Sexual violence has always been a major issue that a woman and a girl in India have to face. These individuals already face a lot of challenges in order to obtain justice through our Indian Legal System and for those who belong to other strata of societies. Sexual violence means some individual forces or manipulates another via some sexual activity that is not required or without taking consent from that particular individual. The term sexual violence is usually defined as a criminal offence that usually comprises of sexual assault, rape, sexual abuse and such other crimes which is punishable under the Indian Penal Code. They also take advantage of their fear, age, if they have any illness, disability or under the influence of alcohol or any other cause or effect. Sexual violence takes place in various forms. Some of them have been listed below:
- Sexual harassment: They are a form of unwanted sexual behaviour by making unwelcome and inappropriate sexual remarks or any other physical advances in the workplace or any other area. You should always feel comfortable while working in your office or any other area. If one feels that they are sexually harassed, they must immediately report it to the law enforcement authorities so that they can take appropriate action for the same. A complete definition is also given in the Indian Penal Code which is as follows- A man committing any of these acts will be liable for sexual harassment of a woman under the Indian penal code. In cases of sexual assault, the punishment is given under section 354 b of the IPC.
The components of sexual harassment are as follows:
- Physical contact and advances involving unwelcomely and other explicit overtures.
- Demand for sexual favours
- Showing pornography against the will of the woman
- Making sexually coloured remarks, etc.
Both verbal and physical harassment is included under this definition.
- Stalking: It a serious offence and an illegal act of the following someone and keeping a close watch on them over a period of time. One must be very alert so that the stalking behaviour can be noticed, and action can be taken immediately before the issue escalates and steps can be taken to protect oneself. Instances when stalking is not considered as a crime- Stalking is not considered as a crime when it is carried out under a legal duty or for any sort of investigation or for preventing crime or any other act where reasonable justification is given by the accused of committing such an act.
- Child abuse: In a certain context, it means mistreatment, or a certain set of complex behaviour that includes the following- neglecting the child and abusing the child overall that is physically, emotionally as well as physical and sexual abuse of children.
- Rape: An unlawful sexual activity, where the act of sexual intercourse is committed forcibly that is without seeking the consent of the person, and usually threatening them with some kind of violence or any other action. Rape is also defined in the Indian Penal Code. It is also considered that even if the slightest activity is performed. And is considered as unlawful if the following circumstances are not considered a. If the act is done against her and consent b. With or without any consent for the woman below 18 years of age c. With her consent in cases where the woman is intoxicated or is of unsound mind d. with consent if such consent is obtained by causing fear of death or hurt e. With her consent in case of her husband. F. also when the woman is not able to communicate her consent. Even martial Rape is considered an offensive act and is categorized under rape it is also a punishable offence under Indian Penal Code.
- Cybercrime and Sexual Violence: Recently, many cases have come to light. Many cases have come up, for example- Cyberstalking, pornography sometimes resulting in blackmailing, cyber bullying, and in many other forms.
- Voyeurism: It is defined as a man who is watching or clicking the image of a woman while she is engaged in a private activity, where generally no woman would want an observer for the same. It is a criminal offence under section 354 of the Indian Penal Code.
- Human trafficking: Human trafficking means the trade of humans mainly woman and children for the purpose of forced labour, or sexual slavery or commercial sexual exploitation or for any other reason generally without their consent.
- Prostitution: It means where the practice or employment with regards to engaging someone in sexual activity in exchange for money. There is no strict law under the Indian Penal code yet to cater to punishment with respect to prostitution. In some case where the woman is forced under this for performing the same is considered illegal. However, prostitution is not yet declared as illegal as per the laws of India.
Sexual Violence laws in India
Punishment for the above acts of sexual violence is given under Indian Penal Code it is listed below.
- Punishment for sexual harassment: Rigorous imprisonment for a term of up to three years or fine or it may be both in some cases. In certain instances, it may be simple imprisonment and may extend up to 1 year with or without fine or both.
- In cases of sexual assault against the woman: Imprisonment simple or rigorous up to 3 or a maximum of 7 years along with a fine as decided by the judges.
- Stalking: It is catered under section 354 D under the IPC as a criminal offence. The punishment is divided into two categories they are- Simple offenders, repeat offenders etc. The punishment for first-time offenders is simple or rigorous punishment with imprisonment of up to three years along with fine, and for the repeat offenders, it is imprisonment of up to 5 years for both simple and rigorous plus fine.
- Rape: Rigorous imprisonment of seven years or for life the person responsible for the act is also liable to pay fine.
- Human trafficking: The laws for controlling is governed by the Immoral traffic prevention act 1956, and the person or group found violating such rules shall be punishable with imprisonment of seven years or life imprisonment.
- Voyeurism: The imprisonment can vary from three to a maximum of up to seven years.
- Child abuse: The person responsible for the act will be sentenced to imprisonment of up to six months with or without fine.
Therefore, it is seen that there are very strict laws in India, at least with respect to sexual violence. Thus, it is also universally, noted that generally sexual violence is carried out against women and children. Nowadays, it is seen that many laws which have been laid down for protecting the rights and interest of woman it is lately seen that many have been misusing the rights and making false allegation for the same. Provisions for this must also be made under the law.