This article is written by Janvi Kashyap, a First year B.A. LLB (Hons.) Student of Ideal Institute of Management and Technology (Affiliated to Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University), Delhi.
In India Violence against women refers to sexual or physical violence, which is committed against women, usually by the opposite gender. The general meaning of ‘crime against women’ can be direct or indirect hurt to women. This can be broadly classified into two categories, that is physical or mental. The situations or incidents in which only women are subjected to crime are characterized as ‘crime against women’.
Common forms of violence against women in India include acts such as murder, domestic abuse, sexual assault and dowry deaths. In order to ponder violence’s against women, the act must be committed solely because the sufferer is female.
Violence against women in India is actually more dispense than it may appear at prima facie. As in most of the assertion of violence are not considered crimes, or may otherwise go undocumented or unreported due to certain Indian cultural faiths, values and beliefs.
There are numerous legal provisions and statutes which punishes the reprobate committing offences against women. In Indian Penal Code, there are some privileged provisions for women as a victim of many crimes. Moreover, there are certain crimes which are directly designated against women known as ‘Offences Against Women’.
Classification of offences against women under Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC)
The Indian Penal Code, 1860, administered certain provisions to protect women against heinous crimes which are directed specifically against them and are detailed herein:-
- Murder, Dowry death, Abetment of Suicide, etc. (Sections 300, 304B and 306)
- Voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons. (Section 326)
- Outraging the modesty of women. (Section 354)
- Sexual harassment. (Section 354A)
- Assault on women with intent to disrobe a woman. (Section 354B)
- Voyeurism. (Section 354C)
- Stalking. (Section 354D)
- Kidnapping, Abduction (Sections 359 – 374)
- Rape (Sections 375)
Murder defined under Section 300 of Indian penal code, 1860
If the person committing the act knows that it is so imminently dangerous that it must, in all probability, cause death or such bodily injury as is likely to perpetrate death commits such act without any excuse for incurring the risk of causing death or such injury as aforesaid.
- Whoever commits murder shall be penalize under this respective statute with death, or for imprisonment of life, and shall also be liable to fine.
- Whoever, being under sentence of imprisonment for life, perpetrate murder, shall be punished with death.
Dowry death defined under Section 304 (b) of Indian Penal Code, 1860
Where the death of a woman is caused by burns or any bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within the time span of seven years of her marriage and it is shown that soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry, such death is known as “dowry death”, and such husband or relative shall be fully responsible and deemed to have caused her death.
Essential Ingredients of dowry death
- Death of a woman is caused by any burns or bodily injury or else than under normal circumstances
- Death must take place within the interval of seven years of her marriage
- And it must also be proved that “soon before her death she was susceptible to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband”
- Therefore, such “cruelty or harassment” must be subjected is or was “for or in association with any demand for dowry”.
In Pawan Kumar & Ors vs. State of Haryana, “the three appellants were convicted for offence under Sections 306, 498A and 304B Indian Penal Code. The deceased’s husband, the father-in-law, and the mother-in-law respectively. The trial court convicted deceased’s husband and sentenced for offence under Section 304B for 10 years and a fine of Rupees 500, under Section 306 for 7 years and a fine of Rupees 200 and also under Section 498-A for 2 years (Section 498A is discussed below in this research article as well) and a fine of Rupees 200.
The father-in-law as well as the mother-in-law were convicted and sentenced under Section 304B for 7 years with a fine of Rupees 500, under Section 306 for 7 years with a fine of Rupees 200 and under Section 498A IPC for 2 years with a fine of Rupees 200. The sentences were ordered to run simultaneously”.
Abetment of suicide defined under Section 306 of Indian Penal Code, 1860
If the person commits suicide, or the individual who lend the hand to such person to commit suicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend up-to ten years, and the person shall also be liable to fine. This offence is Cognizable, Non Bailable and Non Compoundable under Indian Penal Code.
