Eve teasing comaplaint
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This article is written by Shivani Verma, a student of Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi. In this article, she has discussed various important legal aspects of eve-teasing.

Eve-teasing meaning

If in a public place, displeasing or adverse remarks are passed to a woman, then it will amount to eve-teasing. A public place can be any place which includes street, market, malls, public transportation etc. Indian law does not provide the meaning of eve-teasing. “Eve” in the term eve-teasing represents that the woman herself tempt the male for disgraceful comments and behaviour towards her. The term contains some demerits because it is blaming the victim for her own sufferings. It shows that the cause of eve-teasing is a woman herself. 

Sexual assault or sexual harassment of women either verbally or by making any type of vulgar gestures is defined as “eve-teasing”. If eve-teasing is also considered as harassment of a woman. It includes vulgar gestures, sexual remarks, winking, whistling, staring, touching inappropriately, groping etc. In South Asia, eve-teasing is considered as a common euphemism for sexual harassment of women by men in various public places.

In Vishakha vs. State of Rajasthan[1], the Supreme Court provides us with the guidelines on the acts that will amount to sexual harassment. These acts include:

  1. Either directly or indirectly, if there is unwelcome sexually determined behaviour,
  2. If there is any type of physical contact or advances,
  3. If any demand or request for sexual favours is made,
  4. It includes sexually coloured remarks,
  5. Any other type of physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct which is of sexual nature will amount to sexual harassment.

Eve-teasing meaning in Hindi

In Hindi eve-teasing is known as “chheda-khaanee” or “छेड़खानी

Section 294 IPC

The dignity of women is being taken care of by various laws that are stated in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 [IPC]. The acts or behaviour that causes hurt to the dignity of women is dealt with a few sections of IPC. Section 294 and Section 509 of IPC are two sections related to this.

If obscene acts are committed in public or obscene words are spoken in public then Section 294 makes the punishment for such acts mandatory. Section 294 states that if anyone does any obscene acts in a public place or sing, recite or utters any obscene song, ballad, words in a public place or even a place that is close to a public place and such an act causes annoyance to others then it will amount to an offence under Section 294.

The person will be punished with imprisonment up to 3 months or fine or both. This section is not gender-specific so, male or female can be a victim or the offender. The penalty will depend upon the severity of the offence.

Section 509 IPC

A person who expresses words, gestures, acts with an intention to hurt the modesty of the women then such person will be penalized under Section 509 of IPC. This section is also referred to as eve-teasing section. After reading this section one can easily interpret that by introducing this provision the legislature intended that any sort of aggression into a woman’s modesty either by word, deed or act will not be tolerated.

This section states that a person who has an intention to insult the modesty of woman either by uttering any word, making any sound, gesture, or exhibits any object with an aim that such gesture or words are heard by the woman or it intrudes upon her privacy then he will be punished with an imprisonment up to year or fine. The penalty will depend upon the severity of the offence.

The offence under this section is cognizable and bailable in nature. This section can be tried by any magistrate and it should be kept in mind that this section will be applicable if there is an intention on the part of the offender to insult or hurt the modesty of a woman. 

Eve-teasing History

In the 1970’s, the problem of eve-teasing received public and media attention. In modern times, more and more women have become independent they often go to places of work, colleges etc which means that they are no longer accompanied by males which were considered as a norm in the traditional society. 

The problem of eve-teasing grew at an alarming rate. The need was felt by the Indian government to take remedial measures which include both judicial as well as law enforcement methods in order to curb this practice. Various efforts were made in order to sensitize the police regarding this problem. 

The police then started to round up the eve teasers, the woman police cops dressed in normal clothes were deployed, this particular step proved to be effective. In other states, several other measures were also taken by the police in this regard. The police set up dedicated women’s helplines in various cities, special police cells and various police stations were staffed with women.

Due to changing public opinion against this practice, a lot of women came forward to report about this issue in this period. But in some cases, these incidents became more grievous. There was a rise in the number of cases related to acid throwing because of which states like Tamil Nadu declared it a non-bailable offence. The number of women’s organisation increased at an alarming rate. Reports related to bride burning increased during this period. To change the lenient attitude of people towards offence related to women many laws were implemented such as The Delhi Prohibition of Eve-teasing Bill, 1984.

A case was reported in 1998 were a female student Sarika Shah died, this resulted in the implementation of some tough laws to counter this issue. A female student of Maharaja Sayajirao University assaulted four men after the men made some lewd comments about a girl who was staying in SD hotel.

Due to fear of reprisals and exposure to public shame many cases are unreported. In 2008, a 19-year old youth was caught making lewd comments to passing females, then the Delhi Court ordered the youth to distribute 500 handbills outside schools and colleges detailing the consequences of indecent conduct.

