Author: Diksha Nautiyal, IV year, Law college Dehradun
In this article, I want to highlight the offences against women. As in the present situation, the crime against women is increasing today in the world. As society is increasing, offences against women are also increasing because of changing lifestyles, imbalance in economic growth, change in social ethos and concern for moral values contribute to a vicious outlook towards women. There is huge discrimination between women and men recognised in society. These offences hurt dignity and manipulate women in all ways. This is a very important crime that should be discussed in length so that women are protected.
Right from birth, there is huge discrimination of genders. In the past, the girl child was killed in the mother's womb. The men of these human societies have always overpowered the women in every possible manner. According to the National Crime Bureau, a total of 8, 9097 cases are related to crimes against women.
Overall 3, 71503 cases of crime against women were recorded by the National Crime Bureau. Offences against women are also known as violence against women. These offences are increasing at an alarming rate across the world. These offences against women are classified as –
Murder, robbery, theft, stalking, acid attack, outraging the modesty of a woman, voyeurism, cruelty by husband or his relatives.
Offences against the human body
Dowry death is the most common offence against women in Indian society. When the daughter is born the family member thinks that the daughter is a burden on them. So they gave dowry at her wedding. If they fail to give dowry then the daughter is being tortured by in-laws.
This offence is defined under section 304 b of the Indian penal code 1860.
The essential elements of section 304 b are
The death of the woman is caused by any bodily injury.
The death must occur within seven years of marriage.
And such death or bodily injury must be subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any other relative.
Such cruelty or harassment must be connected with the demand for dowry soon before her death.
In the second part of the section, the word dowry is defined in section 2 of this section. And section deals with punishment Whoever commits dowry death shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life.
Rape is a common offence against women. There are several cases increasing day by day. The number of cases is recorded by the national crime bureau. This offence is defined under section 375 of Indian penal code 1860 when a man commits rape when there has been sexual intercourse with a woman. In the following circumstances-
Against her will
Without obtaining her consent
When the consent has been obtained, that consent must not be done by putting the person in fear of death
When the consent has been obtained fraudulently by promising her to be her future husband
When the consent is given by a person who is of unsound mind or intoxicated or unable to understand the nature and consequences of that to which she gives consent
With or without her consent, when she is under sixteen years of age
When she is unable to communicate consent
If any of these circumstances occur, rape is said to be committed
Section 376 of Indian penal code 1860 defines the concept of punishment of rape which is imprisonment of not less than 7years or which may extend to imprisonment for life and shall also be liable for fine.
Section 376 A mentions punishment of causing death or resulting in a persistent vegetative state of victims. This shall not be less than 20 years but may extend to imprisonment for life, which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life, or with death.
Section 376 B mentions sexual intercourse by a husband with his wife during separation. This shall not be less than 2 years, but which may extend to 7years, and shall also be liable to fine.
Section 376 C defines sexual intercourse by a person in authority; this shall not be less than 5 years but which may extend to 10 years and also liable for a fine.
Section 376 D states when there has been any gang rape, punishment for the same shall be not less than 20 years of imprisonment which may extend to life imprisonment and fine.
Section 376 E punishments for repeat offenders.
It is the most terrifying case which challenged the security of women. It is a landmark case of 2013. Where 23 years old girl is raped by six people. In this, all accused were convicted except the minor sent to reform for 3 yrs. Supreme Court mentions the punishments of rape included a minimum of 20 years of imprisonment and death in extreme situations.
Compelling a woman for marriage
Under section 366 of the Indian penal code 1860, if a person kidnaps, abducts any woman to compel her marriage without her consent
The essential elements of this section are
There must be a kidnapping or abduction of a woman
The accused must have intention or knowledge
To compel her for marrying any person against her will, or
Forced or seduced to illicit intercourse
According to the second part of this section
Whoever using criminal intimidation as defined under section 503 of this code
The offender must have either the intention or knowledge that she will be forced or seduced to illicit intercourse.
Punishment is also defined in this section as imprisonment for 10 years and shall also be liable for a fine.
Outraging the modesty of a women
Under section 354 the accused uses assault or criminal force against a woman for outraging her modesty.
The essential ingredients are
assault or use of criminal force against a woman
intending to outrage or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby outrage her modesty.
In the case of Tarkeshwar Sahu v.the State of Bihar, the Supreme Court held that it is decorum attached to a woman owing to her sex. For instance, the act of pulling a woman's unwrapped sari, coupled with a request for sexual intercourse would be termed as an act of outraging the modesty of a woman.
Acts offending the decency of a woman
The offence of sexual harassment is defined under section 354 A. A man committing any of the following acts –
Physical contact and advances
Any demand for sexual favours
Any remarks on a body that is sexually coloured
Showing off pornography
Any other forcible physical, verbal or non–verbal conduct of sexual nature.
The offender shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or shall be liable for a fine or both.
In the case of Vishakha v. State of Rajasthan, the Supreme Court held that sexual harassment is a violation of fundamental rights. Article 14, 15, 19 (1) g, 21 are being violated by sexual assault.
In this case, the Supreme Court recognized the concept of sexual harassment and safety measures are given to women in the workplace.
Assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe –
Section 354B deals with the offence of assaulting or using criminal force on any woman or abets such act to disrobe or compel her to be naked. Shall be punished with imprisonment of not less than 3 years which may extend to 7 yrs with a fine. This is a gender-specific offence where the only male has to be punished for his actions.
Voyeurism is an activity where people gain the pleasure to watched other people engage in sexual activity. This is an offence defined under section 354C of the Indian penal code said that if any man watched or captured the picture of a woman when she is engaged or engaged in a private act then, the person is said to be punished with imprisonment for any described term which shall not be less than 1 year, but it may extend up to 7 years and also liable for a fine.
Explanation 1 - defines the private act of the person
Explanation 2 said about when the woman has given consent to capture the image but has not given consent for circulation to a third party.
Under section 354D, the offence of stalking is defined.
Follows a woman and contacts to advance some personal interaction despite her denial,
Monitors the use of any electronic communication by women.
Such conduct shall not amount to stalking;
When it is done to prevent or detect crime;
When is done to obey any condition imposed under the law;
When it is done under such behaviour or conduct it is reasonable and justified.
The offence of stalking shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to pay a fine for it. And be punished on a second conviction with the imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, and shall also be liable for the fine.
Cruelty by the husband or relatives of the husband
This offence is defined under section 498A of the Indian penal code. This section punishes the cruelty of the husband or his relatives of a woman. In India, there is a patriarchal set- up in society. So women are suffering from domestic violence. This section provides security to women against violence acts done by their husband or relatives. The punishment defined in the section for an offence is imprisonment for a period not more than three years and shall also be liable for a fine.
Explanation (a) - defines the term cruelty as any wilful act which is likely to drive a woman to commit suicide or causes serious injury or danger to life, limb or health.
Explanation (b) section said that harassment of a woman to coerce her or her family, for demanding any valuable property or security amounts to cruelty.
In India, there is a patriarchal society where women face huge discrimination in different ways. In this type of society, the men always try to overpower women for this. They use the tool of violence. They always try to suppress women in different ways.
In India, women face violence at every place or moment whether it is her home or outside the home or workplace or even in public places. Despite having so many laws defined under the Indian penal code, 1860 and other laws like the dowry prohibition act 1961 etc ..., we are still lacking in providing security to women in our country. And the number of cases of domestic violence, rape, acid attack etc. Are rising at a disturbing rate and it is getting worse day by day. So we need more laws to be implemented.