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NIOS Class 12 Sociology Chapter 34 Problems Of Women
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Problems Of Women
OPTIONAL MODULE 1: STATUS OF WOMEN
INTEXT QUESTIONS 34.1
Fill in the blanks:
1. The Act of banning Sex Selection Tests was passed in India in the year …………….. .
2. The act of killing a female child before it is born is called …………….. .
Ans. Female foeticide.
3. The number of female children per 1,000 male children in the age group 0-6 years is called ………………. .
Ans. Child sex ratio.
4. The constant decline in the number of females in the country’s population is explained by using the term …………… .
Ans. Missing millions.
INTEXT QUESTIONS 34.2
Choose the Correct Answer:
1. When a wife is beaten by her husband in her household it is best known as:
(a) Sexual abuse.
(b) Domestic Violence.
(c) Crime against a woman.
(d) Marital Conflict.
Ans. (b) Domestic Violence.
2. The Domestic Violence Bill is waiting to be cleared by:
(b) National Human Rights Commission.
(c) National Commission for Women.
(d) Department of Women and Child Development.
Ans. (a) Parliament.
3. Domestic violence accounts for ……………. % of the crimes against women.
Ans. (c) 30.
4. Which among the following is the most effective way of condemning domestic violence?
(a) Family Quarrel.
(b) Police Torture.
(c) Breaking ties with the family.
(d) Neighbourbood action.
Ans. (d) Neighbourbood action.
INTEXT QUESTIONS 34.3
State whether the following statements are True or False:
1. The Dowry Prohibition Act was first passed in the year 1962. (True/False)
2. The 1986 Amendment to the Dowry Prohibition Act made any unnatural death of a woman within seven years of marriage punishable by law. (True/False)
3. Dowry can be equated with a gift. (True/False)
4. As per the provisions of the Dowry Prohibition Act, those who give dowry are also liable for punishment. (True/False)
INTEXT QUESTIONS 34.4
Answer the following questions in one sentence:
1. What was the first rape law passed in India?
Ans. The first rape law was passed in 1860 in India.
2. What is custodial rape?
Ans. Rape in police custody is called custodial rape.
3. Name the case, which was responsible for the judgement relating to Sexual Harassment at Work Place?
Ans. Vishaka Vs The State of Rajasthan.
4. When was the Widow Remarriage Act passed?
Ans. The Widow Remarriage Act was passed in 1856.
Answer the following questions in 200-300 words:
1. Define female foeticide and female infanticide and explain their causes.
Ans. I. Meaning of female foeticide: The killing of female foetuses is known as female. foeticide.
II. Causes of female foeticide:
(i) Use of medical tests: Every year thousands and thousands of female infants are killed while they are still in mother’s womb. By using medical tests such as scanning it is possible to detect the sex of the unborn foetus. With the help of doctors any paramedical staff, some parents resort to the inhuman practices of aborting female foetuses.
(ii) Financial Burden: Unwise parents justify killing of female babies even before their birth by saying that a daughter would bring an enormous amount of financial burden in future, as they have to pay dowry to get married and, hence they would rather not allow her to be born. This expenditure is in addition to the gift or cash, they are expected to hand over to the son-in-law in the form of dowry.
(iii) Poverty of the parents is another cause of it.
III. Meaning of female Infanticide: There is a widely prevalent belief in our society that female infanticide was an inhuman practice, which was in existence only in ancient times. But the merciless killings of newly born female infants taking place in different parts of the country have shown us that female infanticide is not a forgotton incident of a by gone age, but very much a present reality. While several thousands of female infants are killed even before they are born, thousands and thousands of others are murdered immediately after their birth. This practice is more common among poor households, because, for killing a financial resources are required, but a newborn infant can be killed by stuffing poisonous food grains, through strangulation or suffocation. Media has reported on the wide-spread prevalence of female infanticide in some regions of Tamilnadu, Bihar and Rajasthan. Yet, to this day the practice has not been checked. There are police outposts in most of the regions, but they have done precious little to check its occurrence. Has any parent been punished for an act, which is nothing short of murder?
IV. Causes of female Infanticide:
(i) Proverty and other socio-economic reasons: If parents have to reach a stage, where they can kill an urban foetus or a newborn child, what could be the reason? Is it poverty alone or are there other reasons? In our society, which is male dominated, for centuries, preference has been given to male children because there is a belief that a son not only carries the family’s name forward but will also provide the security and shelter needed by his parents in their old age.
(ii) Patriocal system and patrilineal families and economic consideration: Since a majority of Indian families are patrilocal (a system of residence where a woman, upon marriage moves to her husband’s house) and patrilineal (a system of inheritance where property is transferred in the male line) many families are reluctant to spend money on a daughter’s future development. Their argument is that resources spent on a daughter’s upbringing actually bring no returns in terms of economic rewards. So economic consideration carry an important weight in decisions to kill female foetuses or infants.
(iii) To check division of agricultural land holdings: You will be surprised to know that even in many rich families female foetuses or infants are killed because they do not want the property to be taken out of the family in the form of dowry. This is especially true of families with large and holdings.
