Outraging the modesty of a woman

Sec 354 of IPC states that whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any woman, intending to outrage or knowing it to be likely that he will there by outrage her modesty, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than one year but which may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine.

What constitutes an outrage to female modesty is nowhere defined. The essence of woman’s modesty is her sex. This provision is enacted to safeguard public morality and decent behavior. Intention is not the only criteria for the offence punishable u/s 354 of IPC. And it can be committed by a person assaulting or using criminal force to any woman , if he knows that by such act the modesty of the woman is likely to be affected. The culpable intention and knowledge is the crux of the matter. The test for ascertaining whether the modesty of a woman has been outraged, is that the action of the offender should be such that it may be perceived as one which is capable of shocking the sense of decency of a woman. The reaction of the woman is very relevant, but its not always decisive.

 The case of Rupan Deol Bajaj v. KPS Gill (AIR 1966 SC 309) is the very first case of outraging modesty of the woman.

Here the court stated that intention and knowledge being states of mind may not be proved by direct evidence and may have to be inferred from the attending circumstances of a given case. The sequence of events indicates that the slapping was the finale to the earlier overtures of the accused.

The sequence of facts are as follows:

  • Accused asked the victim to come and sit near him as he wanted to talk to her and when the victim went to sit in a chair next to him the accused suddenly pulled that chair close to his chair. Felling a bit surprised, when she put that chair at its original place and was about to sit down, the accused again pulled his chair closer.
  • Realising something was wrong she immediately left the place and went back to sit with the ladies. After about 10 minutes the accused came and stood in front of her so close that his legs were about 4″ from her knees; He then by an action with the crook of his finger asked her to “get up immediately” and come along with him;
  • When she strongly objected to his behaviour and asked him to go away from there he repeated his earlier command which shocked the ladies present there;
  • Being apprehensive and frightened she tried to leave the place but could not as he had blocked her way. Finding no other alternative when she drew her chair back and turned backwards, he slapped her on the posterior in the full presence of the ladies and guests.

The Court further stated that from the conduct of the accused we can deduce the requisite culpable intention. Even if we had presumed he had no such intention he must be attributed with such knowledge, as the alleged act was committed by him in the presence of a gathering comprising the elite of the society. So the court allowed the appeal.

  • The  Criminal Law Amendment Act of 2013 has inserted section 354-A, Sec 354-B, Sec 354-C and Sec 354-D.

Sec 354-A states that a man shall be guilty of the offence of sexual harassment if he commits the following act:

  • Physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures; or
  • A demand or request for sexual favours; or
  • Showing pornography against the will of a woman; or
  • Making sexually coloured remarks,

Vishaka vs State of Rajasthan (AIR 1997 SC 3011)

This is the landmark case in which the Supreme Court has given guidelines regarding the issue of sexual harassment in work places. It is because of this case, that sec 354-A was enacted. The Court stated that  Sexual harassment includes such unwelcome sexually determined behavior as physical contacts and advance, sexually coloured remarks, showing pornography and sexual demands, whether by words or actions.

  1. Assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe:

Sec 354-B states that —Any man who assaults or uses criminal force to any woman or abets such act with the intention of disrobing or compelling her to be naked, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than three years but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

  • Sec 354-C deals with the offence of Voyeurism. The ingredients of voyeurism are as follows: If a person-

Either watches ; or

Captures the image

Of a woman engaged in a private act

In circumstances where she would usually have the expectation of-

Either not being observed by the perpetrator; or

Not being observed by any other person at the behest of perpetrator.

  • Sec 354-D deals with the offence of Stalking. It states that;

Any man who-

follows a woman and contacts, or attempts to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman; or

monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication,

Commits the offence of stalking

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

Do follow me on FacebookTwitter  Youtube and Instagram.

The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at adv.aishwaryasandeep@gmail.com

We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.

We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge

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