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Offences Relating to Women Under Indian Penal Code

Violence against women and girls constitutes a grave violation of human rights and remains one of the greatest challenges to achieving gender equality. Girls and young women and particularly vulnerable to various forms of violence, which leaves deep and long term impacts on their lives, stifling their potential to grow, lead, prosper and thrive.

In the present scenario, the violence and the increasing crimes against women is witnessed by everyone across the world in some or the other manner. It indicates the enormity and pensiveness of the monstrosity perpetrated against women in recent years. The global crusade for the decimation of violence against women is a proof to this fact.

The changes in the living standards, lifestyle, imbalance in the economic growth, changes in social ethos and meagre concern for the moral values contribute to a vicious outlook towards women due to which there is multiplication in crimes against women. Moreover, such incidents are a matter of grave concern and its structure is absolutely necessary so that the women of India could live with respect, honour, dignity, liberty and peace in an atmosphere free from atrocities, denigration and heinous crimes.

There are many legal provisions which punish the culprits committing offences against women. The Indian Penal Code though, provides provisions for women as a victim of many crimes such as murder, robbery, theft, etc. but there are certain crimes which are diametrically characterised against the women known as Offences Against Women.

Crimes against Women under the Indian Penal Code, 1860
  • Rape [Section 375 & 376]
    In simple terms, the offence of rape is the ravishment of a woman, without her consent, by force, fraud or fear.

    Section 375 of IPC defines rape as:
    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.

Explanations:
  1. For the purposes of this section, vagina shall also include labia majora.
  2. Consent means an unequivocal voluntary agreement when the woman by words, gestures or any form of verbal or non-verbal communication, communicates willingness to participate in the specific sexual act.

    Provided that a woman who does not physically resist to the act of penetration shall not by the reason only of that fact, be regarded as consenting to the sexual activity.

Exceptions:
  1. A medical procedure or intervention shall not constitute rape.
  2. Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.

Punishment for Rape (Section 376)
Section 376 provides punishment for committing the heinous crime of rape. This section is divided into two sub-sections.
Section 376(1) provides a minimum sentence of ten years of rigorous imprisonment that may extend to life imprisonment and fine.
Section 376(2) provides that 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.

The above mentioned definition and punishments of rape are the amended definition and punishments, which were introduced through The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.

Amendment after the Nirbhaya Case, 2013:
The main change brought by 2013 amendment after the Nirbhaya Case in the section 375 is that in the ingredients of rape 'sexual intercourse' is no longer a requirement. Oral sex, annal sex, inserting any part of the body or any object into the part of the women's body would suffice as the physical act required to reveal the offence of rape. The age of statutory rape is now 18. Before the amendment there were only six circumstances which revealed rape but 7th circumstance has been added that is 'when she is unable to communicate her consent'. New categories were added in the list of enhance form of rape. Punishments for the various sections of sexual offences have also been made stricter and for rape most of the time punishment leads to life imprisonment.

Various other forms of offences have been added after this amendment. There were no specific provisions mentioned for these offences before this amendment.
These offences are:
  • Sec. 354: Assault or Criminal Force to Woman with intent to outrage her modesty
  • Sec. 354-A: Sexual Harassment and Punishment for Sexual Harassment
  • Sec. 354-B: Assault or use of criminal force to women with intent to disrobe her
  • Sec. 354-C: Voyeurism
  • Sec. 354-D: Stalking
  • Sec. 376-A: Punishment for causing death or persistent vegetative state due to rape
  • Section 326-A: Acid Attack
*The above mentioned offences have been discussed below at their suitable places.*

Custodial Rape [Section 376-C]:
Section 376-C of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 deals with the Sexual intercourse by a person in authority under a new category of sexual offences comprising of a group of sections known as custodial rape which does not amount to rape as, under such cases, the consent of the victim is obtained under some compelling conditions. These persons occupy supervisory positions and take undue advantage of their authority.

Provision under IPC:
Sexual intercourse by person in authority: Whoever, being:
  1. in a position of authority or in a fiduciary relationship; or
  2. a public servant; or
  3. superintendent or manager of a jail, remand home or other place of custody established by or under any law for the time being in force, or a women's or children's institution; or
  4. on the management of a hospital or being on the staff of a hospital, abuses such position or fiduciary relationship to induce or seduce any woman either in his custody or under his charge or present in the premises to have sexual intercourse with him, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than five years, but which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.
After the Tukaram and Another v. State of Maharashtra (Mathura Rape Case) [AIR 1979 SC 185], the IPC was amended to introduce sections 376-A, 376-B, 376-C and 376-D, which made sexual intercourse with a woman in custody 'not amounting to rape' also punishable for imprisonment of five years. [1]

Gang rape [Section 376-D]:
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.

