New Delhi: In 2021, India slipped 28 places and ranked 140th among 156 nations participating in the rankings of the gender gap as per the Global Gender Gap report prepared by World Economic Forum. To help contribute towards reducing this gender inequality by empowering women with the knowledge of their legal rights, Pink Legal – India’s first and only portal, which provides information to girls and women about their legal rights was founded.
As we mark the National Girl Child Day today (January 24) in India, we speak to the founder & CEO of Pink Legal, Manasi Chaudhari about the portal, why did she come up with something like this and the importance of educating the girls about their legal rights. Here’s what she said:
NDTV: How did you think of something like this, which is the need of the hour?
Manasi Chaudhari: Pink legal is currently the only platform in India that helps provide legal information to girls and women. As a law student, I realised that in India there are many laws and rights which are actually in favour of women. But the problem is that most women don’t know about these laws as they are very complicated and difficult to understand. I also realised that there is no source which is actually reliable and comprehensive where women can actually understand their rights from. This is how the idea of pink legal was born. Pink legal started as a law awareness website, but today it also provides women access to legal services by connecting them to lawyers across India and also by answering their legal queries.
NDTV: What are some of the important laws that every woman should know?
Manasi Chaudhari: There are three important laws, which every woman or girl should know. No.1 is the domestic violence act, which is one of the most common problems faced by women in India. Domestic violence act protects you from four types of violence – physical, emotional, financial and sexual and it protects you against any family member, it could be your own or matrimonial family members as long as you are sharing a house with them.
Second important law which all women should know of is the sexual harassment. Basically, sexual harassment is of three types – not just physical but also verbal, which is through spoken words and non-verbal which is through gestures or body language. Most women are not aware that even non-physical violence also forms a sexual harassment and is punishable.
Number three is the sexual harassment law at workplace because we have all seen through “Me Too” movement that it is quite a commonly occurring phenomena in our country.
And the PoSH act – which is the Prevention of Sexual Harassment at workplace act and is a very strong law in favour of women. It protects them against all sexual harassment in the workplace.
NDTV: What are some of the examples or cases you have seen that highlights the things women are looking out for in terms of help?
Manasi Chaudhari: Surprisingly or not so surprisingly, the maximum number of queries we receive at Pink Legal is the domestic violence – either from their own family members or the husband’s family members. About 90 per cent of women who reach out to us at Pink Legal face domestic violence and the remaining has something to do with their marriage or divorce or custody of children. And for girl children, we have noticed that being forced into marriage is very common. A lot of girls reach out to us to know about their rights when their parents force them into some marriage.
NDTV: How important it is to educate girls about their rights from an early age?
Manasi Chaudhari: I think it is extremely important to educate girls about their rights. Right from childhood, if it can be included in the part of the curriculum, it will be an ideal situation because awareness and education is the first step towards empowerment. If girls know about their rights from childhood and know that they have rights against sexual harassment, rights against domestic violence and other commonly occurring problems, they will know that they don’t have to suffer in silence and they have legal remedies that can help them take action.
NDTV: COVID-19 has really disturbed the lifestyle across, what all changes did you see at Pink Legal in terms of women reaching out for help?
Manasi Chaudhari: During COVID-19, we have again seen an increase in domestic violence cases. Child marriages have also gone up. The number of girls reaching out to us with their parents forcing them to marriage have also increased.
NDTV: India proposes to raise the marriage age for girls to 21. What implications this change brings in?
Manasi Chaudhari: This is a good move, as the marriageable age of boys is also 21, so this brings an equality in age for all genders. Secondly, by making it 21, we are giving girl children additional three years to be able to settle in life, receive education, maybe get a job, instead of forcing them into a marriage at the age of 18. The only flip side that comes out of this is that we can have more under the radar kind of marriages which can be conducted illegally.
NDTV: Incase the girl really needs help but they cannot get out of the house, how can they reach out to Pink Legal?
Manasi Chaudhari: So, all the information at Pink Legal is available at the click of the button, so anybody with the access to internet can consume it. Anybody with phones can send in their legal query to our website or if they want to connect with the lawyer or counsellor, they can access these services for free. Thirdly, if they want to take an action and file the case they can connect with us, we will match their requirement with the lawyers we have in our network. So, everything is available to them at the click of the button at their fingertips.
About National Girl Child Day
Every year, January 24 in India is marked as National Girl Child Day. The day is an initiative of the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) and is being celebrated since 2008, with an objective of highlighting the inequalities faced by girls and to promote awareness about the rights of a girl child and the importance of their education, health, and nutrition.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.