Advocacy

A significant portion of Vikalp’s work is devoted to advocacy with local and state governments, education administrations and other bodies on women’s issues. As well as providing counseling and advice to government officials on legislation regarding the legal rights and protection of women and the effectiveness of laws, we help raise awareness in communities about their rights and responsibilities under existing laws, and advocate for their proper enforcement.

Currently, Vikalp focuses on three significant laws and their implementation:

The Prevention of Child Marriage Act of 2006

This Act was passed in 2006 as a replacement to the Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929. This Act outlaws any marriage in which one of the contracting parties is under the legal age of marriage, age 21 for men and 18 for women. The law also stipulates that the guardians of minors who are contracted into a child marriage are responsible for breaking the law and consequently are punishable by a jail sentence, a fine, or both.

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005

In 2005, the Indian parliament passed this Act to provide women with more protection from domestic violence and abuse under Indian law. This act extends coverage under the Act to all women living in household with domestic violence, including wives, sisters, mothers, daughters and widows. The Act also expands the definition of domestic violence and abuse to include actual abuse or the threat of abuse whether physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economic. In this way, unlawful dowry demands are also considered domestic violence.

The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act of 1994 (PCPNDT Act)

This act was passed by the Indian government in 1994 to prevent female feticide and address the drastically declining sex ratio in India. Due to advances in ultrasound technology, families are able to determine the sex of their unborn child; this led to a rise in sex-selective abortions and female feticide in the past few decades. The Act aims to prevent this occurrence by requiring all sonography and ultrasound clinics to be registered with the government and prohibiting them from running tests to determine the sex of a baby.