Case Law:
State v. Ram Singh and Another (Nirbhaya Rape Case), 2013
In this case, the deceased victim, a 23-year-old female was brutally raped and tortured in a moving bus by six men including a minor. The victim was tortured to such an extent that she was not only raped but her intestines were pulled out of her body and her genitals were damaged. After raping her, she along with her male friend who was deeply wounded and unconscious while trying to save her were thrown out of the moving bus in a winter night on the roads of Delhi, naked.

Out of them, one committed suicide in jail and rest were hanged to death. Further, the accused who was a minor was sent to a reform facility for three years.[2]

Kidnapping, abducting or inducing woman to compel her marriage, etc [Section 366]:
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; [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].

Procreation of minor girl [Section 366-A]:
Whoever, by any means whatsoever, induces any minor girl under the age of eighteen years to go from any place or to do any act with intent that such girl may be, or knowing that it is likely that she will be, forced or seduced to illicit intercourse with another person shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Importation of girl from foreign country [366-B]:
Whoever imports into [India] from any country outside India [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, shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine.

Outraging the Modesty of Women [Section 354]
Section 354, IPC deals with assault to woman with intent to outrage her modesty. This section aims to protect women against any sort of indecent or filthy behaviour by others which is derogatory to her modesty. This offence is not just against the individual but also against the society and public morality. Therefore, if any person uses criminal fore upon a woman with an intention to outrage the modesty of a woman, he is deemed to be punished with an imprisonment of not less than one year which may extend to five years with fine.

It is not specifically defined under IPC that what constitutes an outrage to woman's modesty. However, the court has interpreted it in various cases. According to the Supreme Court, modesty is an attribute associated with female human beings as a class. Modesty is said to be outraged by such an act of offender which shocks and recognizes as an insult to female decency and dignity.

Essential Ingredients of Section 354
The following are the essential of the offence under Section 354, IPC:
  1. The person who has been a victim of assault must be a woman
  2. The accused must have used criminal force on her
  3. An intention to outrage the modesty of a woman must be there.

Case Law: Aman Kumar v. State of Haryana [AIR 2004 SC 1497]
In this case, the act of pulling a women, removing her dress coupled with a request for sexual intercourse, is such as would be an outrage to the modesty of the women and knowledge that modesty is likely to be outraged is sufficient to constitute the offence without any deliberate intention having such outrage alone for its object. [3]

Offences Relating to Women Under Indian Penal Code
Sexual Harassment [Section 354A]
This new provision was originated in a judgment of the Supreme Court dealing with the issue of sexual harassment at workplace. Through the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, Section 354A was inserted in the IPC which defines the offence of 'sexual harassment' and set down punishment for it.

According to Section 354A, a person shall be guilty of the offence of sexual harassment against a woman in the following circumstances:
  1. If he makes physical contact and advance unwelcome and explicit sexual act;
  2. Demands or requests for sexual favours;
  3. Shows pornography against the will of a woman;
  4. Make sexually coloured remarks.

The punishment for the offences specified under Section 354A (1) (i) to (iii) is the rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine or both and in the case of sub clause (iv), it is imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine or both.

Sexual Harassment caused to a woman, particularly at a working place, drew the attention of Apex Court through various PIL petitions. Finally, through its landmark judgement in the Vishaka and others v. State of Rajasthan [AIR 1997 SC 3011], the Supreme court filled the legislative vacuum in this aspect.

Disrobing a Woman (Stripping) [Section 354B]
Section 354B penalises the offence of assaulting or using criminal force to a woman or abetting any such act with an intention to disrobe or compel her to be naked, with a punishment of not less than three years which may extend to seven years with a fine. It is a gender specific offence i.e. only a man can be punished under this section.

Essential Ingredients:
  1. The accused must be man
  2. Use of criminal force or assault or abetment of any such act must be there.
  3. There must be an intention to disrobe a woman or compel her to be naked.

Voyeurism [Section 354C]
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.

Provision Under IPC:
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.

Stalking [Section 354-D]
The term 'stalking' which generally means the act of following or trying to contact despite disinterest of woman. This section contains two offences. Firstly, where a man follows or contacts or attempts to contact a woman repeatedly despite her clear indication of disinterest and secondly, where a man monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email, or any other form of electronic communication.

For the first conviction, the punishment prescribed is imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years with fine. The punishment for second conviction may extend up to five years of imprisonment with fine.

Ritu Kohli case was the first case of cyberstalking in 2001, she reported against Manish Kathuria who was stalking her on the internet. The IT Act had not come into force then. He was arrested under section 509 of IPC. This led to an amendment in the IT Act, 2008 section 66A was introduced.

Insulting the Modesty of Women [Section 509]
An act which is done intending to insult the modesty of woman which may not necessarily involve any physical force is brought under the shade of this provision through Section 509. This section intends to deter any kind of aggression into a woman's modesty whether by any word, gesture or act or by intruding upon the privacy of such woman. This section is also referred as the Eve Teasing Section.

