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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Petition in SC:
- Petition sought the declaration of the ‘two-child norm’ as a mandatory criterion for government jobs, aids and subsidies and urged that the law dealing with the condition for recognition of a state or national party be suitably amended in this direction.
The plea lists the following appeals:
- The non-compliance of the norm should lead to the withdrawal of citizens statutory rights including the right to vote and contest elections.
- Declaring of first Sunday of every month as ‘health day’ to spread awareness against population explosion and providing contraceptive pills, condoms, vaccines to economically-weaker sections and families below poverty line.
- Setting 21 years as the minimum marriageable age for all citizens.
- Implementation of the 24th recommendation of the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC) which proposes to control the population by means of education and implementation of small family norms.
- The two-child norm for contesting local body elections has been adopted by states like Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Haryana has yielded very positive results in reducing the population growth in those states.
- People representatives are not only public servants but also lawmakers. Hence they should set an example for others for adopting two child norms so that common people of the country can be encouraged to emulate two-child norm.
- The appeal argues that even though India was the first country in the world to have a population policy, it has not achieved much in terms of population control due to the negligence of governments.
Meaning of Adultery: voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not their spouse.
- Drop adultery as a criminal offence from the statute book.
- The petition challenges the validity of Section 198 (1) and (2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure which deems that only a husband can be an aggrieved party in offences against marriage like adultery and only he can go to court.
Supreme Court observations:
- The dusty Victorian provision of adultery in the Indian Penal Code treats a married woman as her husband’s “subordinate.”
- Time has come when the society must realise that a woman is equal to a man in every respect.
- Section 497 of the IPC mandates that “Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery and shall be punished.”
- Section 497 is a kind of “romantic paternalism,” which stemmed from the assumption that women, like chattels, are the property of men.
- Section 497 gave husbands the exclusive right as an aggrieved party to prosecute the adulterer in a case involving his wife, a similar right has not been conferred on a wife to prosecute the woman with whom her husband has committed adultery.
Wife has no right to prosecute her husband:
- The provision does not confer any right on the wife to prosecute her husband for adultery. The law also does not take into account cases where the husband has sexual relations with an unmarried woman. Thus, the provision deems that “husbands have a free licence under the law to have extra-marital relationships with unmarried women.”
Court to examine two provisions:
- Why does Section 497 treat the man as the adulterer and the married woman as a victim.
- The offence of adultery ceases the moment it is established that the husband connived or consented to the adulterous act. So, is a married woman the “property” of her husband or a passive object without a mind of her own?
- Centre said the provision punishing adultery – Section 497 of IPC – supports, safeguards and protects the institution of marriage considering the unique structure and culture of Indian society.
- The government agreed to the thought that stability of a marriage is not an ideal to be scorned and striking down Section 497 would destroy the fabric of society itself.
- The apex court had earlier on three separate occasions, in 1954, 1985 and 1988, upheld the constitutionality of Section 497.
SC Final Verdict:
- The law became defunct on 27 Sep 2018 by Supreme Court of India.
- The Supreme Court called the law unconstitutional because it “treats a husband as the master.”
- Bench held adultery is not a crime and struck it off the Indian Penal Code.
- Two individuals may part if one cheats, but to attach criminality to infidelity is going too far.
- How married couples deal with adultery is absolutely a matter of privacy.
- Punishing each other or the wife’s lover is unlikely to re-kindle commitment.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- Beyond the SSC, in permanent commission tenure women could be exposed to hostile environments, also the unique nature of responsibility and organisational requirement.
- The attendant hazard and trauma, possibility of being made a prisoner of war
These reasons appear farce and reflect a patriarchal mindset because :
- 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.
- Ability v/s gender : As long as an individual is qualified for a position, the gender is arbitrary.
- 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.
- Technology and gender: In modern high technology battlefield, technical expertise and decision making skills are increasingly more valuable than simple brute strength.
- Other countries like Canada, Israel, New Zealand etc. have placed women on par with men in the military
- 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.
- The women already serving non-combat position were found to be serving their duty with integrity as compared to men.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- The risk of getting captured as Prisoners of War (PoW’s) is highest for combat units. A women PoW could be a psychological blow.
- 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.