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An Overview Of Crimes Against Women And Available Remedies

In 2014, 25,8,51,563 crimes under IPC were committed among which 3, 25,327 i.e. 11.4% were against women. In the year 2015 total no. of crimes committed were 29, 49,400 among which crimes against women were 3, 14,575 i.e. 10.7%[1]. As per NCRB data, a total of 34,651 cases of rape under section 376 IPC were registered during 2015 (excluding cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012). As per NCRB report of 2018, total crimes committed under IPC and other statues (both included) in the year 2016 were 338954, in the year 2017 were 359849, and in the year 2018 were 378277.[2]

Women have been guaranteed Right to Equality under the Constitution of India. In order uphold and implement the Constitutional Mandate, the Government from time to time has enacted various laws and taken measures intended to ensure equal rights, curb social discrimination & various forms of violence and atrocities against women.

Although women may be victims of any of the general crimes such as 'murder', 'robbery', 'fraud' etc. but only the crimes which are directed specifically against women i.e. gender specific crimes are characterized as 'Crimes against Women'. Various legislation's have been brought and amendments have been made in existing laws with a view to handle these gender specific crimes effectively. These are broadly classified under two categories. This Article aims at giving an overview of crimes against women and the legal resources available.

Crimes under Indian Penal Code:

  1. Rape (Section 375)
  2. Attempt to Rape (Section 376)
  3. Kidnapping and Abduction of women (Section 366)
  4. Importation of girl from foreign country (upto 21 years) (Section 366B IPC)
  5. Dowry deaths (Section 304B)
  6. Assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty (Section 354 IPC)
    1. Sexual Harassment (Section 354A IPC)
    2. Assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe (Section 354 B IPC)
    3. Voyeurism (Section 354 C IPC)
    4. Stalking (Section 354 D IPC)
  7. Insult to the modesty of women (Section 509)
    1. At office premises
    2. At places related to work
    3. In public transport
    4. In other places
  8. Cruelty by husband or relatives (Section 498 IPC)

Crimes under other statutes specifically dealing with the crimes:

  1. The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
  2. The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986
  3. The Commission of Sati Prevention Act, 1987
  4. The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act
  5. Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act,1971
  6. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013

375. Rape.A man is said to commit rape if he:

  1. penetrates his penis, to any extent, into the vagina, mouth, urethra or anus of a woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person; or
  2. inserts, to any extent, any object or a part of the body, not being the penis, into the vagina, the urethra or anus of a woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person; or
  3. manipulates any part of the body of a woman so as to cause penetration into the vagina, urethra, anus or any part of body of such woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person; or
  4. applies his mouth to the vagina, anus, urethra of a woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person, under the circumstances falling under any of the following seven descriptions:
    1. against her will.
    2. without her consent
    3. With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested, in fear of death or of hurt.
    4. With her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married
    5. With her consent when, at the time of giving such consent, by reason of unsoundness of mind or intoxication or the administration by him personally or through another of any stupefying or unwholesome substance, she is unable to understand the nature and consequences of that to which she gives consent.
    6. With or without her consent, when she is under eighteen years of age.
    7. When she is unable to communicate consent.

376. Punishment for rape:

  1. whoever, commits rape, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment of either description for a term which 1 [shall not be less than ten years, but which may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine].
if a police officer or a public servant or member of the armed forces or a relative or a teacher or a guardian of the victim or any other person mentioned in Section 376(2) shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than ten years, but which may extend to imprisonment for life, which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person's natural life, and shall also be liable to fine.

376A. Punishment for causing death or resulting in persistent vegetative state of victim:

Whoever, commits an offence punishable under sub-section (1) or sub-section (2) of section 376 and in the course of such commission inflicts an injury which causes the death of the woman or causes the woman to be in a persistent vegetative state, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than twenty years, but which may extend to imprisonment for life, which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person's natural life, or with death.


