Top 10 Legal Rights Every Women Should Know

Top 10 Women’s Rights in India

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, some part of our nation still does not believe in empowering women. Daughters, sisters, wives, mothers are suffering from a lot more than physical assault – MENTAL TRAUMA. Privatization, Liberalization, and Globalization has already been initiated by the government but the staggering changes for women that have come about over decades in families, in religion, in government, in employment, in education – did not just happen spontaneously. Women themselves made these changes happen, very deliberately.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Equal Remuneration Act (1976): Ensures gender-based wage equality and prevents discrimination in employment.
  2. Dowry Prohibition Act (1961): Addresses the social evil of dowry, penalizing its giving or taking during marriages.
  3. Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act (1956): Combats prostitution, particularly involving children, with strict penalties for offenders.
  4. Maternity Benefit Act (1961): Safeguards the employment of women during maternity, providing paid leave.
  5. Medical Termination Of Pregnancy Act (1971): Regulates the termination of pregnancies under specific conditions.
  6. Commission Of Sati (Prevention) Act (1987): Prohibits the practice of Sati and glorification associated with it.
  7. Prohibition Of Child Marriage Act (2006): Defines child marriage and provides for its annulment.
  8. Pre-Conception & Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (1994): Bans sex-selective techniques and promotes responsible use of prenatal diagnostic methods.
  9. Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act (2013): Addresses and prevents sexual harassment at workplaces.
  10. Hindu Succession Act (Amendment) (2005): Ensures daughters’ equal rights to ancestral property.
Women's Rights in India

Women empowerment means the emancipation of women from the vicious grips of social, economic, political, caste and gender-based discrimination. It means granting women the freedom to make life choices. Women’s empowerment does not mean ‘deifying women’ rather it means replacing patriarchy with parity.

In this regard, these are the women rights in India

1. The Equal Remuneration Act (1976)

“The act aims to provide for the payment of equal remuneration to men and women workers and for the prevention of discrimination, on the ground of sex, against women in the matter of employment and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”

women rights in india

The purpose of the act is to make sure that employers do not discriminate on the basis of gender, in matters of wage-fixing, transfers, training and promotion. It provides for payment of equal remuneration to men and women workers, for the same work or work of similar nature and for the prevention of discrimination against women in the matters of employment.

2. The Dowry Prohibition Act (1961)

“The act specifies that the penalty for giving or taking dowry does not apply to presents which are given at the time of a marriage to the bride or bridegroom when no demand for them has been made.”

The problem of dowry has become a serious social evil among the upper castes and middle classes both in towns and villages. The rules of marriage, namely, caste endogamy and clan exogamy, and anuloma (hypergamy) and pratiloma (hypogamy), have been misinterpreted and misused for maintaining the dowry system. These rules restrict the choice of mate selection, as the marriage takes place within one’s caste and outside one’s clan.

3. The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act (1956)

“The first section of the act has provisions that outline the illegality of prostitution and the punishment for owning a brothel or a similar establishment, or for a living off earnings of prostitution as is in the case of a pimp. Section five of the act states that if a person procures, induces or takes a child for the purpose of prostitution then the prison sentence is a minimum of seven years but can be extended to life.”

Any person committing prostitution in public with a child shall be punishable to seven-year in prison up to life imprisonment, or a term which may extend to ten years and also a maximum fine of one lakh rupees. If prostitution of a child is being committed with the knowledge of an establishment owner such as a hotel the license of the hotel is likely to be canceled along with the given prison sentence and/or fines.

4. The Maternity Benefit Act (1961)

“The act protects the employment of women during the time of her maternity and entitles her of a ‘maternity benefit’ i.e. full paid absence from work – to take care of her child. The act is applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more persons. The amendments will help 1.8 million (approx.) women workforce in the organized sector”

Every woman shall be entitled to, and her employer shall be liable for, the payment of maternity benefit, which is the amount payable to her at the rate of the average daily wage for the period of her actual absence. The maximum period for which any woman shall be entitled to maternity benefit shall be 12 weeks in all whether taken before or after childbirth. However she cannot take more than six weeks before her expected delivery.

