Know The Law

Human Rights of Women in India


Shruti Snigdha, a 5th-Year B. A LL.B, Lovely Professional University Student has Written this Article Explaining ” Human Rights of Women in India”

Table of Contents


Human rights are the basic rights that are equally available to all and are inalienable. Everyone is entitled to human rights irrespective of any ground. Human rights are given just for mere existence. In India, these rights are clearly expressed in the Constitution of India as fundamental rights, and equal right is guaranteed to everyone without any discrimination. However, it is not the same with the human rights of women as stated in the constitutional provisions and legislation. Hence, there is a huge lacuna between what has been given in the legislation and what is really happening because of the practices and how Indian society is structured. In India, there has always been the existence of a male dominant society where the male is given a better position and is treated as someone of higher status than women. This is the main reason behind the poor condition of women.

Women are discriminated against, their rights are violated, and they are considered a weaker gender in all walks of life. However, Despite the constitution providing provisions that have been specially framed for women to empower and uplift them, the conditions of women have hardly improved. Undoubtedly, It is because of the lack of awareness of the rights among Indian women which further results in discrimination, exploitation, and harassment. Various legislations, rules, and policies have been framed to ensure and protect the rights of women, but most proved to be ineffective because these are still an act and no action has been taken. In this study, various rights under the Constitution and other legislation have been highlighted. The source of data is secondary and various reports, news articles and laws have been referred to.

Keywords: Women, Human Rights, Infringement, Discrimination, Crimes.


For writing this socio-legal research, a doctrinal method of research has been used and the data collected and interpreted for this research paper is of secondary nature. Also, This research focuses on women’s human rights in India and looks into how various human rights are provided to women via the constitution and legislation.


The research hypothesis of this research is regarding the question of whether the existing legal provisions are adequate and whether it protects women’s human rights provided to them under many legislations, schemes, and constitutions. Relevant laws and judgments have been analyzed to find the response.


Despite the legal provisions and international conventions focusing on women’s human rights, it has still been inadequate and of less benefit. Moreover, This paper studies how and in what ways women’s human rights are being violated.


Literature survey shows that in ancient times, women were given equal rights and status as that of male. Before women took part in many religious rituals and married the man of their liking but later their position in society fell and during the medieval period, women lost all their liberty and became victims. After independence, hope arose due to rule of law.


Achieving equality between men and women and getting rid of all types of discrimination against women are basic human rights and the main values of the United Nations. Nevertheless, women across the globe often have their human rights infringed throughout their lives, and focusing on the violation of women’s human rights has not been given as much importance as it should have been done. To attain equality between men and women, much attention must be given to understanding better how and in what ways women are being discriminated[1].

Women are underprivileged when it comes to receiving monetary resources and relies on men for a living. The work of women treated to be limited within the four walls of their house and it is her responsibility to do all the household chores. She has no source of income since such work is unrecognized and not paid. In addition, Even in the present world, even if women go out to work and is employed, when she comes home from work, she is bound to do all other house-related work. She is still given a low footing in the family and society as well. Changes cannot be made to law from dusk till dawn, but there are slight chances that the drawbacks can be made of lesser impact.[2].


Human rights are basic to any or all people in general, irrespective of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Number of human rights is the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to employment and education, etc. Also, Everyone is entitled to these rights without discrimination[1]. These rights are entitled to them since the day they’re born and it is inalienable. It is also called birth rights or basic rights or inherent rights. In addition, Human Rights include all civil, political, social, and cultural rights. It may be simply said that the rights which are available to any or all kinsmen by virtue of their existence may be termed human rights. All these rights are necessary to live a decent and dignified life.


Human Rights are Universal

Human right is universal because since the day an individual is born, they are entitled to it and everyone has the same right despite of the place they live, the race they belong to, what religion or culture they follow or what ethnicity they are of. Article 1 of the UDHR empresses about the universal nature of human rights. It states that each one is born without any restrictions and is born with equal dignity as the other and there is no such exception. Human rights are born along with every human regardless of religion, gender, caste, and nationality[4]. It shall be enforced without any restriction.

Human Rights are Inalienable

Due to the existence of individual, human rights are conferred on him. Regardless of any ground, human rights are inherent to everyone. Henceforth, It cannot be transferred or surrendered. It is inalienable because it cannot be taken away except in some cases or given away. Such right can only be restricted in case where he is found guilty of a crime[5].

Human Rights are Essential and Necessary

Moral, physical, social, and spiritual welfare is not possible in the absence of human rights. Human rights are necessary because they provide favorable conditions for uplifting people morally. It is essential for fulfilling the objective of human life.

Human Rights are Indivisible

Human rights cannot be further divided. Even if the other rights have been enjoyed, they cannot be denied.[6]

Human Rights are Dynamic

Human Rights are subject to change with the development of the state, economically culturally, politically, and socially. It is the work of the judges to interpret laws in sync with the social values that have changed[7].

Human Rights are Never Absolute

The rights of a man can never be absolute, there is always a restriction on the enjoyment of his rights and liberty. The state recognizes and guarantees such human rights which contribute to the common good.

