In this Long article titled “Crime Against Women” a brief introduction regarding the topic has been provided and after that in the main context topic has been discussed how dignity of women is affected from sexual harassment after that detail description of sexual harassment has been provided after that laws under which case for sexual harassment can be filed then the concept of sexual harassment at workplace has been discussed in detail. In the end detailed list of crimes against women enlisted in Indian Penal Code, 1860 has been provided followed by a Conclusion along with opinion. And in the last reference list of sources referred has been provided.
Women comprises of half of world’s population. Do women have right to live a dignified and secured life? Women are strong enough but when their self-esteem is hurt, they get shattered. The dignity for women is much precious than life and this is universal phenomenon. Right to human dignity is included in Right to Life. In the present era, increasing crimes and violence against women is witnessed by everyone across the world in some or the other manner. It indicates the atrociousness and reflectiveness of the monstrosity perpetrated against women in recent years. The global movement for the destruction of violence against women is a proof to this fact.
Women her dignity and Sexual Harassment
Globally the sexual purity of the women is attached with the honour of the family so If the women is attacked sexually the attack is on the honour of the family. In India gender-based violence is really common where there is high discrimination between Girls and Boys where girls are not given much freedom and liberty as compared to the boys of the same family. ‘Dignity’ of the women becomes fragile as women are victims of humiliation, torture and exploitation. Nearly every woman is victim of violence. There’s not even one day when there is not crime against the ladies, whether within the kind of eve-teasing or molestation or rape or immoral trafficking or harassing sexually at the work place or domestic abuse, has not taken place, thereby putting a woman’s right to measure with dignity in anger at one point of time or vice-versa. The Supreme Court is that the custodian of Fundamental rights and consequently the dignity of ladies. In the case of Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, it had been ruled that right to live with human dignity.
What amounts to Sexual Harassment?
Any unwelcome sexual conduct which makes a person uncomfortable, offended, humiliated where the reaction is reasonable in circumstances is known as sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can take in various forms such as:
- Sexist Comments or jokes
- Staring or leering
- Sexually explicit pictures, posters or screensavers
- Insults or taunts which are sexual in nature
- Sexually explicit emails or messages
- Unnecessary familiarity or being deliberately brushing up against someone
- Such behaviours which would be an offense under criminal law such as sexual assault, physical assault, stalking, indecent exposure or obscene communication.
Sexual harassment is not sexual attraction, interaction, flirtation or friendship which is consensual. We can say that sexual; harassment is legally recognised form of sex discrimination in the society. Both Sexual Harassment and Sex Discrimination are unlawful under the laws.
Laws under which cases can be filed
Section 294 IPC states that Obscene acts and songs—
Whoever, to the annoyance of others—
(a) does any obscene act in any public place, or
(b) sings, recites or utters any obscene song, ballad or words, in or near any public place, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both.
Section 354 IPC deals with Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty—
Whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any woman, intending to outrage or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby outrage her modesty, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
Section 509 IPC deals with Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman—
Whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any word, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen, by such woman, or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.
Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act (1987)
Under the Indecent Representation of women (Prohibition) Act (1987) if an individual harasses another with books, photographs, paintings, films, pamphlets, packages, etc. containing “indecent representation of women”, they are liable for a minimum sentence of 2 years, Further section 7 (Offenses by Companies) holds companies responsible (guilty) where there has been “indecent representation of women” (such as the display of pornography) on the premises. Person guilty of offenses under this act, shall be punished with a minimum sentence of 2 years.
Sexual Harassment at Workplace
We have to first of all understand the concept of what amounts to sexual harassment at workplace after that only we will be able to get clarity regarding the whole thing like what all measures to be taken to prevent the sexual harassment at workplace and what steps should an employer take to prevent sexual harassment at workplace, what all criminal proceeding are there for this what all disciplinary measures can be taken to prevent any further harassments in near future.
So, lets begin with the first question that What amounts to sexual harassment at workplace?
When any person does an unwelcoming act of physical intimacy or makes any derogatory remark, comment which is sexual in nature or any person humiliates at workplaces such as factories, offices, construction sites, educational institutions, or any other place of work such conduct leads to sexual harassment at workplace.
Now let’s come to the second question i.e. What was the background of the concept of Sexual Harassment at workplace or how it originated?
Basically, we get the stringent legislations after the landmark case of Vishakha v. State of Rajasthan , So the question arises here what happened in this case which led to the birth of legislations for sexual harassments in India. Let us look at the brief facts of the case above mentioned.
“In the above-mentionedcase where Vishaka and other women’s groups filed Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against the state of Rajasthan and the central government of India to enforce the fundamental rights of working women under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India. The petition was filed after Bhanwari Devi, a social worker in Rajasthan was brutally gang raped for stopping a child marriage.”
The court decided that the consideration of “International Conventions and norms are significant for the purpose of interpretation of the guarantee of gender equality, right to work with human dignity in Articles 14, 15, 19(1)(g) and 21 of the Constitution and the safeguards against sexual harassment implicit therein.” The petition, resulted in what are popularly known as the Vishaka Guidelines.
