For a woman (sometimes even men) living in India, harassment while walking on the street, or molestation at a crowded public place, is very common. However, most of the women are not aware about the following provisions under Indian penal code (IPC) and other laws, which offer protection against sexual crimes. They are as follows:
1- IPC Section 294, Singing lewd songs before women at public places. Punishment is 3 Months in Jail, Fine or Both.
2-IPC Section 354 (A), Demanding sexual favours despite indication of disinterest. Punishment is 1-3 Years Jail, Fine or Both.
3- IPC Section 354 (D), Following someone without their knowledge or Stalking. Punishment is 3-5 Years Jail and Fine.
4- IPC Section 503, Threatening to harm women physically, harm their reputation or property, on their refusal of sexual advances. Punishment is 2 Years Jail, Fine or Both.
5- IPC Section 354 (C), Capturing, watching or sharing images of women in her private act, without her consent or Voyeurism. Punishment is 1-3 Years Jail and Fine for first time offenders, 3-7 Years Jail and Fine if repeated.
6- Your nearest police station is obligated to register an FIR, and you have the right to register one, if you have been sexually harassed.
7- Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (SHWW) Act 2013 makes it a sexual crime for your superior or boss, to demand sexual favours in lieu of work benefits, promotion or salary.
8- IPC Section 499, Editing pictures and sharing them to harass and defame. Punishment is 2 Years Jail, Fine or Both.
9- It is compulsory for a company with more than 10 employees, to have an Internal Complaints Committee under SHWW Act 2013.
10- Posting obscene or defamatory content online to harass, is crime under Section 67 of Information Technology (IT) Act 2000. Punishment is 2 Years Jail and Fine.
11- On a woman’s complaint of sexual harassment at workplace, the investigation by Internal Complaints Committee has to be finished within 90 days under SHWW Act 2013.
12- Registration of FIR is the first and mandatory step, for the criminal investigation process to begin.
13- IPC Section 509, Making sexually colored remarks. Punishment is 3 Years Jail and Fine.
14- IPC Section 354 (A), Unwanted physical contact. Punishment is 3 Years Jail.
15- Maid or domestic helps are covered under SHWW Act 2013, as our homes are a workplace in their case.
16- It is a right to ask for an FIR to be registered in a language, which you understand. If not possible, then you can ask for translation and explaination by the officer who’s registering it.
17- SHWW Act 2013 considers cabs provided by your office, as a part of your workplace.
18- IPC Section 509, Making derogatory and sexually colored comments on social media. Punishment is 3 Years Jail and Fine.
19- Under SHWW Act 2013, the Internal Complaints Committee can act against complainant if the complaint or evidence is fake. However, Lack of ability to give an evidence, will not come under fake complaint.
20- In case of sexual harassment, it is always recommended that the FIR must be filed as soon as possible, due to the simple reason that one remembers the details of an incident, when it has occurred recently. We at The Youth will recommend that you share this article with your friends and colleagues, to make them more sensitive towards gender equality, and to make them aware of their rights as a citizen of this country. Knowing these laws can help women, as well as those who want to offer help in such cases, but don’t know how to act or proceed.