Depiction in popular culture

Depiction in films or Indian shows where a boy flirts with a girl in the beginning accompanied by song, dance and at the end the girl surrenders herself to the boy, it often instigate young men to follow it as an example. Even the term roadside Romeo was also used in the film Roadside Romeo (2007).

It is also depicted in popular culture that if a girl is in problem and is teased by boys then the hero comes and fight with them to save the girl.

Legal redress

Earlier, victims used to seek recourse by Section 294 of the Indian Penal Code 1860 which states that a man will be held guilty if he makes a girl or a woman target of obscene gestures, remarks etc. Law does not provide us with the definition of eve-teasing. A fine of Rs. 2000 and imprisonment of 2 years will be imposed if a man shows any pornographic or obscene pictures, books or papers to a woman or a girl under Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and in case if this offence is repeated then the offender will be held liable for imprisonment up to 5 years and a fine of Rs. 5000.

If a person passes any negative comments or shows obscene gestures to a girl or a woman which intrudes on her privacy will be held liable for imprisonment up to 1 year and a fine or both. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 brought changes to the Indian Penal Code, 1860 by making sexual harassment an expressed offence under Section 354A. Under this section, the offender will be punishable with imprisonment of 3 years and fine or both. 

New offences like disrobing a woman without her consent, stalking or any other type of sexual offence by a person are introduced by this Act. This Act made acid attack a specific offence which is punishable with imprisonment not less than 10 years and the imprisonment can extend to life imprisonment and with fine.

No. 9 eve-teasing (New Legislation) 1988 was proposed by the National Commission for Women (NCW). The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 was passed by the Indian Parliament that provides for the protection of female workers in the workplace. On 9 December 2013, this act came into force.

Public response

In 2002, after the rise of eve-teasing cases Nirbahaya Karnataka which is also known as Fearless Karnataka which is a type of coalition between many individuals and groups which includes Alternative Law Forum, Blank Noise, Maraa, Samvada and Vimochana organised various public awareness campaigns which include the projects like Take Back the Night etc. The Black Noise project was started in 2003. In 2008, a programme to fight eve-teasing was hosted.

In order to prepare the city for the Commonwealth Games that was to be held in 2010, the Department of Women and Child Development introduced a steering committee. In Mumbai, trains were introduced with a compartment known as ‘Ladies Special’ in which women can travel without fear of sexual harassment. Metros have also introduced ladies coach.

Eve-teasing faced a lot of criticism from the media and social media websites like facebook.

Whether eve-teasing a Civil wrong or Criminal wrong 

Eve-teasing is considered as a civil wrong because the offender not only causes injury to the plaintiff mentally but also physically. There is an encroachment of women’s right to privacy and her dignity. There are certain provisions in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 which defines and describes eve-teasing. 

Section 294 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 states that if anyone does any obscene acts in a public place or sing, recite or utters any obscene song, ballad, words in a public place or even a place that is close to a public place and such an act causes annoyance to others then it will amount to an offence under Section 294.

Section 354 states that if force is used to outrage the modesty of a woman then the offender will be punished under this section provided that there must be an intention on his part to outrage her modesty.

Section 509 of IPC states that a person who has an intention to insult the modesty of woman either utters any word, make any sound, gesture, or exhibits any object with an aim that such gesture or words are heard by the woman or it intrudes upon her privacy then he will be punished with an imprisonment up to year or fine.

Eve-teasing is basically an attitude or a mindset which is depicted by a particular set of behaviour. In the case of Deputy Inspector General of Police and Anr. vs. S. Samuthiram[2], the Apex Court states that eve-teasing is conduct that attracts penal action, but this is only seen in one state which is the state of Tamil Nadu. In 1998, a woman died due to eve-teasing which led the government to bring an ordinance which is known as the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of eve-teasing Ordinance, 1998

This ordinance was later known as the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of eve-teasing Ordinance, 1998 (Eve-Teasing Act). The government holds the view that eve-teasing is an evil that needs to be eliminated from the society so for this State Government of Tamil Nadu provides with the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of eve-teasing Act, 1998(TN Act No. of 1998). This act provides with the definition of eve-teasing. 

According to this Act, eve-teasing means that a person whose conduct is a shame, intimidation, fear or embarrassment to a woman which also includes any type of nuisance, assault or force used against the women then this will be known as eve-teasing. The scope of eve-teasing was broadened by including in it places like an educational institution, temple, place of worship, bus stop, road, railway etc. Eve-teasing would be considered as a crime if it happens at one of these mentioned places.

