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Voyeurism

We are living in the fastest growing world where the change happens every now and then. Nonetheless the plight of the women in our society is still not changing in such a pace. We come across heinous crimes happening around us very frequently on the women but we don't give a tinker's damn unless it is upon us. Almost every woman in this society face the sexual harassment -from the very tender age but many such goes unnoticed.

The concept of pride and honour is very much prevalent here to such an extent that even the family kills their kin and kith in the name of honour killing. We come across such crimes over and over again. According to the recent statistics 89 rape cases are being registered every single day among which 27.8 percent are minors. In spite of the pain that the woman go through during rape or any kind of sexual harassment, the society stills blames a woman but not a man. For that reason many victims remain silent but never dare to complain.

It is in the year 2012, when the Delhi gang rape case shook the entire India and a lot of protests and outrage happened. That's when a special committee named JUSTICE VERMA COMMITTEE was appointed to probe into the women related laws. According to the report given by the committee The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013 was introduced to amend the existing provisions in criminal law with regard to improve the safety of women.

New offences like, acid attack, sexual harassment, voyeurism, stalking have been incorporated into the Indian Penal Code.. The intrusion into private space of the victim without his/her permission where the victim expects no one to watch him/her while performing such an act is known as voyeurism. A voyeur is generally defined as:
a person who derives sexual gratification from the covert observation of others as they undress or engage in sexual activities.

At present we are living in a digital era where people are closely connected through the internet and mobile lines. Especially due to the rise of smart phones and cheap internet prices a large section of people are able to access the internet easily. Many digital revolutions also took place such as Jio's data revolution which made internet accessible to everyone. Due to these rapid changes IT (Information and Technology) ACT, 2000 came into force which covers various cyber crimes.

The electronic voyeurism is also covered under this act. The separate section has been introduced in the IT Act, 2000 by Information Technology Amendment Act, 2008 by the influence of Section 1801 of Video Voyeurism Prevention Act of 2004 a Federal Law of USA dealing with the felonious act of video voyeurism.

Casual voyeurism can be problematic if someone take certain steps which violates the privacy of an individual and if such interests are uncontrollable for oneself. Certain voyeuristic fantasies, urges and behaviour patterns as a paraphilia which is a disorder of sexual preference. In order to be diagnosed with voyeuristic disorder the symptoms must persist for over six months and the person in question must be over the age of 18.

Origin:
The term voyeurism is derived from the French voir which means to see. A male voyeur is commonly labelled as Peeping Tom or a Jags. However, that term is usually applied to a male who observes somebody secretly and, generally, not in a public space. The word voyeur means the one who looks'. It is the habit of spying on people doing actions that are generally regarded as private, such as engaging in sexual activity or undressing. In voyeurism, the person being observed may have no connection with the voyeur in any way.

Definition:
Voyeurism can be expounded as an interest in observing unsuspecting people while they undress, or naked, or engage in sexual activities. The person doing the watching is called a voyeur. In general they are called as peeping toms.

Essential factor of voyeurism is that the person being watched doesn't know they're being observed. The person is typically in a place where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as their home or other private area.

Provision Under IPC:

(section 354C) Voyeurism.-Any man who watches, or captures the image of, a woman engaging in a private act in circumstances where she would usually have the expectation of not being observed either by the perpetrator or by any other person at the behest of the perpetrator or disseminates such image shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than one year, but which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine, and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, 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.
Explanations:
  1. For the purpose of this section, private act' includes an act of watching carried out in a place which, in the circumstances, would reasonably be expected to provide privacy and where the victim's genitals, posterior or breasts are exposed or covered only in underwear; or the victim is using a lavatory; or the victim is doing a sexual act that is not of a kind ordinarily done in public.
  2. Where the victim consents to the capture of the images or any act, but not to their dissemination to third persons and where such image or act is disseminated, such dissemination shall be considered an offence under this section.

Punishment:
Any person found guilty of this offence shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than one year, but whch may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine, and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, 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.

The second of subsequent conviction is not second accusation of offence. Only after the accused has been punished once for the act, the second or subsequent offence commences thereafter.
This offence is bailable and is triable by any magistrate of first class.

