The legal and psychological study of Eve teasing in India

Author:- Anu Priya

Introduction-

Walking alone in the moonlight, sitting peacefully in solidarity is something impossible to ask for. A Bitter truth, this is the case in India where women are forced to take shelter of male dominance. Where they face numerous types of exploitation and harassment. Sexual harassment is in its perennial. Sexual abuse and heinous crimes by known and unknown persons are ravaging the lives of zillions of women. Eve teasing is nothing but a form of harassment in public places. NCR New Delhi Report (2003) reported 40% of women are affected by eve teasing[1]. The lopsided parentage degrades the reverence of women. In addition to it, orthodox culture and Indian cinema also reinforce stereotype domination. National crime record 2002 reported only 5% of the offender are punished when they involve in sexual harassment of women[2].

The scenario is even worse when we acknowledge that women police constable is also the victim of this ruthless conduct[3]. Eve-teasing is a euphemistic expression for south Asia, especially in India.[4] In the psychological aspect, it is the results of sexual desires and attraction. But who gave them the right to torture innocent girl for their pleasure, the society itself is liable to give the tag of something heroic. It is shameful to tell men are also subject to eve-teasing which mentally affects them and in its gravest form, they commit suicide. The worst affected and teased are eunuchs and there is no law for their safeguard[5].

The National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) in its annual publication reported the no. of crime registered against women in the year 2015 at the national level was 1,30,195[6]. Eve-teasing is connected with power and feeling that women are inferior and powerless. This initial tease if ignored further develop into silent consent of suppression and gradually become violent. The very famous known protest made by Manish Mishra, nephew of former Prime Minister of India Attal Bihari Vajpayee, who was thrown out of running train by some drunkards while protesting against eve-teasing. This shows how harmful it may result in, this fear of inviting greater injury to others from the protest. Some or other way this might result in community clashes and invitation of other offences[7].

Women prefer to ignore in fear of its consequence which might result in violence or something heinous. This eve-teasing is a non-compoundable and cognizable offence. The term eve-teasing is not recognized in IPC but its provisions regarding prohibition are covered under IPC. The eve-teasing covers a broader aspect of harassment in public places. It gradually became a great threat to women safety and the prevailing attitudes about gender role. Indian women defied by society in the name of chaste and modest wife recognized as Indian goddess Mata Sita and an ideal daughter, sister, daughter-in-law, mother etc.[8]

These presumptions lead women to suffer prohibitions and restrictions in their growth and development. The World Health Organisation is in the view that the strict patriarchal norms give preference to family honour in compromise over the well-being of a girl are a community-level risk factor for sexual violence[9]. It is evidenced by daily media report that eve-teasing leads to suicide, inter-family violence, early or forced marriage, pre-empt or repair the threat to a girl’s reputation, increased dowry prices, and even honour killings[10].

Eve-teasing and characteristic

It is a form of sexual harassment of women in public places which include catcalling, lewd or obscene remarks, inappropriate sexual remarks including rubbing, touching, fondling, stalking, voyeurism etc.,[11] This conduct humiliates and affects the girl or the women physically, psychologically and socially as well. There is a very thin line to covert eve-teasing into severe offence. It starts with eve-teasing and results in assault, rape and doesn’t spare till murder. The Delhi rape case, December 2012 acquaints us with how heinous and horrifying it may result.

Characteristic

  1. Eve-teasing is a very broad term that also includes sexual staring, making remarks or passing comment, Indecent proposals, pulling hands, scarves and saris, Bottom pinching, touching hips and breasts of women, Stalking, Indecent exposure, winking, whistling, and deliberate pushing by a boy into another boy to “accidentally” push a girl. Email harassment, mobile phone harassment, and cyber-bullying etc[12].
  2. Eve-teasing is perpetrated by a single or group of people, known or unknown person or even within the home.
  3. It is found that the perpetrator can be of the same age group or younger or older than the victim, nearly half of the perpetrators were perceived to be older than the participant, and approximately 50% were known to the participant[13].
  4. It can happen in numerous public places depending on the mobility of the victim for example market place, temple, movie theatres, park or street, coffee shop etc.,[14]
  5. A major reason behind eve-teasing is human sexuality, sex deprivation, gender inequality, thrill or sensation seeking by individual or group of people, media influences, lack of sex education, patriarchal approach, the status of women, cultural clashes etc[15].

Why public places are unsafe for women

The rate of crime in India against women is rapidly increasing. Urbanization brought development and opportunity for women but unfortunately, the right of a woman to move freely in public spaces are limited by the threat of violence and increasing crime rate. Moving freely in the dark and dressing of their choice became criteria of their chaste. Victims are judged and blamed for their free conduct. Women are alleged of being provocative, carrying attractive attires, being social, walking alone, travelling in the dark etc. This leads women to compromise their choice and accept the societal norms for their safety. Undue influence of society restrains their choice of education, work and leisure etc.[16]

The rise of crime is transparent in the daily media report. The National crime report bureau (NCRB) reveals an increment of 7.3% crime rate against women. In a survey in it is found that 75% experienced harassment on streets and 19% at bus stops. 25% (1/4) face harassment daily, or at least once a week[17]. Where 68% ignored the sexual harassment, 40% accost the perpetrator, 8% ask by-standers, and only 9% reported it to the police[18]. It can be presumed that most cases go unreported and we don’t have any appropriate data to rely upon. But, it’s visible how unsafe and discriminatory it becomes.