Causing grievous hurt by dangerous Instrument, weapon or means Voluntarily defined under Section 326 of Indian Penal Code-
“If any person (except in the case provided for by Section 335), voluntarily causes grievous hurt by means of any instrument for cutting, stabbing, or shooting, or any substance which can be used as a weapon of offence, is likely to cause death, or by any poisonous or corroding substance or with fire or any other heated substance, or by means of any incendiary substance, or by means of any substance which it is detrimental to the human body in way whether it is to inhale, or to swallow, or to receive into the blood, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend up-to ten years, and the person shall also be liable to fine.”
Essential Ingredients, to hold a person liable for punishment for committing the offence under Sec 326 of Indian Penal Code –
- If the accused commits an act with the knowledge that he was likely to cause grievous hurt to the victim.
- If the person voluntarily caused it. And one force that person to commit such wicked offence.
- If the person committed it by following means:
- By any gadget or tool of stabbing, cutting or shooting;
- By an instrument, used as a weapon, which can cause death of a person.
- By any poisonous or corroding substance or with fire or any other heated substance.
- By using any kind of explosive product or substances or;
- By using substances which are hard to inhale or swallow by a human body.
Section 326A- Causing grievous hurt to the person by the use of acid, etc.
If the person causes permanent or partial deformity or damage to, or maims or burns or disables or disfigures, any part of the body of a person or causes grievous hurt by throwing acid by using any other means, or administering acid to that person with the intention of causing with the knowledge that he is likely to cause such injury, and the person shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than ten years and also which may extend to imprisonment for life, and with fine;
Section 326B- Throwing or attempting to throw acid voluntarily.
If any individual throws or attempts to throw acid on any person or attempts to administer acid to any person, or attempts to use any other means, with the intention of causing partial or permanent damage or burns or deformity or maiming or disfigurement or disability or grievous hurt to that person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years, but which may extend up-to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.”
In case of Laxmi V. Union of India & Ors, “Laxmi a 22 years old lady, who was an acid attack survivor was waiting for a bus in Delhi’s tony Khan Market held in 2005, when two men poured acid on Laxmi after she refused to marry one of them, leaving her deface. Though the victim and her parents were poor, can’t afford the expenses. But they were fortunately helped by a benefactor who bore the medical expenses approximating to Rupees 2.5 Lakhs.
However, even after four plastic surgeries the victim’s physical appearance remains horrific and many more surgeries needs to be done to make her physical appearance a semblance of what it was. The Supreme Court passed an order to put ban on selling of acid in shops. This will helps to preventing acid attacks, the Supreme Court has completely prohibited the counter sale of the chemical unless the seller maintains a recording of the address and other details of the buyer, and the quantum.
Dealers can now only sell the chemical after the buyer showed a government issued photo identity card and after specifying the purpose of purchase. Acid attack is now a non-bailable and cognizance offence. The Supreme Court directed all states to pay acid attack victim Rupees 3 lakh towards medical treatment and aftercare rehabilitation and Rupees 1 lakh within 15 days of an incident and the balance within two months thereafter”.
Outraging the modesty of women (Section 354)
As stated in Indian Penal Code, 1860:-
“Whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any woman, intending to outrage or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby outrage her modesty, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.”
The Essential Ingredients of section 354 are:-
- That the assault must be on a woman;
- That the accused must have used criminal force on her;
- That the criminal force must have been used on the woman intending thereby to outrage her modesty.
Sexual harassment defined under Section 354A of Indian Penal Code, 1860
A man committing Physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures; or a demand or request for sexual favours; or Showing pornography against the will of a woman; or Making sexually coloured remarks.
The person shall be guilty of the offence of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is not only an offence against women rather; It’s a serious public health and human rights problem with both short- and long-term consequences. The term of imprisonment differs on the basis of the gravity of the offence.
Punishment– Any man who commits the offence shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.
