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.

Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act (Triple Talaq)

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Bill:

  • Bill has been passed by Lok Sabha.
  • The bill would replace the ordinance passed in the month of September.
  • The Bill makes all declaration of talaq, including in written or electronic form (text message, email etc) to be void and illegal i.e. not enforceable in law.
  • It defines talaq as talaq-e-biddat or any other similar form of talaq pronounced by Muslim husband resulting in instant and irrevocable divorce to his wife.
  • It refers Talaq-e-biddat to practice under Muslim personal laws where pronouncement of word ‘talaq’ thrice in one sitting by Muslim husband to his wife results in instant and irrevocable divorce.
  • Offence and penalty: It makes declaration of talaq a cognizable and non-bailable offence i.e. offence for which police officer may arrest an accused person without warrant. Moreover, a Muslim husband declaring triple talaq can be imprisoned for up to 3 years along with a fine.
  • Declaration of Triple Talaq would be a cognizable offence, attracting up to three years’ imprisonment with a fine. The bill states that the offence will be cognizable only if information relating to the offence is given by the married woman (against whom talaq has been declared), or any person related to her by blood or marriage.
  • Under the provisions of the bill, the Magistrate may grant bail to the accused only after hearing the woman (against whom talaq has been pronounced), and if the Magistrate is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for granting bail.
  • The bill also states that the offence may be compounded by the Magistrate upon the request of the woman (against whom talaq has been declared). The bill empowers the Magistrate to determine terms and conditions of the compounding.
  • Allowance: It entitles Muslim woman against whom triple talaq has been declared to seek subsistence allowance from her husband for herself and for her dependent children. First Class Magistrate will decide this allowance amount.
  • Custody of minor children: Muslim woman against whom triple talaq has been declared, is entitled to seek custody of her minor children. First Class Magistrate will make determination of custody of her minor children.

Why it was done?

  • In August 2017 landmark verdict, Supreme Court had banned practice of “triple talaq” in which Muslim men unilaterally divorce their wives by uttering talaq three times in quick succession, calling it “unconstitutional”.
  • As per Supreme Court pronouncement, the practice of “triple talaq” is un-Islamic and “arbitrary” and was not integral part of religious practice.
  • It also violated Article 14 (Equality before law) and Article 21 of Indian Constitution.
  • It was alleged that practise of triple talaq adversely impact rights of women to a life of dignity and is against constitutional principles such as gender equality, secularism, international laws etc.
  • It also undermines gender equality which is a sacred principle of our constitution and modern society.
  • Even 21 Islamic theocratic countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan have abolished it.

Concerns Raised:

  • Punish the husband only if the woman files a complaint.
  • Instant talaq should be an offence but not a cognisable one.
  • They fear that the provisions have the potential to adversely impact Muslim women who are victims of instant talaq and result in greater harassment.
  • The purpose of this bill is gender justice, and criminalisation in itself cannot serve this objective. Marriage is a civil matter.
  • As per 494 of the Indian Penal Code bigamy is non-cognisable and bailable offence. Violation of law through triple talaq should invite penalty and punishment accordingly and proportionately.

Cognizable offence

A cognizable offence is one for which a police officer may arrest an accused person without a warrant.

Compounding of offence

Compounding of offence refers to a procedure where the two sides agree to stop legal proceedings, and settle the dispute.

Global Gender Gap Index 2018

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  • India ranked 108/144 countries (Same as last year)
  • Index was released as part of World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report 2018.
  • Iceland is ranked 1.
  • The index measures gender gap as progress towards parity between men and women in four indicators
    1. Educational attainment,
    2. Health and survival,
    3. Economic opportunity and
    4. Political empowerment.
  • Countries are ranked based scores on scale ranging from 0 (lowest i.e. imparity) to 1 (highest i.e. parity).
  • It is released every year by WEF since 2006.

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

Gender Parity in Armed Forces

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Facts:

  • Countries that allow women in Close combat: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, North Korea etc.
  • Countries in which women allowed in combat, not necessarily close combat: USA, UK, Pakistan, South Korea etc.

ias4sure.com - Gender Parity in Armed Forces

 

Background:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his addresses to the nation on occasion of 72nd Independence Day from Red Fort announced that permanent commission will be granted to serving women officers of armed forces.
  • Until now, women could qualify only for short service commission with a tenure of 14 years; this made them ineligible for pension and often unable to find other work virtually midway through their working lives.
  • Indian Navy & Airforce had already granted permanent commission to women following a Delhi high court order of 2010

Significance of PM announcement:

  • The announcement comes after Government had told Supreme Court (in May 2018) that it was considering granting PC to SSC women Army officers.
  • Granting PC to women officers will change their career paths, besides provide full-length career opportunity for women aspirants in the future.
  • PC to women officers will also give them same option as male officers and they can theoretically achieve higher ranks like Colonels, Brigadiers, Major Generals and Lieutenant Generals in Indian Army.
  • Note: Granting PC to women officers will not change the status quo in their induction in combat branches of Indian Army like Infantry, Armoured Corps, Mechanised Infantry, Army Aviation Corps and Artillery b as women are so far not inducted in direct combat roles. Most of senior operational commanders in Army are from these combat arms branches, so women officers are less likely to get higher seniority posts.

