Monday, 7 February 2022

Legal Provisions related to Sexual Offences against women


The law makes it a special crime to use force against a woman, or even threaten to use force, if the intention is to outrage her modesty it treats it more seriously than normal and criminal force by allowing the police to make arrests for such crimes without warrant. The provisions come under section 354 of Indian Penal Code. 

The law does not explain what ‘outraging modesty’ means. Courts usually make this determination by looking at all circumstances surrounding the incident. The Supreme Court referred to ‘modesty’ as feminine decency and a virtue that women possess owing to their sex. The punishment is of between one and five years along with a fine. It is not enough that the victim’s modesty is outraged. It is an offence only when the accused intended or knew it to be likely that the acts in question would outrage the victim’s modesty. 


According to section 354A IPC, sexual harassment is the:

  • Unwelcome touching or other physical contact. 

  • Asking or demand sex or any other sexual activity

  • Making remarks which are of a sexual nature. 

  • Showing pornographic material which may include videos, magazines, books etc.

There is a separate law on sexual at workplaces – the sexual harassment of women at workplace (prevention, prohibition and redressal) Act and Rules 2013. There are provisions in the main criminal law which are different from the special law on sexual harassment. 

  • The IPC is not limited to sexual harassment at the workplace, but punishes such harassment done anywhere. 

  • The IPC makes it possible to file a criminal complaint if you have been sexually harassed, while the special law gives you the option of seeking civil remedies and damages, involving your office administration. 

The punishment for the first three kinds of sexual harassment is three years as compared to the fourth type which is one year. 


According to Section 354C IPC, it is a crime to look at or capture (say by means of a photograph or video) a woman going about her private acts, where she thinks that no one is watching her. This includes a woman:

  • using a toilet, or

  • who is undressed or in her underwear, or

  • engaged in a sexual act.

The legal term for such acts is voyeurism. The punishment is jail time of between one and three years along with a fine. If someone is found guilty of committing the same crime more than one time, the punishment is jail time of between three and seven years along with a fine.


If the woman agrees to private photos, it is not a crime to take them. However, if she expects them to remain with only certain people, then sharing them is a crime. The law makes it clear that the woman has to expressly consent to both, watching/taking pictures as well as sharing them, for it to not be an offence.


According to Section 354D IPC, Stalking is: 

  • Continuously following a woman or contacting her, 

  • Either online or in person

  • Where she has clearly shown she doesn't want the attention

It is punished by three years for a first offence, and five years for repeat offences. The section makes an exception if a person is stalking a woman as part of a legal duty to do so. The punishment is jail time of up to three years along with a fine. If someone is found guilty of committing the same crime more than one time, the punishment is jail time of up to five years along with a fine.

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