Deal with Sexual Harassment

1. What do I do when I get sexually harassed on the road?

It is not possible to have one single strategy to address this. It is important to make a judgment on the spot depending on the context. But there are a few principles that one must keep in mind:

Learn to say "NO" loudly and clearly. Prepare a stock sentence (like "Stop staring at me”) and practice saying it to you until it becomes a reflex. If you are harassed, repeat it again and again – the "broken record"technique is very effective.

Learn to communicate confidence in yourself. Look straight at people who accost you and speak clearly and calmly in response. Show others that you are aware of your rights and where you are. 

2. What if there is more than one person or harassment is by a group?

As mentioned earlier, your strategy must depend on the situation. Thus if it is dark or there are no other people around, it might make best sense to get away as fast as possible. But if there is a crowd or a police van nearby, you might want to complain loudly. 

3. What should I do when people around do not support, say, in a bus or on the road?

Calling out loudly for help is itself a deterrent to most harassers. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Often people don't want to get involved because they are not sure if you need help. Calling the Police on 100 or 1091 has proven useful in many cases as well.

4. What can I do when I see someone else getting sexually harassed?

Speak up. It is important for more people to raise their voice in public against sexual harassment. If the public gets aware and involved, then this will certainly act as a deterrent. Many men harass because they know they can "get away with it". It is important to change this.

5. Is there any law against sexual harassment?

Yes, there are laws against sexual harassment. For Legal Assitance and Information: Under the Indian Penal Code

Section 294:  Obscene acts and songs, to the annoyance of others like :

  1. Does any obscene act in any public place or
  2. Sings, recites or utters any obscene song, ballad or words in or near any public place.

Punishment:  Imprisonment for a term up to 3 months or fine, or both. (Cognizable, bailable and triable offense)

Section 352:  Assault or strain on women.Punishment:  Two years imprisonment, or fine, or both.(Cognizable and bailable offense)

Section 354 (A), which says A man committing any of the following acts -

  1. physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures; or
  2. a demand or request for sexual favours;or 
  3. showing pornography against the will of a woman; or
  4. making sexually coloured remarks

shall be guilty of the offence of sexual harassment. Any man committing the offence under clause

  • 1,2,3 will be rigorously punished which may extend to three years and /or fine. 
  • 4, will be rigorously punished which may extend to one year and /or fine. 

Section 354 (B): Any man who assualts or uses criminal force to any women or abets such act with the intention of disrobing or compelling her to be naked, shall be punished with imprisonment of either not less than three years, extended to seven years and /or be fined.

 Section 354 (C) : Any man who watches, or captures the image of a women engaging in an private act in circumstances where she would usually have the exception  of not being observed either by the perpetrator or by any persib at the behest of the perpetrator or disseminates such image shall be punished not less than one year to three years and can extend to seven years and /or fine.

Section 354 (D) : Any man who -

  1. follows a women and contacts, or attempts to contact such women to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such women; or
  2. monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication.

commits stalking. Thus will be punished for not less than three years (for first conviction) to maximum of five years (repeat offender) and fine.

Section 375 & 376:  A man is said to commit 'rape' if he

  • penetrates his penis, any object or a part of the body;  to any extent, into the vagina, mouth, urethra or anus of a woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person or
  • manipulates any part of the body of a woman so as to cause penetration
  • forces a woman apply her mouth to any part of his bosy (as defined)

against her will, without consent or with her consent which is obtained in fear of death or hurt, or with her consent when she believes the man to be her husband or/and she is lawfully married to him, or with her consent  by reason of unsoundness of mind, intoxication, where women is unable to understand the nature and consequences of consent given, or with or without consent, when she is under eighteen years of age or when she is unable to communicate consent. Imprisonment for not less than seven years to be entended to life and / or fine.

Section 509:  which punishes the “intent to insult the modesty of any woman by use of words, sounds, gestures, or the exhibition of any object in such a way as to intrude upon the privacy of a woman”.

6. How is an incident of sexual harassment proved? On what basis is a case filed?

It is indeed very difficult to prove an incident of sexual harassment, especially if it is visual harassment. But one must learn to recognize harassment. Anything that makes you feel ashamed, humiliated or frightened is harassment. If you feel harassed, you have the right to protest. You may choose to deal with it at the incident or you may choose to approach the police.

 

Lodge a complaint or FIR

Please dont hesitate to lodge a complaint or First Information Report (FIR) with police. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013 and Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013 recognises all forms of sexual harassment as a crime and you can file your FIR using the different sections (visit our page Deal with Sexual Harassment for more details). In case you want support, approach any NGO working on women's rights to assist you in lodging complaint. 

Jagori Helpline 26692700 / 8800996640 , helpline@jagori.org

7. How does one involve men in the process of sensitization?

All men are not harassers; there are men who speak against harassment. One could begin with families, friends and then move onto schools, colleges, men in public spaces etc. It is important to encourage men to talk about these issues, to challenge notions of certain type of masculinity.

As a part of the Safe Delhi Campaign, JAGORI is doing workshops on this issue with college students, both men and women. Men taking actions against Violence against women can also join MASVAW or Must Bol

In case you want us to conduct such a session in your college or community please write to us at safedelhi@jagori.org.