The term “Modesty” is defined by different people in different ways. In a simple way, it can be defined as the way of Conduct or performance which intends to prohibit the stimulation of Sexual attraction in others. The standards of Modesty differ from one society to the other. Talking in specific about the Modesty in the case of women they vary widely in different cultures.
For example, some societies do not allow women to show any part of their body except the face, and some other societies do not allow women to speak to the opposite gender, who are outside their family, some societies consider it indecent to show certain parts of the body. So, the standards of Modesty are distinct.
This article discusses the instances of how a woman’s modesty is outraged. It provides a clear idea as to how the modesty of women is defined. The scope of this article extends to the explanation of various provisions under IPC (Indian Penal Code) which deal with the aspect of Outraging the modesty of women and also various other aspects coming under this primary subject.
Modesty has got a very liberal way of defining that is far better than earlier ways. When society underestimates the Modesty of a woman, that leads to violence against women. We often come across or see that the people are committing acts that would result in the insult of a woman’s Modesty. There are many offences that are being committed against the women, which basically means “Outraging the Modesty of Women”.
The consequences of these are very sorrowful. Some of them including, women finding it difficult to walk alone late in the nights, fear of stranger men while they travel, rapes, sexual assaults, etc. The concept of treating women as “mother” or “sister” is created because without such acknowledgements the view of respecting women and her desires would never come into the light and would fall through at its face.
The men are required to maintain some sense of propriety when it comes to their relations with women. Thus, the Modesty of women can somehow be preserved. The outrage against the women’s modesty has been observed for a long time. As the quantum of cases under this aspect increased rapidly and became so brutal, the Law has come up with more serious action against the persons who are accused of outraging the modesty of women.
Crimes against Women in India
The women in India are prone to serious offences. The superiority established by men over women is also a major contributing factor to these offences. The women are generally treated weaker be it physically or psychologically.
It is so pitiful to see that the women in some societies not only are being exploited the stranger men but also by their husbands physically, sexually and emotionally. Also, according to the norms of a few societies, the women must obey whatever the men say and according to them, they do not even have the right to decide whether to continue her pregnancy or terminate it.
The following are some of the serious offences against women, in India:
- Sexual offenses
- Harassment at home and at the workplace
- Immoral trafficking
- Exploitation of women
- Physical torture
- Mental Cruelties
Causes of Offences against Women
Around the world, on average, at least one out of three women is physically and mentally abused, forced to have sex, and is beaten up, according to a study based on 50 surveys. Some women are raised up in a kind of atmosphere which helps them in developing the inferiority feeling. This results in a situation where even a woman generalizes and convinces herself to a position saying that there is nothing wrong with committing the crime which is committed against her. There are many causes for the commission of offences against women. The following are some of the significant causes:
- The inferior status of women due to social conditioning
- The patriarchal structure of society
- Lack of Literacy
- The supremacy of husband and in-laws
- Society’s tolerance towards violence against women
Indian Laws dealing with the Offences against Women
There are various provisions under IPC, which deal with the subject, Violence against Women. The four major provisions which form the prominent part are stated and explained hereunder.
Section- 354, Outraging the Modesty of Women
According to this Section, if a man uses force against a woman or threatens to use force against her, it is considered as a special crime. The action taken against this crime is so serious that it allows the police to arrest the accused without a warrant.
The phrase “Outraging the Modesty” is nowhere explained in any law. The Supreme Court while deciding a case, referred to modesty as feminine decency and virtue that women possess owing to their sex.
The Supreme Court in the case of Ramkripal v. State of Madhya Pradesh, defined what Modesty is by saying ‘essence of a woman’s modesty is her sex’.
The punishment given to the accused of the crime committed under this Section is imprisonment between one to five years along with a fine.
Section 354(A), Sexual Harassment
Though there is a separate law which specifically deals with this subject, that is “The Sexual Harassment of women at workplace (prevention, prohibition, and redressal) Act and Rules 2013”, yet there are provisions in IPC that are different from the special law dealing with the Sexual Harassment.
The IPC allows a woman to file a criminal case against the person who sexually harassed her, whereas the special Law on sexual harassment at the workplace gives the woman a choice where she can seek civil remedies or damages under it. The special Law is limited only to the harassment committed at workplaces, but IPC punishes such harassment committed anywhere.
