With independence, women were granted equal status with men. The government made an all out effort to raise the status of women in the various fields through legislation. Compulsory education, the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, rising of marriageable age, the Adoption Act, 1956, Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 and legalizing of abortion are all in favour of women. But the law alone is not enough to bring about a radical change. With rapid urbanization and industrialization of the century, exploitation of women in recent years has been a serious menace to our society.
Notwithstanding the multiplication of legislation on various fields, with a view to improve the social, political and economic conditions and status of women, even the ancient forms of victimization, child marriage and premature consummation resulting in early and dangerous pregnancies, sati, female infanticide, illegal abortions, dowry deaths, rape, eve-teasing and various other forms of molestation of women still continue. In fact, since the passing of the Dowry Prohibition Act and even after several amendments to the I.P.C, Cr. P.C. and the Evidence Act, dowry deaths are on the increase. There is the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 to secure women’s right to divorce and the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 to secure women’s right to property.
The advancement of reproduction technology has brought in the new phenomenon of female feticide. One study revealed that nearly 100 percent of the aborted fetuses were females.
Women’s health is given consideration only in terms of maternity, leaving beyond the reproductive age, young, unmarried girls and widows outside health and nutrition schemes. The government’s family planning programmers have a heavy gender bias.
The condition of elderly women is also not satisfactory especially those of widows. She has to earn as to run the house and raise her children. If she does not earn, her condition is even worse. If the widow has no issues, she has to work hard as a maid servant in her husbands’ joint family or relatives’ house who might have taken her in and is totally dependent, for all her needs, on others. She has neither economic security nor a say in decisions concerning her and her children. Families still believe that once a daughter is given away in marriage, she cannot be given away again to another person, Hence, widow remarriage, though sanctioned by Hindu Widows Remarriage Act of 1856, seldom takes place and is discouraged.
Thus, we see that condition of Indian woman is very much shocking. The life of woman in India is still surrounded by violence, neglect and exploitation. Love is the reward, but where is the reward of the husband and the in-laws if don’t appreciate the bride’s services? Perhaps nowhere, except the fire on her clothes and her body. This is happening everywhere in our country these days and the number is increasing alarmingly. Even the educated urban and well informed women are exposed to such events. The committee on the status of women in India rightly concludes that the entire exercise of our committees has indicated that in certain important areas and for certain sections of the female population there has been repression from the normative attitudes developed during the freedom movement. Large sections of women have suffered a decline of economic status. Even after the promulgation of these laws (legal measures) the protection enjoyed by the large masses of women don’t numerically constitute a minority, they are beginning to acquire the features of a minority community by the recognized dimensions of inequality of class, economic situation, status (social position) and political power! Sadly even after independence, India got freedom but women didn’t!