Need For Separate Provision:
Notwithstanding the numerous legal provisions that are made to punish the culprits who commit offences against the women, the cases relating to the women (such as rape, outraging the modesty of a woman, sexual harassment, dowry deaths, etc.) are shooting up at a high pace.

Voyeurism is a paraphilia that involves sexual pleasure from viewing unsuspecting individuals undressing, already nude, or involved in sexual activity. It can also be defined as the habit of spying on people doing actions that are generally regarded as private, such as engaging in sexual activity or undressing. In voyeurism, the person being observed may have no connection with the voyeur in any way.

Though voyeurism doesn't harm any person physically as such but creates a mental trauma and pressure over the person. It is the grave violation of Right to privacy which is a facet of Right to Life according to article 21 and violation of equality before law and equal protection of law according to article 14 of the Indian Constitution. The private acts includes when a women is in toilet , or who is undressed, or who is involved in a sexual activity, etc.

Introduction To Indian Law:
After a heinous gang rape case of a 23 year old woman; Justice Verma Committee was established by the dint of which Criminal Law Amendment Bill, 2013 was brought into force. The Committee's report looks at privacy in tandem with other jurisdictions where the right to privacy is looked at as a right to personal development and autonomy offering a zone of interaction even in public spaces.

The panel recognised the need to curb all forms of sexual offences and recommended-Voyeurism be punished with upto seven years in jail; stalking or attempts to contact a person repeatedly through any means by up to three years. Acid attacks would be punished by up to seven years if imprisonment; trafficking will be punished with RI for seven to ten years. Various sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC) were revised and amendments were made in the Code of Criminal Procedure (1973), the Indian Evidence Act (1872) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (2012). Many new provisions were made and new offences such as acid attack, sexual harassment, voyeurism, stalking have been incorporated into the Indian Penal Code.

Electronic Voyeurism under Information Technology Act, 2008:
The section has been introduced in the IT Act, 2000 by Information Technology Amendment Act, 2008 by the influence of Section 1801 of Video Voyeurism Prevention Act of 2004 a Federal Law of USA dealing with the felonious act of video voyeurism which says:
  1. Whoever, in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, has the intent to capture an image of a private area of an individual without their consent, and knowingly does so under circumstances in which the individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
  2. In this section:
    1. the term capture', with respect to an image, means to videotape, photograph, film, record by any means, or broadcast;
    2. the term broadcast' means to electronically transmit a visual image with the intent that it be viewed by a person or persons;
    3. the term a private area of the individual' means the naked or undergarment clad genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or female breast of that individual;
    4. the term female breast' means any portion of the female breast below the top of the areola; and
    5. the term under circumstances in which that individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy' mean:
      1. circumstances in which a reasonable person would believe that he or she could disrobe in privacy, without being concerned that an image of a private area of the individual was being captured; or
      2. circumstances in which a reasonable person would believe that a private area of the individual would not be visible to the public, regardless of whether that person is in a public or private place.
  3. This section does not prohibit any lawful law enforcement, correctional, or intelligence activity.

    The amendment was made and the section is inserted to attempt to prohibit voyeuristic conduct and to protect the privacy of an individual. Internet is the most common thing now a days and a large number of women and teenagers are being trapped here. Security in the present cyber world is the most sensitive element.

    The Section 66E IT Act, 2008 recognizes the right to protect the human body from unreasonable and obscene intrusion by video technology and adequately protects the individual privacy from the crime of video voyeurism which destroys personal privacy and dignity by secretly videotaping or photographing unsuspecting individuals.

    Sending obscene material (photos, pictures, films, messages) to a woman through social media is an act of sexual harassment under the IPC. Showing or sending a woman pornographic or sexually explicit material without her consent is a form of sexual harassment under Section 354A of the IPC.

    The perpetrator of such a crime can be punished with 3 years of imprisonment, or a fine, or both. It is a crime if the woman gave consent for the pictures to be taken but did not give consent for these private pictures to be shared online. The punishment for this offence can range from 3 to 7 years and a fine. Section 67A of the IT Act states that if material which is published online is sexually explicit, the person can be imprisoned for 5 years and be liable to pay a fine of upto ten lakhs.