(iv) Wrong attitudes of the people: A female is always viewed as lesser than a male. Her status is lower. She is seen as a daughter, wife or mother of a male rather than an individual with an independent identity of her own. These kinds of attitudes form a low value synodrome around the female sex, which works towards perpetuating such practices as female infanticide.
Q.2. What is domestic violence? Give some examples and show it can be checked.
Ans. I. What is Domestic Violence: Violence against women can occur either within their households or outside. Family is considered the safest place for its members, but this illusion has been proved wrong by the experiences of women who face the threat of violence in their own homes. The term ‘domestic violence’ refers to destructive acts which cause physical injury or harm to a woman in her household. The term domestic violence is generally used to refer to physical abuse, but it should also include deprivatins, which members of a family may experience, through not necessarily physical abuse. Look at this example, and you will understand, what I am trying to convey. A daughter who is not sent to school and forcibly confined to domestic work or denied nutritious food, while sons receive the best of food, best of education and all other facilities for development. In the above insance, there may be no physical abuse involved, but the fact that a girl child is prevented from enjoying the rights conferred on her is also a form of violence.
II. Some examples of Domestic Violence and efforts or steps to check it:
(a) It is shocking but true that about 30 per cent of the crimes against women are committed within the household. Domestic violence includes such acts as wife battering, subjecting daughters to physical abuse, harassment for dowry, which may result in dowry death and forcibly confining women to the house. Domestic violence is surrounded by a culture of silence because, what goes on inside. The home is generally considered ‘private’.
(b) Even when women are being assaulted or tortured in their homes, the neighbourhood’s attitude is generally one of disinterestedness or, non-interference in someone else’s personal life. On many occasions, even the police treat causes of domestic violence as personal quarrels and fail or even refuse to take action. It is only when continued victimization results in murder, suicide or grievous physical injury that society wakes up. But by then the damage is already done.
(c) Look at this case of Asha, who was being subjected to physical harassment every day by her parents-in-law, husband and his sisters. The cause for this ill treatment was dowry demand. The neighbours were fully aware of what was happening to Asha, but they did not interfere or inform the police. One night, Asha was set on fire and it was only when her screams was heard that the neighbourhood choose to act. By the time the police and Asha’s parents came on the scene. Asha had sustained burns all over her body and lay unconscious. They had arrived too late. Asha’s parents were inconsolable. They felt extremely guilty that whenever their daughter pleaded with them to take her away from this oppressive family atmosphere, they had convinced her that a wife’s place was in her husband’s home and that matters would settle soon. The case of Asha is not an isolated incident. Scores of women have fallen a prey to domestic violence and yet, physical and mental abuse of women in their conjugal/marital families continues unchecked.
(d) In most families men and women do not enjoy the same amount of power. This is the single most important cause of domestic violence. Even when women, who are economically self-sufficient are not free to take independent decisions, one can imagine the situations of women who are dependent on their husbands. It is socially acceptable that within the household, the male is the master and the woman, the subordinate partner. Often, social pressures force women to tolerate abuse in order to safeguard family honour. It is also true that support services for women, such as shelter homes, or security centres are very few and hence women find it difficult to escape from an oppressive family atmosphere. With little support either from within or outside their family circles domestic violence remains a major threat to women.
III. Suggestion to check or reduce domestic violence:
1. First and foremost, cases of domestic abuse must be treated as crimes against women and not as a ‘personal matter’ between the residents of the household.
2. Women must learn to bring the existence of violence to the notice of their parents, friends, women’s organizations and the police.
3. Tolerating violence in the name of safeguarding family honour will not help matters, but will only aggravate the situation.
4. The law enforcing agencies must play an activities’ role in countering cases of domestic violence.
5. Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code was introduced with the intention of preventing harassment of married women for dowry.
6. However, provisions under the Act can be applied in situations of domestic violence and marital cruelty as well.
7. There is no specific law to deal with domestic violence. The Domestic Violence Prevention Bill is still waiting to be cleared by the Parliament.
8. What is needed is the will to apply the provisions of the existing law to cases of domestic violence and punish the guilty.
Q.3. Explain the provisions of the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 and the amendments of 1984 and 1986.
Ans. I. The Provisions of the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961: Realizing the menace of dowry, the Government of India passed the Dowry Prohibition Act in the year 1961. The Act had defined dowry as ‘property given in consideration of marriage and as a condition of the marriage taking place.’ Both giving and receiving dowry were considered offences under the Act, but it was a non-cognizable (an offence, which cannot be punished under the provisions of the law) and bailable (an offence for, which a suspect can be given bail) offence, which carried a maximum punishment of six months and/or a fine of Rupees five thousand.
II. Amendments of 1984 and 1986: As a consequences of further pressure mounted by the women’s movement the Dowry Prohibition Act was amended in 1984, and the words’ as consideration of marriage’ were replaced by the words ‘in connection with marriage’. The punishment was increased to a minimum period of five years and a fine of up to Rupees ten thousand, or the value of the dowry, which ever was more. The one-year limitation, which was imposed by the 1961 Act for filing a complaint, was removed and it was now made possible for the girl’s parents, relatives or a social work institution to file a complaint on her behalf. Another clause in the Act of 1961 that prior sanction of the government was necessary for prosecuting a husband, who had demanded dowry also dropped by the 1984 Amendment.