Now after looking at the background of the case from which legislation regarding harassment at workplace was made now we will look into the What steps an employer take to prevent sexual harassment at workplace? and If anyone found harassing someone what all disciplinary actions should be taken against him or criminal proceedings should be initiated?
- Express prohibition of sexual harassment at the work place should be notified, published and circulated in appropriate ways.
- The Rules/Regulations of Government and Public Sector bodies relating to conduct and discipline should include rules/regulations prohibiting sexual harassment and provide for appropriate penalties in such rules against the offender.
- As regards private employers’ steps should be taken to include the aforesaid prohibitions in the standing orders under the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946.
- Appropriate work conditions should be provided in respect of work. Leisure, health and hygiene to further ensure that there is no hostile environment towards women at work places and no employee woman should have reasonable grounds to believe that she is disadvantaged in connection with her employment.
Where such conduct amounts to misconduct in employment as defined by the relevant service rules, appropriate disciplinary action should be initiated by the employer in accordance with those rules.
Where such conduct amounts to a selected offence under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 or under the other law, the employer shall initiate appropriate action in accordance with law by making a complaint with the appropriate authority. Precisely speaking, it should make sure that victims or witnesses aren’t victimized or discriminated against while dealing with complaints of molestation. The victims of molestation or sexual harassment should have the choice to seek transfer of the perpetrator or their own transfer.
Crimes against women recognized by IPC, 1860
The Indian Penal Code, 1860 has several provisions to penalise the culprits of heinous offences against the women. Such sections mentioned in IPC are as follows:
Section 312 deals with Causing miscarriage
Section 314-16 Causing miscarriage without women consent
Section 315 Act done with intent to prevent child being born alive or the cause it to die after birth shall punished for 10 yrs.
Section 372 and 373 Penalize buying and of minor girls for purposes of prostitution.
Section 361 deals with Kidnapping from lawful guardianship.
Section 366 deals with Kidnapping, abduction or inducing women to compel her to marry.
Section 366A deals with Procuration of a minor girl.
Section 366B deals with Importation of girl from foreign country
Section 326A & 326B deals with Acid Attack
Section 375, 376, 376A, 376B, 376C, 376D & 376E deals with Rape and its Punishment
Section 375, IPC defines rape. In simple terms, the offence of rape is that the ravishment of a girl, without her consent, by force, fraud or fear. In other words, it’s the penetration of any of the slightest degree of the male organ of reproduction of any woman by force against her will. It’s a horrible act of highest degree which violates the right to privacy and purity of a women. Other than being a dehumanizing and perverted act, it’s also an unlawful interference within the personal life of a lady which is an intense blow on the glory, dignity, reputation and self-esteem of a girl. This outrageous crime not only causes physical injury to the victim but also humiliates, degrades and leaves a scar on her character and dignity which is her precious jewel.
Now we will see the essential ingredients of rape as discussed in Section 375 of IPC
Actus Reus – There has to be sexual intercourse with a woman by a man as understood in the Section 375 (a) to (d).
Mens Rea – The sexual intercourse must be under any of the seven circumstances as stated under Section 375 of IPC.
Punishment for Rape (Section 376)
Section 376 provides punishment for commission of rape. This section is divided into two sub-sections.
- Section 376(1) provides a minimum sentence of seven years of imprisonment that may extend to life imprisonment and fine.
- Section 376(2) provides punishment not less than ten years of imprisonment but may extend to imprisonment for life or death or fine.
Gang Rape (Section 376D)
Section 376D deals with Punishment for Gang Rape.
Where a woman is raped by one or more persons constituting a group or acting in furtherance of a common intention, each of those persons shall be deemed to have committed the offence of rape and shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than twenty years, but which may extend to life which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life, and with fine;
Provided that such fine shall be just and reasonable to meet the medical expenses and rehabilitation of the victim;
Provided further that any fine imposed under this section shall be paid to the victim.
Landmark Case Laws for Rape
- Priya Patel v. State of Madhya Pradesh
- Tukaram v. State of Maharashtra (popularly known as Mathura Rape Case)
We cannot deny with the fact that crime against women are increasing day by day instead of decreasing with the passage of time. So, there is need of stringent legislations for the safety of women. Along with need for legislations the sick and orthodox mentality of the society need to be changed for women.
- Indian Penal Code, 1860 Bare Act
- Online Journals
- Indian Kanoon
 AIR 1997 SC 3011: 1997 (5) SCALE 453: 1997 (6) SCC 241: (1997) Supp. 3 SCR 404
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vishakha_and_others_v_State_of_Rajasthan#:~:text=Vishaka%20and%20others%20v%20State,19%20and%2021%20of%20the, Vishakha & Ors. v. S/O Rajasthan, Wikipedia, 18:34PM, November 29,2020