National Commission for Women

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The National Commission for Women (NCW) is a statutory body for women established in January 1992 by Government of India under the provisions of the Indian Constitution,[1] as defined in the 1990 National Commission for Women Act.[2] The first head of the commission was Ms. Jayanti Patnaik. The present head of the Commission is Mrs. Mamta Sharma, former MLA of Bundi district, Rajasthan.


The objective of the NCW is to represent the rights of women in India and to provide a voice for their issues and concerns. The subjects of their campaigns have included dowry, politics, religion, equal representation for women in jobs, and the exploitation of women for labour. They have also discussed police abuses against women.[3]

The commission regularly publishes a monthly newsletter, Rashtra Mahila in both Hindi and English.[4]


In December 2006 and January 2007, the NCW found itself at the center of a minor controversy over its insistence that the law not be changed to make adulterous wives equally prosecutable by their husbands.

But the grounds on which Ms. Vyas resists the logic of making this a criminal offence — particularly for women, as often recommended — are not as encouraging. She is averse to holding the adulterous woman equally culpable as the adulterous man because women, she believes, are never offenders. They are always the victims.[5]

The NCW has demanded that women should not be punished for adultery, as a woman is "the victim and not an offender" in such cases. They have also advocated the amendment of Section 198 of CrPC to allow women to file complaints against unfaithful husbands and prosecute them for their promiscuous behaviours. This was in response to loopholes in the Indian Penal code that allowed men to file adultery charges against other men who have engaged in illicit relations but does not allow women a to file charges against their husbands.[6]

The Commission has also worked to guarantee women security in unconventional relationships.[5]

Mangalore pub attack controversy[edit]

The NCW came under sharp criticism for their response to the attack by forty male members of the Hindu right-wing Sri Ram Sena on eight women in a bar in Mangalore in late January 2009. Video from the attack shows the women were punched, pulled by their hair, and thrown out of the pub.[7][8]

NCW member Smt Nirmala Venkatesh was sent to assess the situation, and said in an interview that the pub did not have adequate security and that the women should have protected themselves. Venkatesh said, "If the girls feel they were not doing anything wrong why are they afraid to come forward and give a statement?"[9] On 6 February, the NCW said they decided not to accept Venkatesh's report but would not be sending a new team to Mangalore. On 27 February, The Prime Minister’s Office approved the removal of Nirmala Venkatesh on disciplinary grounds.[10]

Guwahati molestation controversy[edit]

The NCW came under fire again after the molestation of a 17-year-old girl by a gang of men outside a pub in Guwahati on July 9, 2012. NCW member Alka Lamba was accused of leaking the name of the minor victim to the media, and was subsequently removed from the fact-finding committee, though she remains a member of the commission.[11] The following week, NCW chairperson Mamta Sharma made comments suggesting that women "be careful how you dress", which invited criticism that she was guilty of victim blaming. The controversy led activists to call for a restructuring of the commission.[12][13]

Former Chairpersons [14][edit]

SL No Name From To
1. Ms. Jayanti Patnaik 03.02.1992 30.01.1995
2. Dr. V. Mohini Giri 21.07.1995 20.07.1998
3. Ms. Vibha Parthasarathi 18.01.1999 17.01.2002
4. Dr. Poornima Advani 25.01.2002 24.01.2005
5. Dr. Girija Vyas[15] 16.02.2005 09.04.2008
6. Dr. Girija Vyas 15.02.2008 08.04.2011
7. Ms. Mamta Sharma[16] 02.08.2011 till date

See also[edit]


External links[edit]