Eve teasing is a serious crime, even if it's not considered as one, as it is harassment of women in public places like the workplace or streets. It can be committed with a sly whistle, casual touch, humming a suggestive song, etc. Indian criminal laws prescribe punishment for the same as it is a gendered crime against women where only men can be the perpetrator. We have also seen Indian films depicting mild teasing accompanied by a song and dance that mostly results in the female protagonist submitting to the male protagonist's advances in the end. So, many youths tend to replicate this example shown on screen in their real lives; hence referred to as the “Roadside Romeos”.
"So, this article will discuss the meaning of eve-teasing, India’s first sexual harassment law (the Vishaka Guidelines), Indian laws that penalise eve-teasing, and many more. Let’s get started!"
Eve teasing meaning
It is one of the gender-based crimes against women, mostly used as a method of enjoyment for men who sees a woman as an object for fun. It is usually ignored, thinking it is harmless and non-violent, and women usually forget the act after some time. But it must also be considered a serious offence of harassment against women.
From where did the term ‘eve’ in eve teasing come from? Ever wondered? You might have heard about Adam and Eve. So, according to Christian philosophy, Eve is believed to be the first woman that God made on earth. Therefore, we can say that all women are generally termed as ‘eve’. Thus the term eve- teasing.
Vishaka Guidelines- India’s first sexual harassment law
In the case of Vishaka vs State of Rajasthan (1997), the Supreme Court described the acts which amount to sexual harassment, they are:
1. Any unwelcome sexually determined behaviour, either directly or indirectly.
2. Any type of physical contact or advances,
3. Any demand or request for sexual favours.
4. Any sexually coloured remarks,
5. Any other type of physical, verbal, or non-verbal conduct which is sexual will amount to sexual harassment.
For a more detailed explanation in simple words, enroll with us on our IPC Course.
Eve-Teasing Punishment in India
The Indian Penal Code does not define eve-teasing. But the meaning of eve-teasing is carried out under many provisions of IPC.
Firstly, eve-teasing is not an offence where an out-of-court settlement can occur. And being a cognisable offence, the police has the authority to arrest the accused without a warrant & commence the investigation without the court’s permission.
Secondly, the police have to register an FIR in all situations. If they refuse to register FIR, one can file a private complaint before the Magistrate under Section 200 of the CrPC along with a Section 156(3) application.
Thirdly, what one needs to register to the police in the FIR is a case of molestation where the cause of action has occurred.
Fourth, under section 468 (2)(c) of CrPC, one will have a limitation of three years for filing an FIR starting from the event date.
(a) does any obscene act in any public place, or
(b) sings recite or utters any obscene song, ballad or words, in or near any public place,
shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both.
Section 354 IPC: This section deals with the offence popularly known as molestation. It applies when the acts of the accused go beyond causing insult or annoyance to the modesty of a woman. There is a clear threat of physical harm to her, it is a non-bailable offence, and the offender shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years or with a fine, or with both.
Any man who shows pornography to a woman against her will,
Makes sexually coloured remarks,
Demands or requests for sexual favours, he is said to have committed the offence of sexual harassment.
Punishment- Maximum 3 years or fine or both
It states that if any man uses criminal force against a woman with an intention to either disrobe her or compel her to be naked, he will be liable for punishment.
Punishment- 3 to 7 years of imprisonment and fine. It is a non-bailable offence.
It states voyeurism which means any man who watches or captures the image of a woman who is engaged in either intimate behaviour or acts of undressing, sexual activity, or any acts that are considered private will then be held liable under this act
Punishment may range from a minimum of one year to three years; fine, it is a bailable offence.
It states stalking meaning:
Any man who follows a woman and tries to contact her or
monitors the use of the internet, email, or any electronic communication by her repeatedly.
Despite a clear indication of disinterest shown by her commits the offence of stalking.
Punishment- it is up to 3years+ fine, and it is a bailable offence
After the Criminal law amendment act 2013, stalking and Voyeurism became non-bailable offences if repeated for a second time.
Section 509 IPC- This section penalises all acts intended to outrage and 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. It is a cognisable and bailable offence that shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term extending to three years and a fine. The burden of proof is on the prosecution.
How to file an Eve-Teasing complaint?
It is always advisable for women to call on 100 (police control room) or 1091, i.e., women's helpline number at the time of the event, or the victim or complainant must immediately visit the nearest police station to register an FIR. After the FIR is registered, the registration number or receipt will be given. The police can never refuse the FIR; after the criminal law amendment act 2013, the provision of zero FIR came up, which requires FIR to be filed in any police station, and the same can be later transferred to the appropriate police station of proper jurisdiction.
Eve- teasing Online Complaint
It is always advisable to “learn to say NO”; for those who don’t understand this, every woman must know what to do in such a case. If anyone around you or you are a victim of eve-teasing and unable or unwilling (due to several factors) to go to the police station, then here’s a list of women helpline numbers you can contact, and action will be taken subsequently. Click on this link for women's helpline numbers.