Eve-teasing- Violation of Right to Privacy

The act of eve-teasing is considered constitutionally immoral because it violates a person’s right to privacy by interfering into his/her personal life. It is also a violation of the Fundamental Right to Life that is provided to us by Article 21 of the Indian Constitution because it not only affects the dignity of a woman but it also affects her self respect.

Types of eve-teasing

Before 2013, the scope of the law on sexual harassment was narrow. Earlier, it includes Section 294, Section 354 and Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. But after passing of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 it also includes in it Disrobing (Section 354-B), Voyeurism (Section 354-C) and Stalking  (Section 354-D).

Types of Eve-teasing

Sections 

Details 

Punishment 

Offence 

Obscene acts and songs

Section 294

If any person annoys the other by doing any obscene act or by singing, reciting or uttering any obscene song, or by words then he will be liable under this section.

Maximum 3 months or fine or both.

Bailable offence.

Outraging the modesty of a woman

Section 354

If any person assaults or uses criminal force against a woman and he does this intentionally in order to outrage the modesty of a woman.

Minimum 1 year but can extend up to 5 years and fine.

Non-bailable offence.

Insulting the modesty of a woman 

Section 509

If any person utters any word or makes any sound, gesture or exhibits any object with an intention that such words or objects shall be seen by a woman or intrudes on her privacy.

Maximum 3 years and fine.

Bailable offence.  

Sexual harassment 

Section 354-A

If any person shows pornography to a woman against her will, make sexually coloured remarks, demand or request for sexual favours etc then he committed the offence of sexual harassment.

Maximum 3 years or fine or both and in case of sexually coloured remarks than punishment is 1 year of imprisonment or fine or both.

Bailable offence

Disrobing 

Section 354-B

If any person uses a criminal force against a woman with an intention either to disrobe her, compel her to be naked then he will be liable under this section.

Minimum 3 years but can extend to 7 years and fine.

Non-bailable offence

Voyeurism 

Section 354-C

If any person spy on another person who is engaged in either intimate behaviours or acts of undressing, sexual activity, or any acts that are considered private in nature then he will be held liable under this act.

Minimum 1 year but can extend to 3 years and fine.

[Subsequent conviction- a minimum of 3 years but can extend to 7 years and fine].

Bailable offence

[subsequent offence- Non-Bailable]

Stalking 

Section 354-D

If a man follows or contacts a woman despite several indications of disinterest by her then he committed an offence under this section. It can be both physically and electronically.

Maximum 3 years and fine.

[subsequent offence- non-bailable].

Bailable offence

[subsequent offence- Non-Bailable]

Causes of eve-teasing

The main causes of eve-teasing are:

  1. In recent times it is often seen that there has been degradation of social, cultural and moral values.
  2. There is a lack of positive attitudes towards women in society.
  3. People often consider women as commodities.
  4. There has been widespread pornography.
  5. Due to the free and uncontrolled telecast of satellite TV channels people are often influenced by films, shows, etc.
  6. Due to unawareness of the parents regarding their children.
  7. Eve-teasing is also an increasing problem in society because there has been a lack of proper education and gender discrimination in society.
  8. Due to less separate laws regarding eve-teasing.
  9. Unawareness of people regarding eve-teasing laws.

Eve-teasing complaint

The victim/complainant should immediately go to the following places and file an FIR:

  1. Nearest police station, or
  2. Nearest women’s police station, or
  3. Public grievance cell at the Commissioner of Police’s office.

The victim should note that the FIR would be recorded in a register and she should take the registration number or receipt for the same. If the victim is a woman then she can also ask the police to come to her home and make further inquiries regarding the incident. It is always advisable to consult a lawyer before registering the FIR.

The victim can call on 100 (Police control room) or 1091 (Women helpline number) at the time of the incident.

How to stop eve-teasing

eve-teasing can be stopped if people are educated about the laws as well as punishments related to it because the offender must know the consequences of his act. A person should carry safety equipment with him/her that can help to combat the problem there and then. 

Technology can be helpful in this case, the person can set SOS numbers of the close ones on his/her phone. If a person is self-reliant and can defend himself/herself then the cases of eve-teasing can be reduced. Laws should be made more strict and hard punishments should be imposed so that a person should not think of committing such types of offences.

Eve-teasing complaint letter

A letter can be written to the police superintendent against eve-teasing in the town.

Sample Complaint Letter:

To, 

Superintendent of Police

New Delhi-110052

 

Sub: Complaint letter against eve-teasing in the town

 

Respected Sir,

 

I am Shivani Verma from Ashok Vihar area. Recently, there have been a lot of incidents of eve-teasing in our area by local men. Those men usually use vulgar words against the women or pass indecent comments. Women feel insecure in our area. Yesterday, this happened with my neighbour who was coming back from her college. Please think about this because this problem is increasing at an alarming rate.