Assault on women with intent to disrobe a woman defined under Section 354B of Indian Penal Code, 1860
Any man who assaults or uses criminal force to any woman or abets such act with an intention of disrobing or compelling her to be naked, shall be punished 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.
Punishment- This section clearly states that a man with intent to disrobe (undress) a woman, using the criminal force shall be liable for a prescribed term of punishment (not less than three years). Offence under this section is also a cognizable offence, but Non-bailable. Cases under this section can be tried by any Magistrate.
“Voyeurism” is defined under Section 354C of Indian Penal Code, 1860
Voyeurism is the practice of getting eroticism from watching others when they are naked or are involved in sexual activity. Moreover it also involves getting enjoyment from seeing the distress or pain of others.
As stated in Indian Penal Code, 1860
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.
This 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.
Amendment act: It was introduced in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 through the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 which relates to sexual offence.
Stalking defined under Section 354D of Indian Penal Code, 1860
Any man who follows a woman and contacts, or attempts to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman; or
monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication, commits the offence of stalking.
Punishment- Whoever commits the offence of stalking shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term 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 may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine.
Kidnapping, Abduction (Sections 359 – 374)
Section 359 of Indian Penal Code – “Kidnapping”
Whoever conveys any person beyond the limits of [India] without the consent of that person, or of some person legally authorized to consent on behalf of the person, is said to kidnap that person from [India].
Section 363 of Indian Penal Code – “Punishment for Kidnapping”
Whoever kidnaps any person from [India] or front lawful guardianship shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.
Abduction — Whoever by force compels, or by any deceitful means induces, any person to go from any place, is said to abduct that person.
Rape (Section 375)
It is stated that if a man commit “rape” when he, penetrates his penis, to any extent, into the mouth, vagina, urethra or anus of a woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person; or inserts, to any extent, not being the penis, or any object or a part of the body, into the urethra, the vagina or anus of a woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person; or 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 that is mentioned below in the following descriptions:—
- Against her will and permission.
- Without her concurrence.
- With her permission, when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested, in fear of death or of hurt.
- 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.
- 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.
- When she is unable to communicate consent.
In TukaRam v. State of Maharashtra which is also known as “Mathura rape case”. In March 1972, a 16-year-old tribal girl called Mathura was raped by two policemen in the compound of Desai Ganj police chowky in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra.
Her relatives, who had come to register a complaint, were patiently waiting outside even as this heinous act was being perpetrated in the police station. When her relatives and the crowd threatened to bum the police chowky down, the two guilty policemen, Ganpat and Tukaram, reluctantly agreed to file a panchnama.
At the Sessions Court, Mathura was accused of being a “liar” and that since she was “habituated to sexual intercourse”, her consent was given. However, the decision of the Supreme Court leaves much to be desired, as the rationale for acquittal was that Mathura had not raised an alarm and there were no visible marks of injury on her body. The judgment did not distinguish between consent and forcible submission.
Violence against women in India is increasing day by day. To administer fairness towards the offences against women, we have to take some momentous action through provisions and statutes to punish the reprobate. I attempt to manifest the offences and the violence against women in India. The crimes which are directly designated against the women known as ‘Offences Against Women’ are discussed in this research article.
Apart from this, some acts and provisions are mentioned to administer fairness towards the offences against women, to protect the honor, liberty and dignity of women. This article strives upon the idea to centralize the atrocious crimes against women with relevant case laws under Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860. Moreover, this article also discusses certain acts which deal with the privileged rights to protect the dignified life of women with the recent Amendment Act’s.
 Punishment for Murder – Section 302 of Indian Penal Code.
 Punishment for Murder by life convict – Section 303 of Indian Penal Code.
 Supreme Court 1998
 Section 335 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Voluntarily causing grievous hurt on provocation.
 Section 362 of Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860.
 Section 375 of Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860
 AIR 1979 SC 185
This article is edited by Rupreet Kaur Dhariwal.