 5. The Medical Termination Of The Pregnancy Act (1971)

“An Act to provide for the termination of certain pregnancies by registered medical practitioners and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”

Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 (MTP Act) was implemented from Apr.1972. Implemented rules and regulations were again revised in 1975 to eliminate time-consuming procedures for the approval of the place and to make services more readily available. The preamble is very clear in stating that termination of pregnancy would be permitted in certain cases. The cases in which the termination is permitted are elaborated in the Act itself. 

6. The Commission Of Sati (Prevention) Act (1987)

“The Act seeks to prevent Sati practice or the voluntary or forced burning or burying alive of widows, and to prohibit glorification of this action through the observance of any ceremony, the participation in any procession, the creation of a financial trust, the construction of a temple, or any actions to commemorate or honor the memory of a widow who committed sati.”

Sati is an ancient Hindu practice where the widow immolated herself on the funeral pyre of her husband. They deemed it to be a great honor to be able to commit sati and Goddess Sati was idolized by the society. However, the practice is still in vogue in some parts of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. In light of these incidents, the Government of India enacted the Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987.  Sati was first banned under Bengal Sati Regulation, 1829.

7. The Prohibition Of Child Marriage Act (2006)

“The act defines child marriage as marriage in which either the girl or the boy is underage, i.e., the girl is under 18 years of age or the boy is younger than 21 years’.

According to the act, a child is a male who has not completed twenty-one years of age and a female who has not completed eighteen years of age. Child marriage is a contract between any two people of which either one or both parties is a child. Child marriage that took place before or after this act can be made void by the person who was a child at the time of marriage. But the marriage must be voided before the person who was a child completes their second year of maturity.

8. The Pre-Conception & Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act (1994)

“The main purpose of enacting the act is to ban the use of sex selection techniques after conception and prevent the misuse of a prenatal diagnostic technique for sex-selective abortion.”


The act prohibits medical personnel from conducting or helping anyone conduct sex-selection. All medical equipment regarding pregnancies shall be sold only to registered clinics. All prenatal diagnostic techniques are banned except for the detection of chromosomal abnormalities, genetic metabolic diseases, sex-linked genetic diseases, congenital anomalies, any other abnormalities or diseases as may be specified by the Central Supervisory Board; only as long as there is a potential threat to the child as outlined in the act. No person is allowed to divulge the sex of a child in any form of communication, no clinic or person is allowed to conduct sex determination tests, and no person shall commit the act or sex selection or aid in doing so.

9. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place (Prevention and Protection) Act (2013)

An Act to provide protection against sexual harassment of women at workplace and for the prevention and redressal of complaints of sexual harassment and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”

harassment of women

Sexual harassment is against the law. Some types of sexual harassment may also be offences under criminal law and should be reported to the police, including indecent exposure, stalking, sexual assault and obscene or threatening communications, such as phone calls, letters, emails, text messages and postings on social networking sites. 

10. The Hindu Succession Act (Amendment) (2005)

“It revised rules on coparcenary property, giving daughters of the deceased equal rights with sons, and subjecting them to the same liabilities and disabilities. The amendment essentially furthers equal rights between males and females in the legal system.”

hindu succession act

Under the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, females are granted ownership of all property acquired either before or after the signing of the Act, abolishing their “limited owner” status. However, it was not until the 2005 Amendment that daughters were allowed equal receipt of property as with sons. This invariably grants females property rights.

Indian society consists of people belonging to almost all kinds of religious beliefs. In every religion, women are given a special place and every religion teaches us to treat women with respect and dignity. But somehow the society has so developed that various types of ill practices, both physical and mental, against women have become a norm for ages. Therefore, the concept of women empowerment not only focuses on giving women strength and skills to rise above from their miserable situation but at the same time it also stresses the need to educate men regarding women issues and inculcating a sense of respect and duty towards women as equals. In the present write-up, we will try to describe and understand the concept of Women’s rights in India in all its dimensions.


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