So, here I am requesting you to allocate more police force in this area and take strict action against this issue.

 

Yours Sincerely,

Shivani Verma.

Eve-teasing complaint letter can be written to an editor of a newspaper. Following is the sample for complaint letter:

E-17

Ashok Vihar,

Phase- IV

Delhi-110052

 

The Editor,

The Times of India

J.P. Road

Delhi

 

5 July 2019

 

Sub: Problem of eve-teasing is increasing at an alarming rate in our city.

 

Sir,

I am writing this letter to express my deep concern regarding the problem of eve-teasing in our city. While commuting school girls and college going girls feel very insecure. Rowdy boys often pass indecent comments due to which girls have to feel embarrassed.

The problem of eve-teasing is not only restricted to some places but this problem is everywhere on roads, on buses, trains, auto-rickshaws etc. After the implementation of so many laws still, girls are not safe in our city. There should be frequent patrolling by the police in the public areas.

An active role should be played by society in order to curb the evil of eve-teasing. If any eve teaser tries to tease a girl then people should immediately come forward and help her. With the help of people, this problem can be solved easily and efficiently. I hereby request the concerned authority to look into this matter and do the needful. 

 

Thanking You.

Yours truly,

Shivani Verma.

Eve-teasing case

In the case of State of Kerala vs. Hamsa[3], the accused was winking his eyes at a woman and it was noticed by other people present there. This act by insulted her modesty. The court held that even if those gestures were not noticed by other people except the woman, those acts would also amount to insult to her modesty as she had no intention to reciprocate these actions. The accused had committed an offence under this section. The accused was also held liable under section 354 IPC as he caught holding the arms of the woman which was an obvious act of assault to outrage her modesty.

In the case of Rupan Deol Bajaj vs. KPS Gill[4], the Supreme Court held that to ascertain that whether the modesty of a woman was outraged or not will depend solely upon the action of the offender. This is the ultimate test to establish an offence under this act. The action should be capable of shocking the sense of decency of a woman. Keeping this view in mind the act of Mr Gill by slapping Mrs Bajaj on her posterior amounted to outrage her modesty because this act was not only abused to the normal sense of feminine decency but also an insult to the dignity of a woman.

In Santha vs. State of Kerala[5], the court held that if a man exposes his private organs to a woman in an indecent way, use obscene words with an intention that the words should be heard by the woman or tries to show her his obscene drawings then he will be held liable under this section.

In Tarak Das Gupta vs. State[6], the accused posted a letter to an English nurse with whom he was not acquainted. The letter contained indecent overtures. The court held that the accused intended to insult the modesty of the nurse and is liable under this section.

Eve-teasing punishment

Punishment for all kinds of offences under eve-teasing are:

  1. Obscene acts and songs– Maximum 3 months or fine or both
  2. Outraging the modesty of a woman– Minimum 1 year but can extend up to 5 years and fine
  3. Insulting the modesty of a woman–  Maximum 3 years and fine
  4. Sexual harassment– Maximum 3 years or fine or both and in case of sexually coloured remarks than punishment is 1 year of imprisonment or fine or both.
  5. Disrobing– Minimum 3 years but can extend to 7 years and fine
  6. Voyeurism– Minimum 1 year but can extend to 3 years and fine.[Subsequent conviction- A minimum of 3 years but can extend to 7 years and fine].
  7. Stalking– Maximum 3 years and fine [subsequent offence- non-bailable]

Eve-teasing statistics

National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) provides us with crime statistics for 2016. In 2015, a total of crime against women recorded were 3,29,000 and in 2016 it increased to 3,38,000.

Conclusion

Eve-teasing is a problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. eve-teasing should be treated as an independent crime. Better enforcement mechanism and stricter laws are needed against eve-teasing. Law-makers should make a law addressing this issue because it can help in lowering the number of cases of eve-teasing. Police should pay more attention towards this crime and should focus on the issue as soon as the complaint is lodged. eve-teasing might sound less harmful crime but it can turn into a grievous one if not stopped at an early stage.

References 

  1. Vishakha vs. State of Rajasthan, AIR 1997 SC 3011
  2. Deputy Inspector General of Police and Anr. vs. S. Samuthiram, CIVIL APPEAL NO. 8513 OF 2012
  3. State of Kerala vs. Hamsa, 1988 9 Crimes 161
  4. Rupan Deol Bajaj vs. KPS Gill, AIR 1996 SC 309
  5. Santha vs. State of Kerala, (2006) 1 KLT 249
  6. Tarak Das Gupta vs. State, (1925) 28 Bom LR 99 

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