Recently I attended a workshop on sexual harassment. Dhriiti and Godrej Consumer Products Ltd. organized the workshop to aware its beautypreneur trainees of Mongolpuri area of North West Delhi, around 30 beautypreneur trainee women from nearby areas has participated in the workshop and the workshop was conducted by SafeCity, an organization working for awareness of sexual harassment and documentation of such cases.
I was privileged to attend such a workshop where meaning and different forms sexual harassment and the laws protecting women from sexual harassment and abuse were discussed. The workshop was very informative for the participants as well as for me as I was also unaware of such laws. The workshop mainly covered 3 main areas of laws relating to sexual violence, viz. IPC (Indian Penal Code), POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act), and POCSO (Prevention of Children From Sexual Offences Act). After the workshop, I got the interest to do some self-research also. I really realized that people should be aware of these laws. I tried to highlight the laws in the blog, hope this will be useful for you as well. I also request you to share these laws with your friends and family members too. Because I believe sharing right information can save many lives.
An unwelcome sexual advance or request for sexual favors or other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature which makes a person feel offended or humiliated.
Sexual harassment behaviors can be verbal as well as non-verbal. Some examples of sexually harassing behavior include: unwelcome touching, staring or leering, suggestive comments or jokes, showing sexually explicit pictures or posters, unwanted invitations to go out on dates, requests for sex, intrusive questions about a person’s private life or body, unnecessary familiarity, such as deliberately brushing up against a person, insults or taunts based on sex, sexually explicit physical contact, sexually explicit emails, SMS, notes, letter or text messages, stalking, taking pictures without permission etc.
Laws Preventing Sexual Harassment in India:
Section 294b: Obscene acts and songs directed at women in public spaces are considered sexual harass.Punishment: The person doing or the offenders could be jailed up to 3 months or fined or in some cases both.
Section 354: Assault or use of criminal force on a woman with intent to outrage her modesty. Punishment: Imprisonment not less than 5 years but may extend to 7 years and fine.
Section 354a: A man committing any of the following acts—
- physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures; or
- a demand or request for sexual favors; or
- showing pornography against the will of a woman; or
- making sexually colored remarks shall be guilty of the offense of sexual harassment.
Any man who commits the offense 1 or 2 or 3 shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 years, or with fine, or with both. Who commits the offense specified in clause 4 shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 1 year, or with fine, or with both.
Section 354b: Any man who assaults or uses criminal force to any woman or abets such act with the intention of disrobing or compelling her to be naked in any public place, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than 3 years but which may extend to 7 years, and shall also be liable to fine.
Section 354C: Any man who watches, or captures the image of a woman engaging in a private act in circumstances where she would usually have the expectation of not being observed, shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than 1 year, but which may extend to 3 years, and shall also be liable to fine, and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than 3 years, but which may extend to 7 years, and shall also be liable to fine.
Explanation 1.—”private act” includes an act of watching carried out in a place which, in the circumstances, would reasonably be expected to provide privacy and where the victim’s genitals, posterior or breasts are exposed or covered only in underwear; or the victim is using a lavatory; or the victim is doing a sexual act that is not of a kind ordinarily done in public. Explanation 2.—Where the victim consents to the capture of the images or any act, but not to their dissemination to third persons and where such image or act is disseminated, such dissemination shall be considered an offense under this section
Section 354d: Stalking: Any man who:-
Follows and contacts or even attempt to contact such women to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such women.
Monitor the use of a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication , commits the offense of stalking.
Punishment: on first conviction with imprisonment which may extend to 3 years, and shall also be liable to fine; and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment which may extend to 5 years, and shall also be liable to fine.
Section 375: The Criminal Law Amendment Act 2013 replaced the term “rape” by “sexual assault”. Punishment: Imprisonment for life or 10 years and fine.
Section 376: Sexual assault by police officer/ public servant/ member of armed force/central or state Govt. employee/ management or staff of jail or hospital/ guardian, relative or teacher, Punishment: rigorous imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not he less than 7 years, but which may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.
Section 376a: Whoever, commits an offence punishable in the course of such commission inflicts an injury which causes the death of the woman or causes the woman to be in a persistent vegetative state, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 20 years, but which may extend to imprisonment for life, which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life, or with death.
Section 376b: Whoever has sexual intercourse with his own wife, who is living separately, whether under a decree of separation or otherwise, without her consent, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than 2 years but which may extend to 7 years, and shall also be liable to fine.
Section 376c: Sexual assault by person in a position of authority or in a fiduciary relationship; or public servant; or superintendent or manager of a jail, remand home or other place of custody establishment by or under any law for the time being in force,or a women’s or children’s institution; or on the management of a hospital or being on the staff of a hospital, abuses such position or fiduciary relationship to induce or seduce any woman either in his custody or under his charge or present in the premises to have sexual intercourse with him, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offense of rape. Punishment: imprisonment which shall not be less than 5 years but which may extend to10 years and shall be liable to fine.
Section 376d (Gang rape): Where a woman is sexually assaulted by one or more persons constituting a group or acting in furtherance of a common intention, each of those persons shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 20 years, but which may extend to life which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life, and with fine.
Section 376e: Punishment for repeat offenders: Whoever has been previously convicted of an offense punishable under Section 376,367a or 367d is subsequently convicted of an offense punishable under any of the said sections shall be punished with imprisonment for life which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life, or with death.
Section 509: Uttering any word or making any gesture intended to insult the modesty of a woman. Punishment: Imprisonment for 1 year, or fine, or both.
POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Workplace): This Act provides protection against sexual harassment of women at workplace and for the prevention and redressal of complaints of sexual harassment. The Act says:
Any act or behavior of sexual harassment at workplace
1. implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in her employment, or
2. implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in her employment, or
3. implied or explicit threat about her present or future employment status, or
4. interference with her work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment for her
5. humiliating treatment likely to affect her health or safety may amount to sexual harassment.
Every employer of a workplace shall, by an order in writing, constitute a committee to be known as ‘Internal Complaints Committee’ (ICC). Every district officer shall constitute in the district concern,a committee to be known as ‘Local Complaints Committee’ (LCC) to receive complaints of sexual harassment from establishments where ICC has not been constituted due to having less than 10 worker or if the complaint is against employer.
Any aggrieved women can make a complaint in writing of sexual harassment at workplace to ICC or LCC within 3 months. ICC/LCC must complete an inquiry on the matter within 90 days and after inquiry within 10 days the report should be submitted to employer or district officer.
Points to be noted:
- Dial 1091 to report violence against women. Help from police and counselor (from NGOs) is provided to the victim of violence.
- If someone has been sexually harassed, the person can ask for the FIR statement to be recorded in a language the person understand! If for some reason that is not possible, the person can ask for a translator.
- Women can report about sexual harassment case at any police station in India.
- Women can ask for a lady police officer to listen to her problem if she is not comfortable to share with a male police officer.
- No women can be arrested before sunrise and after sunset.
Be informed, be safe!