Current status in Navy and Air Force:

  • Unlike Indian Army, IAF and Indian Navy have opened up select combat roles for women.
  • IAF has allowed entry of women as officers in both flying and ground duties. In IAF, women SSC officers are now commissioned even as fighter pilots, as helicopter and transport pilots.
  • They are also commissioned by IAF in legal, education and intelligence branches. In Navy, women officers are inducted through SSC in Logistics, Law, Air Traffic Control (ATC), Observers, Pilots (Maritime Reconnaissance Stream), Naval Armament Inspectorate Cadre (NAIC), Naval Architecture and Education Branch.

 Key arguments for not inducting women in front line were:

  • Fear of women being taken PoW
  • Physically demanding nature of these jobs
  • Lower muscle mass, relatively less strength
  • Concerns like maternity, ability to withstand G-force, fear of molestation esp PoW.

Women Army officers are still denied permanent commission at par with men. Analyse the reasons behind it. How far patriarchal and macho mindset is responsible for such discrimination? (200 Words)

The recent affidavit filed by the Indian Army in the Supreme court expresses discouragement to appointing women officers in permanent commission. This is a retrogressive move and reiterates the patriarchal mindset in the Indian society.

‘War has no runners-up, hence the need for an efficient war machine that will ensure victory,’ it said. This move not only denies equality to women but also makes them ―lesser citizens of India as they are not being a the same rights as men. The reasons cited by the Indian Army include:

  1. The bulk of the army’s junior commissioned officers (JCOs) and other ranks, who hail from rural India, are not yet ready to accept a woman as their leader in combat situations.
  2. Beyond the SSC, in permanent commission tenure women could be exposed to hostile environments, also the unique nature of responsibility and organisational requirement.
  3. The attendant hazard and trauma, possibility of being made a prisoner of war

These reasons appear farce and reflect a patriarchal mindset because :

  1. Rank v/s gender: commands are attached to the ―rank or position of a system, may it be judiciary, administration, legislature or military. And not to the gender of the individual. If this would have been so, India would never have had a successful women prime minister or president.
     
  2. Ability v/s gender : As long as an individual is qualified for a position, the gender is arbitrary.
     
  3. Unique requirements: During the 14-year short service commission tenure they now enjoy, women officers in various corps are assigned duties similar to those of men officers without distinction, to all possible field units with men officers. So the unique requirements in permanent commission smacks of gender discrimination.
     
  4. Technology and gender: In modern high technology battlefield, technical expertise and decision making skills are increasingly more valuable than simple brute strength.
     
  5. Other countries like Canada, Israel, New Zealand etc. have placed women on par with men in the military
     
  6. The ruling of the Delhi high court 2010, in favour of appointing women.

In the light of the fact that the Indian army is facing an acute shortage of officers, do you think more women should be recruited to the forces? Examine the challenges and prospects of such a move. (200 Words)

The Indian armed forces have been facing an acute shortage of officers. Due to attractive jobs with better salaries in private sector young and mid-level career officers are moving to private sector, and the situation has worsened since 1990s. Economic reforms have widened the pay, lifestyle and social prestige gap between the armed forces and the private sector. Lack of officers mean that existing officers are overburdened. This has huge strategic implications when the army is involved in fighting insurgency in large parts of the country as well as training for its primary mission of defending the country from external forces. While women were allowed to join the armed forces in 1992, they could only join as Short Service Commission (SSC) officers able to serve for a maximum of 14 years and that too only in non-combat arms like Army education corps, Engineers, Signals etc. While recently women have been granted permanent commissions, the ban on service in combat units continues.

Prospects:

  1. The women already serving non-combat position were found to be serving their duty with integrity as compared to men.
  2. Women In India reflected the struggling ethos and has been part of Indian freedom struggle in form of Rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi ,Rani Gadinlieu of Assam. So they hold prospects in future as well.
  3. Further It would be significant boost to women empowerment and has spillover effect to general level of literacy, Health ,Employment of women in defence sector as well as other sector.
  4. Increased number of women in the armed forces will reduce the incidents of sexual abuses and human right violation at the hands of army men while maintaining national security. More women in army will help in bringing more gender sensitivity among the armed forces

Challenges:

  1. India is largely a patriarchal society with a traditional mindset. Thus, the men might not be very comfortable being commanded by women in the field.
  2. It is a biological fact that on average women are weaker than men. In combat units, which are necessarily intensely physical, any perceived weakness would lead to loss of respect of the subordinates. Which would make the task of women officers that much harder.
  3. The risk of getting captured as Prisoners of War (PoW’s) is highest for combat units. A women PoW could be a psychological blow.
  4. Due to biological differences, women need long mid-career breaks as maternity leave. Not only does this disrupt training, but also puts restrictions on the type of physical work that they can do before and after the leave. This would be a major challenge for combat roles.

The task before defence establishment is huge and is critical. Women regiments can be started on pilot basis and the results can be used to address the issues leading to regular induction of women in army, navy as well as air force. Like in other spheres, here also the bias against will disappear, sooner or later.

APPLICATION: Women essay, women empowerment, Role of judiciary in ensuring social justice.