‘Eve-teasing’ is an Indian term used for sexual harassment of women in public places, and is widely popular in Sub-continent. As women we all have suffered from this menace at some point in our life and we all know its damaging effects on our psyche.
There is judicial activism going on by many NGO’s fighting for gender equality to bring eve teasing as a separate head of liability under the Law of Torts so that punishment for this breach of women’s dignity and privacy is increased to suit the crime.
Tort is a breach of duty recognized under the Law of Torts. It includes that conduct which is not straight or lawful but is twisted, crooked, and unlawful. This branch of law consists of various Torts or wrongful acts whereby the wrong doer violates some legal rights vested in another person. The law imposes a duty to respect the legal rights vested in the members of the society and a person making a breach of that duty is said to have done the wrongful act .
Indian Penal Code however, has already guaranteed certain Rights to safeguard women against the malaise of eve-teasing. As a women I think it is important that we know our Rights if we want to fight this problem head-on.
- Under Section 292, if a man shows pornographic or obscene pictures, books or slips to a female, he will be fined a sum of Rs.2000 with two years of rigorous imprisonment, if the offence has been committed for the first time. In the event of a repeated offence, the guilty will be fined with Rs.5000 and spend five years in prison.
- Section 354 imposes a two-year imprisonment with a fine when a person is found guilty of assault or using criminal force on a woman with intent to outrage her modesty.
- Section 509 punishes the “intent to insult the modesty of any woman by use of words, sounds, gestures, or the exhibition of any object in such a way as to intrude upon the privacy of a woman” with a fine and one year in prison.
- Under Section 298 A and Section 298 B of the Indian Penal Code, a man who is found guilty of making a female the target of obscene gestures, remarks, songs or recitation, can be imprisoned for a period of three months.
Although the fine and punishment sometimes feel too little to make-up for what we suffer, mentally and physically, it is at least a start. Do remember these Sections before you head out of your house next and Never tolerate ill-treatment, no matter how humiliating. Stand up for yourself if you want equality and respect.
P.S. A letter to the Chief Justice of India has been written to request a review of punishment for eve-teasing and other crime against women in the country and in hope of a positive response.