Voyeuristic Disorder:

Casual voyeurism can be problematic if someone take certain steps which violates the privacy of an individual and if such interests are uncontrollable for oneself.

They may be a cause for concern if someone:
violate a person's expectation of privacy in their home, a locker room, or a similar area watch a person engage in sexual activity without their consent begin filming or photographing another person without their permission enter an area illegally in order to watch people feel frustrated or stressed when you can't engage in these behaviours experience feelings of guilt after engaging in these behaviours can't get sexually aroused without watching others can't resist voyeuristic activities, even when they're detrimental to your well-being.

This kind of Voyeuristic disorder requires a diagnosis from a mental health professional.
They'll look for certain things before making a diagnosis, such as:
  1. having recurrent and intense desires to watch people including those who are naked, disrobing, or engaged in sexual behaviours-without their consent
  2. experiencing these desires for more than six months
  3. feeling that these desires get in the way of their social or professional life
Voyeuristic disorder is very uncommon among females; the minimum age for a diagnosis of voyeuristic disorder in any individual is 18 years due to puberty and the corresponding age-appropriate sexual curiosity and activity. Therefore, it's important to analyze the diagnostic criteria and contributing factors that may change over time or with age. Furthermore, childhood sexual abuse, substance misuse, and hyper sexuality have all been suggested as risk factors.

Landmark Judgement:
R V Jarvis
Facts: Ryan Jarvis (Jarvis) was a high school teacher in the Thames Valley District School Board (School Board) at Beal Secondary School (School) in London, Ontario. He used to teach the students of 14 to 18 yrs and he never had any allegations either upon his teaching or on his behaviour. Jarvis was recording female students through a pen which had camera fitted inside and the videos were made without the consent of the students.

Neither the school nor the school board game him the permission to do so. When the co-worker knew about this he informed it to the principal of the school and the principal later informed it to the police authorities and it was found that there were 17 active videos of 30 different individuals 27 were female students at the School. The focus of the audio and video footage was on females' chest areas. Jarvis was charged under section 162(1) (c) of the Criminal Code of Canada for committing the offence of voyeurism.

The section states:
Every one commits an offence who, surreptitiously, observes-including by mechanical or electronic means-or makes a visual recording of a person who is in circumstances that give rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy, if the observation or recording is done for a sexual purpose.

Judgement:
The trial judge concluded that Jarvis' behaviour was immoral and breach of his obligation to his profession. Recording done for a sexual purpose of the test could not be met, Jarvis was found to be not guilty of the offence and was acquitted.

But the Supreme court of Canada found him guilty as the recording violated the policy of the school board, and the relationship of trust between a teacher and a student. The videos targeted specific female students, often with a focus on their breasts. The students would never expect their school to be recorded in such a manner, by a teacher. Apparently they had a reasonable expectation about privacy.

Conclusion:
In spite of the numerous legal provisions made to punish the culprits who commit offences against the women, the cases relating to the women (such as rape, outraging the modesty of a woman, sexual harassment, dowry deaths, etc.) are shooting up at a high pace.

According to the second report released by Georgetown University's Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS) in 2019 which considers inclusion, justice and safety of women as 3 main factors along with 11 sub indicators, India is ranked 133 out of 167 countries and is not considered as a safe place for women.

The privacy and keeping their personal information private is also an essential part of the security of people. The criminalization of stalking, acid attacks and voyeurism gives some confidence to the citizens that their privacy rights are being safeguarded. Right to Privacy is the very basic right and is the facet of Right to life which is a fundamental right of every citizen.

The sending of an MMS capturing the private area of any person thereby violating of his privacy under the parameters detailed under Section 66E of the IT Amended Act, 2008, would also be now brought within the ambit of penalty and punished with imprisonment as per law.

Some people gets habituated for the offence (paraphilia) of voyeurism knowing that it's not correct. Such people need to be diagnosed under the medical supervision. There is a need to come up with more strict and stringent laws so that any person intending to commit such crimes looses courage to perform such an act.

Introduction of Voyeurism as offence in the Indian Penal code, 1860 under section 354C and certain changes in information technology can bolster the women safety in our society.

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