a complaint should be done away with and a complainant should not be transferred without her consent.

Sexual Harassment : #MeToo Movement

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What is Sexual Harassment?

The Sexual Harassment of Women (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013 defines sexual harassment to include any one or more of the following unwelcome acts or behaviour (whether directly or by implication) namely:

  1.  Physical contact and advances
  2. A demand or request for sexual favours
  3. Making sexually coloured remarks
  4.  Showing pornography
  5. Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.

What is sexual harassment at workplace?

Sexual harassment at the workplace is any unwelcome sexually defined behaviour which has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with the individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, abusive or offensive working environment.

An Indian Context:

  • India has signed and ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
  • In 1997 as part of the Vishaka judgment, the Supreme Court drew upon the CEDAW and laid down specific guidelines on the prevention of sexual harassment of women at the workplace.
  • The Vishaka guidelines defined sexual harassment and codified preventive measures and redressal mechanisms to be undertaken by employers.

MeToo Movement:

  • Actor Tanushree Dutta’s had made allegations of harassment at the hands of actor Nana Patekar on a film set a decade ago.
  • Minister of State for External Affairs has been accused of sexual harassment by at least 10 women journalists.
  • In the immediate aftermath of this development, women have been speaking of their experiences and the trauma, mostly on Twitter and Facebook.
  • The testimonies that have so far been expressed have mostly concerned the film world and the mainstream media, and cover both the workplace and private spaces.
  • These testimonies range from stories of assault to propositioning, suggestiveness to stalking.

Origins of the MeToo Movement:

  • The MeToo hashtag gained currency a year ago in the U.S.
  • In the U.S., women came out one after another to first corroborate allegations of sexual assault against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
  • There were many allegations levelled and each further account made it clear that there was a systemic pattern of abuse and silence.

Why this movement and why now?

  • Experts believe that there has been an utter failure of due process.
  • Unfortunately, victims have written formal complaints and have also tried to get their organisations to act, but they have mostly found themselves facing a system that prefers to be complicit with the perpetrators.
  • A couple of cases further illustrate this:
    1. In the case of the former TERI chairman, R.K. Pachauri, for instance, despite the victim filing a police complaint and compelling the organisation to initiate an inquiry, he not only continued in TERI for another year but was publicly supported by the board members.
    2. There is another case of rape that one can sight against the former Editor of Tehelka, Tarun Tejpal. In spite of being a “fast track” case, five years on, it has only seen a series of adjournments, with no sign of justice on the horizon.

Experts believe that the failure of due process is the success of #MeToo. After decades of witnessing the impunity of the perpetrators, #MeToo is fuelled by an impunity of sorts of the ‘victims’.

Concluding Remarks:

  • It is important to identify the exact transgression in the various cases that are being expressed, and to ensure that action is taken with due process.
  • Further, it is important to note that no one can be deemed guilty only because he had been named and any punishment must be proportionate to the misdemeanour.
  • It is also important to consider that many people, especially men, have raised concerns regarding false accusations. This remains valid.
  • In conclusion, we should note that there has been a systemic disregard for making workplaces and common spaces free of harassment.
  • All of society needs to internalise a new normal that protects a woman’s autonomy and her freedom from discrimination at the workplace.

Group of Ministers on MeToo:

  • The Centre established a Group of Ministers to recommend measures to effectively implement the law against sexual harassment at the workplace and to strengthen the legal and institutional framework in response to the #MeToo campaign.

 

Recent Court Judgement for Women

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  • Sabrimala Temple Entry Case : SC declares restriction on women in Sabrimala temple unconstitutional.
  • Haji Ali Dargah Case : Women were not allowed inside Dargah. SC observed that ‘exclusion’ is practised by both Hindus and Muslims and the problem needs to be addressed. Dargah Trust conceded before the court that it had resolved to allow women to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the dargah at par with men.
  • Triple Talaq Case : SC declared triple talaq unconstitutional and anti-Quran. Constitution Bench held that Islam cannot be anti-Quran and Triple talaq is against the basic tenets of the Holy Quran, and consequently, it violates Shariat.
  • Goolrokh Gupta Case : SC has intervened with the Parsi elders to allow Goolrokh Gupta, a Parsi woman, who married outside her faith, to pray at the Tower of Silence for her departed father.
  • Female Genital Mutilation Case : SC has also referred to a Constitution Bench the question whether the practice of female circumcision or khafz, prevalent in the Dawoodi Bohra sect, amounts to female genital mutilation and is a violation of women’s right to life and dignit

Coffee production in India

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  • India is 6th largest coffee producer in the world with 4% share after Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia and Ethiopia.
  • In India, coffee is cultivated in about 4.54 lakh hectares by 3.66 lakh coffee farmers and 98% of them are small farmers.
  • Karnataka (54%), Kerala (19%) and Tamil  Nadu (8%) are largest coffee producing states.
  • India accounts for only 4-5% of world’s coffee output, but exports 70-80% of its produce.
  • Italy, Russia and Germany are the top three buyers of Indian coffee. 
  • In India, two coffee varieties robusta (or Coffea canephora) and Coffea arabica are grown on large scale.