Provisions in Indian Penal Code-

For the prevention of women from eve-teasing, IPC section 294, 354, 354A, 354B, 354C, 354D, 509 plays a major role.

Section 294 deals with Obscene acts and songs- With the intent of annoyance, if a person does any obscene act or verbally in any form utter any obscene words in a public place shall be punished with imprisonment of a maximum of 3months with or without fine[19].

Section 354 of IPC- Any person who uses assault or criminal force with the intent or knowledge to outrage the modesty of women shall be punished with imprisonment of a minimum of 1 year and max. of 5 years with fine[20].

Section 354-A of IPC- This section explains sexual harassment and its punishment.

Any man involved in unwelcome or explicit sexual overtures and physical contact, or demands sexual favour shall be guilty of sexual harassment and shall be punished with imprisonment for a maximum of 3years with or without a fine. Any man showing pornography against her will or making sexually coloured remarks are guilty of sexual harassment and shall be punished with imprisonment for a maximum of 1 year with or without a fine.[21]

Section 354-B of IPC- Any man who uses assault or criminal force with the intent to disrobe or compelling her to be naked shall be punished with imprisonment for a minimum of 3 years and which shall extend to 7 years including fine.

Section 354-C of IPC- It deals with Voyeurism

Any man who watches or captures images or disseminates such images of women engaging in a private act which include an act which expected to provide privacy shall be punished with imprisonment for a minimum of 1year and shall extend to 3years including a fine, where the subsequent action shall be punished with a minimum of 3years and shall extend to 7 years including a fine.

This section further provides that, where the victim consents to capture images but doesn’t consent to its dissemination to 3rd person shall also behold guilt and punished under this provision.

Section 354-D of IPC- This section deals with Stalking

Any man without any authority and justified reason or the consent of women or the women shows her clear indication of disinterest, follow her or contact or attempt to make contact or monitors her by internet, email, or any other form of electronic communication commits the offence of stalking and shall be punished with imprisonment for a maximum of 3years including fine and on subsequent offence shall be punished with imprisonment which shall extend to 5 years including a fine.

Section 509- any person with the intent to insult the modesty of a woman utters any word or make a gesture or exhibits any object or intrudes upon the privacy of women shall be punished with imprisonment for a maximum of 24 hours which may extend to 3 years including a fine.

Flaws of IPC –

  1. When we go through the section of 354 A, B, C, D it only safeguards women against man. There is no law to safeguard men or eunuchs from eve-teasing[22].
  2. There is no provision for women to safeguard them from the act of any other women.
  3. These provisions presume the only man in the place of accuse.

Protection of children from sexual assault-

The POCSO Act safeguard minor chid both girl and boy from any form of sexual abuse and assault where sec 7,9,11 mainly deals with the punishment of sexual assault regarding children. Where sec 7 deals with sexual assault i.e., sexual contact without penetration and sec8 state its punishment. Whoever does such act shall be punished with a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of five years, and a fine[23].

Sec 9 states the Aggravated Sexual Assault by a person in authority and sec 10 compile its punishment that shall be a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 7 years, including a fine[24].

Sec 11 deals with Sexual Harassment of the Child and sec 12 states its punishment i.e., 3 years including a fine[25].

Conclusion

The bench of justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra[26] gave certain direction to curb eve-teasing but still, they’re not in the complete implementation of the guideline by states as they are taking it as a formality. It’s good to note people are now being aware of this offence and taking a step forward. Courts also on their part recognizing it[27]. The bench recommendation was suitable to encounter this offence.

  1. The apex court guided the state and UT to install CCTV camera in public places.
  2. The in-charge of educational institution, temple, bus etc., are instructed to take action within their precincts to avoid eve-teasing and if reported they instantly pass the report to the nearest police station or women help centre[28].
  3. Where passengers or in charge of the public vehicle itself indulge in eve-teasing, on the complaint of aggrieved the crew should take the transport to the nearest police station and give information to the police, in case of its violation their permit will be cancelled[29].
  4. The state government and UT are guided to establish a woman helpline in various areas to curb eve-teasing within 3month of the judgement passed.
  5. Boards contain cautioning against eve-teasing should be exhibited in the precincts of different public places.
  6. The passer-by is also liable to report such incident to the nearest police station or the women helpline.
  7. The State government or UT should take all the effective measure to curb this offence.

List of women helpline no. of different states- https://www.indianhelpline.com/WOMEN-HELPLINE/

 Emergency women helpline – 1091

The faster and efficiently it implements the better it will be.


Anu Priya is studying Law at Kalinga University, Raipur


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[19] Subs. By IPC (Amendment) Act, 1969 (36 of 1969), S.2

[20] Subs. By IPC Act, 13 of 2013, S.6 (w.r.e.f. 3-2-2013)

[21] Ins. By Act 13 of 2013, S.7 (w.r.e.f.3-2-2013)

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