Eve-teasing is one of the existing silent forms of crime against women. Every woman underwent such an experience in her lifetime. Many times it goes beyond limits. Several instances of eve-teasing have been followed by more violent assaults such as acid attacks, kidnapping, rape and murder. School and college going girls are at the top of the list of victims of eve-teasing. Though this is a social menace, very fewer studies are conducted to address this problem.
The term Eve-teasing has been used to refer to any indecent conduct or act by a man which causes or is likely to cause intimidation, fear, shame, or embarrassment to women including abusing or causing hurt or nuisance. Whistling, vulgar comments, touching or groping, lewd jokes, blowing kisses, stalking, sexual gesturing or unsolicited photography are the various forms of eve-teasing.
Usually, the young unemployed men, when associated with friends are mainly responsible for eve-teasing. The main reasons for eve-teasing are time pass, attraction to the opposite sex, male dominance, see women as sexual objects, no fear of punishment, unemployed youth, lack of social/moral values, the harmful impact of media etc. One of the main consequences of eve-teasing is increased girl’s drop out of school.
Other consequences are early marriage, suicide, family shifting from the locality, girls being blamed and mental trauma. Self-defence like martial arts is very much needed for girls these days to resist this. Apart from that be alert about the surroundings while travelling alone, be it day or night. Always keep the police, close friends, family contact numbers on speed dial.
Keep an attitude of self-respect that gives more confidence and not feel nervous by the tactics of eve-teasers. Parents make sure that your daughter feels free to talk to you about anything. Sometimes very young girls cannot handle eve-teasers on their own. In such cases, the assistance of adults is needed. Eve teasing violates women’s right to live with dignity. However, It is noticeable that many girls/women are unaware of their legal rights or how to fight this menace.
Many don’t even know that eve-teasing is a punishable offence. It is important that girls should be aware of the legal rights concerned with eve-teasing so that they can report it and ensure that perpetrators are penalised. Educational institutions should take up this task to educate girls in this regard. Following are the legal provisions related to eve-teasing under several sections of the Indian Penal Code.
Section 294: This section penalises men who annoy a woman by committing any act of obscenity in public, including cheap comments, making gestures against a woman which is obscene in nature. He shall be punished with imprisonment either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both.
Section 354: This section deals with the punishment for physical abuse & molestation. So if a man tries to touch or grope a woman, he can be charged under this section. It is a non-compoundable offence and the term for imprisonment extends from 1-5 years.
Section 354 A: This section gives a penalty to a man who tries to make physical contact in private or public space or verbally asks for sexual favours or makes a sexually coloured remark or shows you pornography, then he has committed the offence of sexual harassment, shall punish with imprisonment up to three years.
Section 354 B: 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 for at least three years, extendable to seven years, shall also be liable to fine.
Section 354 C: Any man who watches, or captures the image of a woman engaging in a private act, in circumstances where she would usually not expect someone to observe her, shall be imprisoned for a period up to three years if it is his first conviction. He will be convicted for a minimum period of three years and a maximum period of seven years if it is his second conviction.
Section 354 D: Any man who stalks a woman either in the real world or virtual world with an intention to foster personal interaction, repeatedly, despite a clear indication of disinterest by the woman, commonly recognised as the offence of stalking. If it is the first conviction, the court shall imprison the accused for a term extendable to three years, but if it is the second conviction for the same offence, the imprisonment will be for a period of 3-5 years.
Section 509: This section applies if a man utters any word with the intention of insulting a woman’s modesty. It also applies to any sound or gesture, or any object used to intrude upon the privacy of the woman. Under this section, the accused will be punished with imprisonment for a period extendable up to three years.