Eve teasing: Judicial perspective


 

The verbal or physical abuse or harassment of women in public places such as streets, public transit, parks, and other places where people gather, as well as making lewd gestures like winking, whistling, or staring is defined as eve teasing.

 

Haryana government recently conducted a survey on eve teasing which highlights that the maximum reports related to eve teasing occurs when females return or travel to schools, college and their respective workplace. However, a different study on eve-teasing suggests that only 10% of such cases are reported in the police station. The major reason of such less reporting is that our society doesn’t pay head to such incidents and ignore the victim by saying ‘they just touched or winked at you. What’s the harm in it? They didn't commit any severe offences.’

But well they did and it’s high time that women as well as the society should be aware of the legal rights relating to eve-teasing so that innocent victims do not commit suicide or are murdered because as seen in various studies such incidents happen when harassment went unreported. 

 

WOMEN’S RIGHTS AND LIABILITIES IN REGARD TO EVE TEASING

·       The apex court of India ‘the supreme court’ when dealing with Vishakha vs state of Rajasthan provided us with guidelines relating to the act amounting to sexual harassment which includes the following:-

1. Undesired sexually determined behavior, either directly or indirectly

2. any type of bodily contact or advances

3. any demand or request for sexual favors

4. statements that are sexually oriented

5. any sexually harassing physical, verbal, or nonverbal activity, such as showing pornography or making obscene jokes.

 Anyone who is experiencing such acts or witnessing someone who is suffering the above-mentioned rules amounting to sexual harassment can submit a complaint in the court or police station. 

·       Furthermore, eve teasing also includes stalking which means An individual's repeated harassment or threatening behavior, such as following a person, showing up at their home or workplace, making harassing phone calls, leaving written messages or items, or vandalizing their property is now included in the Indian law under Section 354D of Indian penal code which provides imprisonment to the stalker up to 3 years. 

Hence, The persistent, unwelcome involvement of one person with another, for any reason, can be declared illegal and punishable if the behavior causes a person to fear violence or anguish, or disrupts their mental peace.

·       Indian penal code, 1860 provides few sections which deals with the protection of women’s dignity against the behavior that degrades women's dignity.

SECTION 294 OF IPC

Under section 294 of ipc, If someone conducts any obscene activities in a public area, or sings, recites, or utters any indecent song or lyrics in a public place, or even a spot close to a social setting which annoys the other will be punished with imprisonment upto 3 months, fine or both  under this act. This section is not gender specific so anyone might be a victim or perpetrator. 

SECTION 509 OF IPC

this section is known as eve-teasing section which states that anybody who has the intent to insult a woman's modesty by uttering any phrase, producing any sound, gesture, or displaying any object with the intent that such gesture or words are heard by the woman or intrudes upon her seclusion will  be penalised with a year in prison or a fine.

SECTION 292 OF IPC

Section 292 deals with the act of showing obscene or pornographic images, booklets to a female will be fined Rs. 2000 and sentenced to two years in prison. Furthermore, if the offender repeated this offence, he will be sentenced to up to five years in prison and a fine of Rs. 5000.

SECTION 354 OF IPC 

Under this section, If a person knowingly assaults or uses illegal force against a woman in order to offend her modesty, will be imprisoned minimum for 1 year but can extend up to 5 years and fine. The subparts of this section are as follows:-

§  SECTION 354A 

Sexual harassment is now an explicit offence under Section 354A of the Indian Penal Code, owing to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.

This act increased the imprisonment upto 3 years and fine and both of any offender who passes any derogatory remarks or makes obscene gestures towards a female thus, invading her privacy.

§  SECTION 354B

This section deals with disrobing which states that Any individual who uses unlawful force against a woman with the intent of disrobing her or forcing her to be naked is responsible under this provision. The punishment given to the offender will be minimum of 3 years but upto 7 years is acceptable. 

§  SECTION 354C

It deals with the act of voyeurism which simply means sexual fascination of watching other people participate in sexual behaviors such as undressing, sexual intercourse, or other actions that are normally considered private will be held liable minimum for 1 year but can extend to 3 years and fine. 

·       Moreover, Eve-teasing is deemed unconstitutional since it infringes on a person's right to privacy by prying into his or her private life. thus, breaching fundamental right to life provided by our indian constitution

( Article 21)  because it undermines a woman's dignity as well as her self-respect.

 

Thus, there is an urgent need to address this rapidly rising problem and it can only be done by realizing how dangerous and evil ‘eve teasing’ can be if it is not stopped at an early age and what ill effects it leaves on the person experiencing it. The society mainly females should be aware of the rights and liabilities relating to eve teasing so that they can stand up against it even if the society doesn’t support them and bring a change in this society. 

 

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