Despite several laws having been promulgated in the country to protect the rights of women, often they are unable to reach out and take benefit of that, claimed Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay of the Calcutta High Court.
Justice Gangopadhyay was speaking at a seminar on the great Indian social reformer, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, whose 251st birth anniversary will be celebrated on Monday.
As an example Justice Gangopadhyay, who had been recently in the national headlines because of his verdict in the school recruitment case in West Bengal, referred to the law regarding maternity leave to substantiate his argument.
"There is a specific law on this count. But in many cases women, especially coming from the financially backward sections, do not get benefit out of it. The reason is poverty and lack of awareness. This discrimination continues among the financially backward sections," Justice Gangopadhyay said.
On this matter, he also reminded that it took as long as 11 years to introduce the law on maternity leave since the discussions to introduce the same started in 1950.
Justice Gangopadhyay also referred to the delayed introduction of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 and The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, commonly known as the PoSH Act.
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"Even verbal abuse or attacking a woman on personal matters is equivalent to harassment. A woman facing such things has the right to approach the law enforcement authorities concerned. But unfortunately many in our country are not aware of the concept of women's dignity. The implementation of law as regards to mental harassment against women is much more in Europe and USA," Justice Gangopadhyay said.
As regards to PoSH Act, his observation was that while women subordinates at offices often hesitate to report cases of sexual harassment, there are also incidents that some women misuse the provisions of that Act.
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