Any person who commits an offence under Section 509 shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years with fine.

Case Law: Rupan Deol Bajaj v. K.P.S. Gill [(1995) 6 SCC 194]
In this case, the act by the accused of slapping on the posterior of the lady I.A.S officer in the presence of gathering comprising the elite of the society when considered in the light of sequence of events involving overture, words used and gestures made, prima facie amounted to commission of offence under section 509. [4]

Acid Attack [Section 326-A & 326-B]
The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 incorporated Section 326A and 326B with an intend to make specific provision for punishment in the case of acid attack.

Section 326-A focuses on voluntarily causing grievous hurt by using acid. In the view of this section, whosoever causes permanent or partial damage or burns, disfigures or disables any part of the body of a person or causes grievous hurt by throwing or administering acid with an intention to cause such injury or hurt will be punished with imprisonment of at least ten years which may extend to life imprisonment with fine.

Section 326-B has more legislative focus on the act of throwing or attempting to throw acid with the intention of causing grievous hurt. The punishment under this section is imprisonment of not less than five years with fine which may extend to seven years with fine.

Essential Ingredients of Acid Attack:
The following are the requisites of an acid attack
  1. Permanent or partial damage or deformity or burn or disfigure or disable any part of the body of any person; or
  2. Grievous hurt by throwing acid; or
  3. By using any other means;
  4. There must be an intention to cause injury or hurt.
The reason to include this section under the heading offences relating to women is that mostly the acid attacks are done on women who do not agree with the demands of the horrible men.

Case Law:
Laxmi v. Union of India and Others [2014 4 SCC 427]
In this case, Lakshmi who was merely 16-years-old when she suffered from acid attack. The cause of this attack was a refusal to a marriage proposal. After this case supreme court formulated new guidelines. As per the guidelines, acid should strictly not be sold to anyone who is below the age of majority. A photo identity proof was mandated for those who wanted to purchase acid.[5]

Dowry Death [Section 304-B]
Dowry deaths and bride burning are sinful act which are still prevailing in the Indian society. It is a symptom of a special social illness and are unfortunate developments of our society. For this serious matter, the special provision was inserted under IPC through Section 304B which deals with dowry deaths.

Section 304-B defines dowry death as:
  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 har´┐Żassment 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 purpose 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 imprison´┐Żment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life.

Case Law:
Shanti v. State of Haryana [AIR 1991 SC 1226]
It was held that death by drowning, by poisoning, due to bums, by hanging, by strangulation etc. are the instances of abnormal circumstances of death of a woman. If it takes place within the seven years of her marriage, where the death is unnatural, it is not important whether it was caused due to suicide or homicide and Section 304B will be attracted in either case. [6]

Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty [498A]:
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 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 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.
Case Law:
Pradeep Kumar Dey and others v. State of West Bengal, 2015
In this case, the accused persons-husband and the parents-in-law allegedly killed the deceased for non-fulfilment of dowry demand by setting her on tire. There was an evidence of brother of the deceased that the deceased was tortured for money. The fact that no one was at home when the parents of the deceased went to her house and the dead body was lying all alone also showed cruel behaviour of the in laws towards the deceased. Accordingly. The court held that the husband and parents-in law are liable to be convicted under Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code.[7]

Conclusion:
Notwithstanding the number of laws to protect and safeguard the rights and interest of the women, the rate of crime against women and victimization is mushrooming day by day. It implies that only laws are not responsible to regulate and control the augmentation of the crimes against women in our society.

There is need of social awakening and change in the attitude of masses, so that due respect and equal status is given to women. Its a time when the women need to be given her due. This awakening can be brought by education campaign among youth making them aware of existing social evils and the means to eradicate same. The suppression of evil eyes on women and inculcation of social ethics, morals and values, respect and honour in every human being towards women is'

the need of the hour and is a supplement factor that can equally contribute in reducing the number of crimes against women. However, there is an exigency of more strict and stringent laws so that any person intending to commit such crimes couldn't screw up the courage to act in furtherance of his intention.

Reference
  1. Bare Act of the Indian Penal Act (45 of 1860)
  2. PSA Pillai's Criminal Law (14th edition)
  3. https://www.lawctopus.com/academike/criminal-law-amendment
  4. https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-3364-an-overview-of-crimes-against-women-and-available-remedies.html
End-Notes:
  1. AIR 1979 SC 185
  2. State v. Ram Singh and Another (Nirbhaya Rape Case), 2013
  3. AIR 2004 SC 1497
  4. (1995) 6 SCC 194
  5. 2014 4 SCC 427
  6. AIR 1991 SC 1226
  7. Pradeep Kumar Dey and others v. State of West Bengal, 2015

    Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Sheetal Amarjeet Mishra
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