376D. Gang rape:

Where a woman is raped by one or more persons constituting a group or acting in furtherance of a common intention, each of those persons shall be deemed to have committed the offence of rape and shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than twenty years, but which may extend to life which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person's natural life, and with fine:

Provided that such fine shall be just and reasonable to meet the medical expenses and rehabilitation of the victim:

Provided further that any fine imposed under this section shall be paid to the victim.

376DA. Punishment for gang rape on woman under sixteen years of age:

Where a woman under sixteen years of age is raped by one or more persons constituting a group or acting in furtherance of a common intention, each of those persons shall be deemed to have committed the offence of rape and shall be punished with imprisonment for life, which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person's natural life, and with fine: Provided that such fine shall be just and reasonable to meet the medical expenses and rehabilitation of the victim: Provided further that any fine imposed under this section shall be paid to the victim.

376DB. Punishment for gang rape on woman under twelve years of age:

Where a woman under twelve years of age is raped by one or more persons constituting a group or acting in furtherance of a common intention, each of those persons shall be deemed to have committed the offence of rape and shall be punished with imprisonment for life, which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person's natural life, and with fine, or with death: Provided that such fine shall be just and reasonable to meet the medical expenses and rehabilitation of the victim:

366. Kidnapping, abducting or inducing woman to compel her marriage, etc:

Whoever kidnaps or abducts any woman with intent that she may be compelled, or knowing it to be likely that she will be compelled, to marry any person against her will, or in order that she may be forced or seduced to illicit intercourse, or knowing it to be likely that she will be forced or seduced to illicit intercourse, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine; 1 [and whoever, by means of criminal intimidation as defined in this Code or of abuse of authority or any other method of compulsion, induces any woman to go from any place with intent that she may be, or knowing that it is likely that she will be, forced or seduced to illicit intercourse with another person shall also be punishable as aforesaid].

366B. Importation of girl from foreign country:

Whoever imports into 3 [India] from any country outside India 4 [or from the State of Jammu and Kashmir] any girl under the age of twenty-one years with intent that she may be, or knowing it to be likely that she will be, forced or seduced to illicit intercourse with another person, 5 *** shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine.]

304B. Dowry death:

  1. Where the death of a woman 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.

    Explanation: For the purposes of this sub-section, dowry shall have the same meaning as in section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 (28 of 1961).
  2. 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.]

354. Assault of criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty

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, 1 [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].

2 [354A. Sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment:

  1. 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 favours; or
    3. showing pornography against the will of a woman; or
    4. making sexually coloured remarks, shall be guilty of the offence of sexual harassment.
  2. Any man who commits the offence specified in clause (i) or clause (ii) or clause (iii) of sub-section (1) shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
  3. Any man who commits the offence specified in clause (iv) of sub-section (1) shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

354B. Assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe:

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.

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.

Explanation 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.

Explanation 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.

354D. Stalking.:

  1. Any man who:
    1. 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
    2. monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication, commits the offence of stalking:
      Provided that such conduct shall not amount to stalking if the man who pursued it proves that:
      1. it was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime and the man accused of stalking had been entrusted with the responsibility of prevention and detection of crime by the State; or
      2. it was pursued under any law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any law; or
      3. in the particular circumstances such conduct was reasonable and justified.
  2. Whoever commits 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 fine; and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine.]

509. Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman:

Whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any words, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen, by such woman, or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, and also with fine.

498A. Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty:

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 purposes of this section,

cruelty means:

  1. any wilful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman; or
  2. harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful 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.]

Crimes under other statutes specifically dealing with the crimes:

Dowry:

If a husband or any other relative of the husband demands dowry from the wife, the said persons will be prosecuted under The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. The Act defines dowry as Definition of `dowry'. In this act, `dowry' means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly:
by one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage; or

by the parents of either party to a marriage or by any other person, to either party to the marriage or to any other person;at or before or any time after the marriage in connection with the marriage of said parties but does not include dower or mahr in the case of persons to whom the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) applies.