Human Rights are Participative and Inclusive

Human rights cannot be further divided. Even if the other rights have been enjoyed, they cannot be denied.


  1. It ensures that basic human needs are met
  2. It shields the vulnerable group from exploitation
  3. It encourages people to speak and expresses their opinions
  4. It gives people the liberty to choose what religion they wish to practice
  5. It ensures equal opportunities to work
  6. It gives everyone the opportunity to be educated


  1. Social or Civil human rights
  2. Political human rights
  3. Economic human rights
  4. Cultural human rights


The government of India has been criticized by foreign institutions for its failure to look globally concerning issues related to the sharp increase in human rights violations and criticized how unwaveringly the government is not willing to take measures against the violations which lead to the deterioration of democratic values. On a three-day visit made by US Secretary of Defence, Lloyd J. Austin, he specifically gave importance to discussing the issue of human rights violations and questioned what actions the Modi government is going take to tackle the situation. Before the visit of the Secretary, the

U.S. Senate leader Senator Robert Menendez had sent a letter to him encouraging him to express concern regarding the invasion by the Modi Government on farmers ad journalists, and the issues in Jammu and Kashmir including the Citizenship Amendment Act.

The United Nations high commissioner for human rights Michelle Bachelet criticized India for pressurizing the journalists and making use of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and for recurring blackouts of communication in Jammu and Kashmir.


The United Nations is an international organization. Almost all the countries are members. The member countries of the United Nations must oblige to the rules which are mentioned in the Charter of the United Nations. Some of them are the promotion of human rights and basic liberty for everyone. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights contains the basic human rights which are entitled to everyone. It has been stated by the United Nations that the violation of women’s human rights is an infringement of the basic rights of humans. Moreover, The UN has enacted various treaties and declarations which address the human rights of women and provide guidelines to the governments on how to protect them[8].

The first and foremost thing to do in order to bring about equality between males and females is to do away with any type of discrimination against women. At the international level, the gender that is at the most risk is women. They are likely to be a victim of a violation of human rights.

Article 1 of the United Nations Charter

Article 1 of the Charter of the United Nations sets forth that the main aim of the United Nations is to encourage and support the basic freedoms of all without any discrimination. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948. The Declaration left no gender behind and used the term “everyone” to make sure all human beings were included equally. There was a handful of papers that assured some protection to women before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) came into existence through the United Nations. After the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was enforced, people all over the world relies on the human rights available widely to throw light on the problems faced by women and other minorities[9].

The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women was the only body that highlighted the rights of women and declared international women’s Year in 1975[10].

Following are some documents at a global level that protect women against any type of violence inflicted upon them:
  • Women’s Convention and Optional Protocol, 1981
  • Beijing Declaration and Platform for Auction, 1995
  • Basic Human Rights Documents
  • Conference Documents[11].


The principle of equality has been expressly incorporated in various provisions of the Constitution of India. However, The constitution not only ensures equal rights to women but also has given the state the power of protective discrimination in favor of women wherever necessary. In addition, India has signed various instruments and conventions to make sure that women are given equal rights as the other. Moreover, The most notable document India ratified in 1993 is the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women[12].

Some of the provision of the Constitution that gives all gender equal treatment and rights are:

●         Article 14

Any person shall not be denied equality before the law and the law should treat everyone equally. There shall not be any discrimination on the ground of religion, caste, and place of birth.

●       Article 15

Article 7 also speaks of equal protection against discrimination. Indian citizens also cannot be discriminated against based on their sex by any government authority, as the state cannot discriminate against any citizen on the sole basis of religion, race, caste, sex, and location. place of birth or one of them. It can frame special provisions for women and children.

●       Article 16

Everyone including women shall have equal opportunity in public employment irrespective of any ground[13].

●       Article 21

No one shall be denied the right of personal liberty, except in some cases. Moreover, Rights to life include the right to privacy, to live with dignity, etc[14].

●       Article 23

It prohibits the immoral trafficking of women and girl children [15].

●       Article 39(a)

It ensures that all citizens shall have equal rights to enough means of livelihood[16].

●       Article 39(d)

Both men and women should be paid an equal amount if the work done is the same.

●       Article 42

It ensures proper working conditions for all and guarantees maternity relief to pregnant women[17].

●       Article 51 A(e)

Every citizen has the duty to do away with practices that stain the image of women. In addition, It states that women shall be respected.

●       Article 243

It guarantees the reservation of seats for women in gram Panchayat.


Pre- Conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994

It prohibits from misusing techniques to determine the gender of the unborn child and helps avoid female foeticide. Moreover, It also protects the right to life of the female child[18].

Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956

This act prohibits the trafficking of women and young girls who are sexually exploited and forced into prostitution [19].

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005

Almost every woman in the household falls victim to cruel domestic violence. In addition, this act has especially been enacted to protect women from different forms of domestic violence such as physical, financial, verbal, emotional, or mental[20].

Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961

Dowry has been existing for the past decade. Despite making it a crime to ask or give dowry, it still exists in the present scenario despite modernization and developments. Thus, this act makes the act of giving or asking for dowry an offense whether it be on the wife’s or husband’s side.

National Commission for Women Act, 1990

If women have been denied their rights, they can file complaints to this commission[21]. This commission also gives economic support to lawsuits dealing with issues related to women’s rights[22].


All three organs of the government namely judiciary, executive, and legislature have equal responsibility at all central, state, and local levels towards the empowerment of women.

Vishaka v State of Rajasthan

It was held by Supreme Court that gender-specific violence such as sexual harassment, it could lead to issues related to inequality in employment. Thus, guidelines ensuring that women have equal working conditions and protection from sexual harassment were issued by Supreme Court.

Air India v Nergesh Mirza

The Supreme Court struck down discriminatory conditions requiring female workers to acquire permission from the government before marrying and denying marriage and pregnant women the right to be employed.[23]

Maya Devi v. State of Maharashtra

The Court quashed the provision where the wife was required to take the consent of her husband for the application of public employment as it created inequality for women and economic injustice as well[24].

Mackinnon Mackenzie & Co. Ltd v. Audrey D’Costa

In this case, there was discrimination in the payment of wages where the lady stenographers were paid less compared to the male. Hence, the Supreme Court held that it should be made compulsory that lady stenographers are paid equally to men.


Air India v. Nergesh Meerza

The Supreme Court held denial of a job to a woman just because she is a woman is a strict violation of Article 14 of the Constitution. In this case, the air hostesses of Air Lines and Air India have challenged the service rules which stated that they will lose their job if they get pregnant and shall retire upon reaching the age of thirty-five unless the term is extended. Moreover, these provisions were declared to be unethical, cruel, unreasonable, unconstitutional, and completely disrespectful to Indian womanhood[25].

Miss C.B Muthamma V. Union of India

In this case, women were denied seniority promotion in the Indian Foreign Service. It was held by the Apex Court that discrimination against women in seniority promotion was unconstitutional as it violated Article 15 of the Constitution, and it portrays how the patriarchal-based society looks at the minority group of society[26].

As Rule 8(2) of the Indian Foreign Service Rules, 1961 required an unmarried woman to take permission from the Government before she marries, and after marriage, if it is felt that her family life affects her efficacy to be appointed to the service, she may be asked to resign, ultra vires Article 15 of the Constitution, the rules have been removed.


  1. Beti Bachao Beti Padhao
  2. Swadhar Greh
  3. Ujjwala Scheme
  4. Pradhan Mantri Matru Vanadana Yojana
  • Rashtriya Mahila Kosh
  • Mahila E-haat
  • Mahila Shakti Kendra


In India, since the earlier period, the status of women has not been in a very developed state. During the medieval period, practices such as sati, child marriage, dowry, female foeticide, and female infanticide resulted in the further downfall of the status of women. The male child was referred to as a female. With the change in time, there have been implementations of various measures and programs, which focused on improving the status of women. However, women are still striving to hold up their freedom and dignity. Currently, Indian women are facing the hardest time both physically and mentally because them being unaware of information related to the legal and constitutional rights that woman has in India.

The constitution protects women by providing rights and more over empower states to use protective discrimination in favor of women, right against being exploited, various freedom, and allowing women to represent women in politics. In addition, Some measures that could be taken to provide equal rights to women are employment opportunities, participation in productive activities, education, etc. However, no matter how many measures are being taken, if equality doesn’t start from home, then the chances of providing equality to women in the society at large seems to be a minute one and the inability to secure the right of women’s human right would make the whole point of human rights useless and invalid[27].


[1] Human Rights, available at:  

[2] Essential Characteristic of Human Rights of Citizens, available at:

[3] Reasons Why Human Rights Are Important, available at:

[4] ibid

[5]Reasons Why Human Rights Are Important, available at:

[6] ibid

[7] What Kinds of Human Rights Exists, available at:

[8] Why UN human rights chief’s criticism of India comes off as ‘selective,’ available at:

[9] Chapter 1: Purposes and Principles, available at:

[10] United Nations Decade for Women, available at:

[11] What is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, available at:

[12] Constitution of India, available at:

[13] Article 16 of the Indian Constitution, available at:

[14] The Article 21 in The Constitution of India 1949, available at:

[15] Article 23, available at: rights/articles/ Article%2023

[16] The Article 39(a) in The Constitution of India, available at:

[17] Article 42, available at:  

[18] Role of PPNDT Act, 1994, available at: natal-diagnostic-techniques-prohibition-of-sex-selection-act-1994/

[19] CADAW and India, available at:

[20] PWD Act, available at: violence-act

[21] Analysis of Role of NCW, available at:

[22] Indian Schemes for Women Empowerment, available at: 680804.html

[23] AIR 1981 SC 1829

[24] 1986(1) SCR 743

[25] AIR 1987 SC 1281

[26] AIR 1981 SC 1829

[27] Human Trafficking, available at:

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