The Act was again amended in the year 1986. The amendment which was aimed at making the Act even more stringent increased the penalty to Rupees 15,000 and shifted the burden of proof to the accused. The amendment also made any unnatural death of a women within seven years of marriage punishable under section 304 of the Indian Penal Code.
Q.4. Mention the main features of the rape law.
Ans. The main features of the Rape Law:
(i) The increasing incidence of rape is sending shockwaves throughout the country. But how do you combat rape? The first rape law in India was passed in the year 1860. For 123 years, that is, till 1983 the law remained unchanged. The law against rape was heavily biased against women. Until it was amended in 1983, it was left to the victim herself to prove ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’ that she had not consented to sexual intercourse. The only proof, which was accepted by the court, was one of serious physical injury. In the Mathura rape case, the policemen who were responsible were acquitted, but this judgement brought forth widespread protests and demand for changes in the rape law. The 1983 amendment was a response to these protests and two significant changes were brought forth in the rape law. These were:
(a) The inclusion of custodial rape as an offense. and
(b) Awarding a minimum of 7 years imprisonment for offenders, and for persons found guilty of custodial rape, gang rape, rape of pregnant women and girls below 12 years of age, and a minimum of 10 years imprisonment.
(ii) In a landmark judgement delivered in 1983 the court also held that additional corroboration of a rape victim’s testimony was not required. The court added that, in the circumstances prevailing in Indian society, refusal to act on the testimony of the victim was adding insult to injury. The Indian Evidence (amendment) Bill 2002 amending the original Act of 1872 deleted two clauses, which show that the victim of rape or attempted rape is of generally immeral character.
(iii) The 1983 amendment, no doubt brought elements of judicial activism [judiciary playing the role of an activist who will bring to a victim, the justice, which she actually deserves] into the rape law, but even today, a large number of rape cases go either unreported or unpunished.
(iv) The strong social stigma attached to rape and the tendency to fix responsibility on the woman for a rape incident hold many women back from lodging complaints or pursuing the case. A progressive judiciary as well as police force can go a long way in not only punishing tenders, but also checking the incidence of rape in our society. The public on their part must also come forward to condemn inhuman acts such as rape.
(v) Rape poses a serious challenge to women’s empowerment. The fear or threat of rape keeps many girls and women from aspiring for or achieving social mobility. Parents may also use this as a convenient tool for discouraging their daughters from the pursuit of higher goals in life. The quest for gender equality can not make any headway, if sexual abuse of women continues unchecked.
SOME OTHER IMPORTANT QUESTIONS FOR EXAMINATION
VERY SHORT ANSWER TYPE QUESTIONS
Q.1. What are the major causes for a reduction in India’s female population?
Ans. Have you ever thought about the fact that female foeticide and infanticide are among the major causes for a reduction in this country’s female popultion? Child sex ratios (children in the age group 0-6 years) have declined so sharply during the last 10 years that today there are only 927 girls per 1000 boys, as against 945 per 1000 in 1991. If this menace is not stopped, in the years to come, millions of girls will disappear from our midst.
Q.2. Define the word/term “Problem”.
Ans. A problem can be defined as a condition, which is a source of trouble, discomfort or inconvenience for a person. It is also a situation which comes in the way of a person exercising his or her choices in life and enjoying the rights conferred on him or her by the Constitution or law.
Q.3. What is Dowry? Briefly write its meaning.
Ans. What is Dowry: Dowry refers to the gifts given in cash or kind to the bridegroom or/ and his family by the parents of a girl during her marriage. Dowry is most often a demand placed by a man or his family as a precondition to the marriage. The amount or the type of dowry to be given is mostly decided at the time of fixing a marriage. Most families consider marriage the ultimate goal of a woman’s life. They are ready to go to any extent to get their daughter married off, even if it comes to selling their hard earned and along with it, their self-respect.
Q.4. Mention the main types of misbehaviour or sexual harassment in the work place.
Ans. A group of honourable judges of the apex court of India has identified the following five types of behaviour in the work place as cases of sexual harassment.
(i) Physical contact or advancing in such a manner as to suggest sexual contact.
(ii) Coercion or request for sexual favours.
(iii) Use of sexist language.
(iv) Displaying literature.
(v) Any physical or oral act, which includes unwanted sexual elements.
Q.5. What major direction is given to the employer to check the sexual harassment at working place? Briefly write.
Ans. The Supreme Court also directed all employers, be it in the ‘organized sector or un-organized sector to appoint a committee against sexual harassment at work place. It is binding on this committee to enquire into complaints registered and also to initiate action against those responsible for acts fo sexual harassment.
6. What was attitude of Indian society towards widowhood before 1855?
Ans. In the traditional social system, widowhood was considered a curse and widows did not enjoy any status either in the family or at large. A widow was considered impure, and a dark spot on the family honour. Widows lived in virtual physical and social isolation and since they had no right of ‘remarriage’, their future was virtually doomed.