Explanation II:
The expression `valuable security' has the same meaning as in Sec. 30 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860).

Penalty for giving or taking dowry

  1. If any person, after the commencement of this Act, gives or takes or abets the giving or taking of dowry, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years, and with the fine which shall not be less than fifteen thousand rupees or the amount of the value of such dowry, whichever is more:

    Penalty for demanding dowry

    If any person demands directly or indirectly, from the parents or other relatives or guardian of a bride or bridegroom as the case may be, any dowry, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to two years and with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees:
    Provided that the Court may, for adequate and special reasons to be mentioned in the judgment, impose a sentence of imprisonment for a term of less than six months.
  2. Indecent representation of women:

    The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act (IRWA), 1986, seeks to prohibit indecent representation of women through advertisements or in publications, writings, paintings, figures or in any other manner and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The Act penalizes persons involved in the publication, distribution and packaging of such material. It, however, allows the publication of such material for scientific and learning purposes, and representation of ancient monuments carrying such imagery.
  3. Sati:

    Any woman whose family members ask her to go through sati, she could approach police authorities and lodge complain under The Commission of Sati Prevention Act, 1987. The Commission of Sati Prevention Act, 1987, Section 2 (c) "sati" means the burning or burying alive of :
    1. any widow along with the body of her deceased husband or any other relative or with any article, object or thing associated with the husband or such relative; or
    2. any woman along with the body of any of her relatives, irrespective of whether such burning or burying is claimed to be voluntary on the part of the widow or the women or other-wise;

  4. Trafficking:

    Trafficking does not mean prostitution. They are not synonymous. In understanding trafficking, one should delink it from prostitution. As per the existing law, Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act 1956 (ITPA) prostitution becomes an offence when there is commercial exploitation of a person. If a woman or child is sexually exploited and any person gains out of the same, it amounts to commercial sexual exploitation (CSE), which is a legally punishable offence wherein the culpability lies against all exploiters. Trafficking is the process of recruiting, contracting, procuring or hiring a person for CSE. Therefore, trafficking is a process and CSE is the result.

    The definition of trafficking can be found in the various sections of ITPA. Section 5 speaks about procuring, taking and even inducing a person for the sake of prostitution. According to this section, even attempt to procure and attempt to take or cause a person to carry on prostitution amounts to trafficking. Therefore 'trafficking' has been given a broad scope.
  5. Female Feticide

    Section 313 to 316 of The Indian Penal Code and Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act,1971 deal with the topic of Female feticide, or forcing the wife to terminate her pregnancy are also other forms of domestic violence recognized as offence under the Indian Penal Code.

    An Act to provide for the prohibition of sex selection, before or after conception, and for regulation of prenatal diagnostic techniques for the purposes of detecting genetic abnormalities or metabolic disorders or chromosomal abnormalities or certain congenital malformations or sex-linked disorders and for the prevention of their misuse for sex determination leading to female feticide; and, for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
  6. Sexual Harassment at workplace:

    The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 was enacted as per the guidelines laid by the Supreme Court of India in the case of Vishakha vs State of Rajasthan[3]. This Act deals with the sexual harassment faced by the women at workplace. The aim of the Act is to protect the women from the sexual abuse faced at workplace and punish the culprit. Before this Act, there was no law dealing with the abuse faced by women at workplace.

Conclusion
Thus the above Article in short gives an Overview of Crime Against Women with remedies with a view to help common citizens can understand. The legislations are in place and so are the implementing agencies. All that is needed is to take a step forward and report to curb them.

End-Notes:
  1. https://ncrb.gov.in/sites/default/files/crime_in_india_table_additional_table_chapter_reports/Chapter%205-15.11.16_2015.pdf
  2. https://ncrb.gov.in/sites/default/files/Crime%20in%20India%202018%20-%20Volume%201.pdf
  3. AIR 1997 SC 3011
Written By:
  1. Swapana Pramod Kode
  2. Swarali Sunil Joglekar
  3. Priyanka Chauhan

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