National Database on Sexual Offenders (NDSO)

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  • NDSO is an initiative under National Mission for Safety of Women aimed at curbing crimes against women and children.
  • It will mainly include data of sexual offenders in the country convicted under charges of rape, gang rape, POCSO and eve teasing 2005 onwards.
  • It will contain  key details of convicted sexual offenders such as their names, residential address, photographs, fingerprints, DNA samples, Aadhaar numbers and Personal Account Numbers (PANs).
  • It will be maintained by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for regular monitoring and tracking by State Police.
  • The database will not compromise any individual’s privacy.
  • At present database contains 4.4 lakh entries.
  • State Police will regularly update the database from 2005 onwards.
  • As of now, it does not have records of juvenile offenders, but they are likely to be included in at later stage.
  • NDSO will maintain database of cases classified as posing low danger for a period of 15 years.
  • The database of cases, which are classified as moderate danger, will be stored for 25 years.
  • The data for cases involving repeat and habitual offenders, criminals, convicted gang rapists and custodial rapes will be stored permanently.

 

ias4sure.com - National Database on Sexual Offenders (NDSO)

Triple Talaq Ordinance

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Ordinance:

  • The Union Cabinet has cleared ordinance to make practice of instant triple talaq penal offence.
  • Compelling reason cited by Government for promulgation of this ordinance was that practice of triple talaq continues unabated even after annulled by Supreme Court due to absence of legal framework.

 

Provisions:

  • The ordinance makes instant triple talaq illegal and void.
  • It prescribes punishment with jail term for three years to husbands practicing triple talaq.
  • It also includes certain safeguards such as the addition of a provision of bail for the accused before trial, to do away with fears of misuse of the law.
  • The offence of triple talaq will only be cognizable when victim wife or her relatives by blood or marriage file FIR.
  • It is compoundable offence, meaning that there can be compromise but only on insistence of wife and magistrate will have to determine terms and conditions.
  • The offender can be granted bail by magistrate but only after hearing victim wife as it is private dispute between husband and wife and wife must be heard when bail is granted. 
  • Additionally, victim wife will get custody of minor children.
  • They will be entitled to receive maintenance from husband for herself and children, as decided by magistrate.

 

Criticism:

  • This decision has come under a lot of criticism as being a sign of undue impatience.
  • Several sections believe that this is a matter that required deliberation, especially after keeping in mind that serious objections were raised to some of the provisions of the Bill passed by the Lok Sabha.  
  • Currently, it is not clear as to what may have prompted the government to take recourse to the extraordinary power of promulgating an ordinance.
  • There is no documentary evidence to show that the incidence of instant triple talaq had reached alarming levels.
  • Thus the hasty nature in which a presidential ordinance was promulgated needs to be examined.
  • Further, as per Article 123 of the Indian Constitution, the President of India is required to ensure the existence of circumstances “which render it necessary for him to take immediate action”.
  • Thus, it is believed that the Centre, must make public the evidence presented to the President. This can be done so in the interest of a fair debate.
  • Article 123 empowers the President to promulgate an ordinance only when urgent situations arise during the recess of Parliament. However, in the case of triple talaq, no such emergency came to light.

Inequality in wages

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 International Labour Organization : India Wage Report:

  • Real average daily wages in India almost doubled in the first two decades after economic reforms, but low pay and wage inequality remains a serious challenge to inclusive growth, the International Labour Organization warned in its India Wage Report.
  • The ILO has called for stronger implementation of minimum wage laws and strengthening of the frameworks for collective bargaining by workers.
  • This is essential to combat persistent low pay in some sectors and to bridge the wage gaps between rural and urban, male and female, and regular and casual workers.
  • Overall, in 2009-10, a third of all of wage workers were paid less than the national minimum wage, which is merely indicative and not legally binding. That includes 41% of all casual workers and 15% of salaried workers.
  • In 2011-12, the average wage in India was about Rs. 247 rupees a day, almost double the 1993-94 figure of Rs. 128.
  • Regional disparities in average wages have actually increased over time, with wages rising more rapidly in high-wage States than in low-wage ones.
  • The gender wage gap decreased from 48% in 1993-94 to 34% in 2011-12, but still remains high by international standards.
  • And of all worker groups, the average wages of casual rural female workers was the lowest, at just Rs. 104 a day.
  • The ILO also highlighted the lack of timely data as a hindrance, pointing out that its analysis — and the decisions of Indian policy makers — was dependent on 2011-12 data from the Employment and Unemployment Survey (EUS) of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), as that was the last year in which the survey was done.

ILO