Outraging Modesty of Women
The law (Section 354 IPC) makes it a special crime to use force against a woman, or even threaten to use force, if the intention is to ‘outrage her modesty’. It treats it more seriously than normal and criminal force by allowing the police to make arrests for such crimes without a warrant.
The law does not explain what ‘outraging modesty’ means. Courts usually make this determination by looking at all circumstances surrounding the incident. The Supreme Court referred to ‘modesty’ as feminine decency and a virtue that women possess owing to their sex.
The punishment is jail time of between one and five years along with a fine.
Important: It is not enough that the victim’s modesty is outraged. It is an offence only when the accused intended or knew it to be likely that the acts in question would outrage the victim’s modesty.
Example: Ramesh pulls on Nina’s clothes while playing Holi and rips her T-shirt apart. It is a crime only if Ramesh intended or knew it to be likely that his acts would outrage Nina’s modesty.
According to (Section 354A IPC), Sexual harassment is the:
- Unwelcome touching or other physical contact
- Asking or demanding sex or any other sexual activity
- Making remarks which are of a sexual nature
- Showing pornographic material which may include videos, magazines, books etc.
There is a separate law on sexual harassment at workplaces – The Sexual Harassment of women at workplace (prevention, prohibition and redressal) Act and Rules 2013 . There are provisions in the main criminal law (the Indian Penal Code or IPC) which are different from the special law on sexual harassment:
- The IPC is not limited to sexual harassment at the workplace, but punishes such harassment done anywhere.
- The IPC makes it possible to file a criminal complaint if you have been sexually harassed, while the special law gives you the option of seeking civil remedies and damages, involving your office administration