Speak up, law is on your side!
Crimes against women
By: Mir Safa
In the contemporary world, where the development is at its peak, be it scientific development or any other, offences against the women are still witnessed across the whole world. In our beautiful valley Kashmir too women are facing a lot of crimes including stalking, eve teasing, dowry death, harassment by husband and relatives of husband. Sexual harassment has become common at colleges, public places, roadsides, offices, while travelling in buses. The harassment includes usage of words and gestures which insult the modesty of a woman.
These incidents are a matter of concern and taking steps against these crimes are necessary so that the women of Kashmir could live with respect, dignity and honour.
There are many legal provisions which provide the punishment for offender committing offences against the women. The Indian Penal Code (IPC) lays down the provisions to penalise the culprit for the crimes against the women.
1) Dowry death section 304B of IPC: Where the death of a women is caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry such death shall be called “dowry death” and such husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused her death.
Punishment for dowry death: 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.
2) Cruelty by husband or relatives of husband section 498A of IPC: Whoever being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.
Explanation: for the purpose of this section, cruelty means:
- a) any willful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger of life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman, or
- b) harassment of the women where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any lawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.
3) Assault or Criminal force to women with intent to outrage her modesty, Section 354 of IPC: Whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any women intending to outrage or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby outrage her modesty, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine or with both.
4) sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment, Section 354A of IPC:
A man committing any of the following acts…..
1) physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures or,
2) a demand or request for sexual favour or
3) showing pornography against the will of a woman or
4) making sexually colored remarks, shall be guilty of the offence of sexual harassment.
5) any man who commits the offence sepcified in clause 1 or clause 2 or clause 3 of sub section one shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine or with both.
6) any man who commits the offence specified in clause( iv) of sub section 1 shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine or with both.
5) Stalking section 354D: This section talks about stalking. The term stalking means the act of following or trying to contact despite disinterest of woman.
Stalking: Any man who:
- i) follows a woman and contacts, or attempts to contact such woman to foster personal interaction despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman or.
- ii) monitors the internet, email or any other firm of electronic communication used by a woman, commits the offence of stalking.
For the first conviction, the punishment is imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years with fine
The punishment for second conviction may extend upto 5 years of imprisonment with fine.
The crime rate against women is increasing day by day. It is our duty to protect and safeguard the rights and interests of the women. Only laws are not responsible to regulate and control the offences against the women. At an individual level it is obligatory to inculcate social ethics, morals and values in our society. It is the duty of every being to respect and honour the woman folk and this can reduce the number of crimes against women. However there is also the need of stringent punishment so that any person who intends to do such crimes could not screw up the courage in committing the crimes.
Right to free legal aid: Free legal service is an essential fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution of India. A woman is subject to such free legal aid service by virtue of section 12(c) of the Legal Service Authorities Act 1987 irrespective of her income or financial status. A woman can approach District Legal Service Authority in District Court where she can get all the assistance like hiring of lawyer free of cost etc.
Any woman who ever faces such kinds of offences shall seek the guidance of lawyers, law students, NGO’s who are tirelessly working for women right. Every woman has a right to express if she faces uncomfortabilty with any person. Staying silent, or neglecting such offences will make the culprit more dominating Raise voice against stalking, eve teasing, sexual harassment if you ever face. A woman has every right of expressing it. These offences are not just against woman but against the whole society and public morality.
- The writer is pursuing BA LLB from Sopore law College.