Section-354(A) of IPC defines the Sexual Harassment as an Unwelcoming touch or any such physical contact, requesting or demanding to have sex or any sexual activity, showing pornography through any source such as books, magazines, photos, videos, etc against the woman’s will and making remarks which are prima facie sexual in nature.
The punishment imposed on the accused of committing the above-mentioned offenses except for the fourth type (causing remarks of sexual nature) is three years imprisonment and for the fourth type, it is one-year imprisonment.
Section 354(C), Voyeurism
Under this Section, it is considered as a crime when a man captures or watches a woman who is carrying out her private acts under the conception that no one is observing her. These private acts include women using the lavatory, taking bath, undressed, or engaged in a sexual act. The legal term for such a crime is Voyeurism.
The punishment given to the accused under this Section is between one and three years of jail term and if the same person commits this crime for more than one time, then the punishment would fall between three and seven years of imprisonment.
Section 354(D), Stalking
According to this Section if a man continuously follows, contacts or tries to contact a woman repeatedly either online or in-person with an intention to bring up a personal interaction despite the woman’s disinterest, it is known as Stalking.
Stalking is a crime under IPC unless it is done by the person as a part of his legal duty.
The punishment for stalking a woman is three years of imprisonment, which may extend to five years on repeated offenses.
The Modesty of Women is being challenged even in their own families. This had been a private matter since it was considered as a trivial issue within the families. But they have turned into major issues in the society because the society is constituted by the ideology of people living under a community. The community is nonetheless a group of families following certain established norms as per their convenience. When a family is well equipped with the knowledge of treating everyone equally, then there is such thing as women being oppressed in the family.
Harassment has become a big problem that women are facing within their families. Women are harassed by their husbands and their relatives in demand for dowry. Some women, due to these kinds of acts, with insufferable pain, are committing suicides.
To do away with such kind of atrocities against women in the family the Law intervened in the matters of family domain, by which these issues became public from private. There were significant changes brought to get rid of these crimes, two of such being the introduction of Section-498(A) and Section-376(A) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC).
The Section-498(A) of IPC aims at preventing the cruel acts committed by the husbands and relatives that arose out of dowry demands
Section-376(A) of IPC punishes a person having sexual intercourse with his wife, without her consent.
It is so dreadful to see that the criminal activities against women are increasing at an alarming rate. The Modesty of the women is being insulted and outraged so often. The development of the country depends on growth where both the economic as well as social factors are taken into consideration. The factor of treating everyone equally is also included in the socio-development. The Constitution which is said to be the Law of Land requires everyone to be treated equally which means both women and men are to be treated equally. Due to the established patriarchal structure of society and the misconception that men are superior over women, the Modesty of women is being scandalized. So to conclude, it is so important to know and make everyone aware of what rights does the Law offer women and understand the provisions of law which deal with punishing the offenses committed against women.
Q.1. What is Modesty?
The simple way of defining the Modesty is the feminine decency and virtue that women possess owing to their sex.
Q.2. When is the Modesty of women said to be outraged?
According to one of the Supreme Court judgments “The act of pulling a woman, removing her saree, coupled with a request for sexual intercourse would be an outrage to the modesty of a woman; and knowledge, that modesty is likely to be outraged, is sufficient to constitute the offense”
Q.3. Is it still a crime if a woman agrees to capture a take a picture of her under the circumstances mentioned under Section-354C of IPC?
It is not a crime if a woman agrees to capture her picture until and unless it is sent to a third party which she has not agreed for, to be sent.
For example, if A agrees to B to take a picture of her being nude for him to work on a sketch. This is not a crime until B keeps that picture to himself or not sending it to others.
Q.4. Under which Section can a woman file case if she is being tortured by her husband?
She can file it under Section-376(A) of IPC if her husband is having sexual intercourse with her, without her consent. If the situation is different where she is being tortured by her husband or his relatives for some other reasons, then she can file the case under Section-498(A).
Q.5. What is Voyeurism?
If a person captures or watches a woman who is carrying out her private acts under the conception that no one is observing her, then that act can be termed as Voyeurism.