Mumbai: The recent case of IAS officer’s daughter Varnika Kundu being stalked by the son of Haryana BJP Chief Subash Barala in Chandigarh is making headlines. It is now known that the stalking incident is not an isolated case and there have been many cases that went unreported.
With the spate in cases of Molestation, Harassment, Rape of Women in Society there have been number of awareness initiatives by the Police, Citizen Groups, NGO’s and even our own Bollywood. There have been number of recent films like Pink, Matr, Mom, etc. highlighting the issue.
However besides awareness, a woman must also know about her legal rights when confronted with any form of sexual harassment.
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Eve teasing is prohibited under section 294 and section 509 of the Indian Penal Code while the more serious crimes of Sexual assault and Rape are covered under section 354 and 375 of the Indian Penal Code.
In case of sexual harassment at work, a woman can register a complaint under the recent Sexual Harassment Act 2013 which has now mandated every organization employing more than 10 employees.
Cyber Sexual Harassment under Section 66A of the IT (Amendment) Act, 2008 prohibits the sending of offensive messages through a communication device (i.e. through an online medium) to a lady.
Domestic Violence falls under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code.
Dowry has a separate Act i.e. the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961.
Proper police procedure knowledge is also essential for women while dealing with acts of violence against them.
A woman does not have to worry about matters of ‘jurisdiction’ while filing an FIR. Also a recent change is that a victim, who is unable to go to the police station, can also register a police complaint by e-mail or registered post addressed to the senior police officer or Deputy Commissioner or Commissioner of Police.
Under section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, a woman can record her statement in private or in front of a lady constable if she has been raped.
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A woman filing an FIR is entitle to get the services of a lawyer for free to avoid humiliating enquiries and the risk of being misquoted.
A woman is allowed to file a complaint even at a later date after the incident and still not be barred by time.
The identity of a woman who has filed for rape cannot be revealed, published, broadcasted, filmed under any circumstances and has to remain anonymous.
A woman accused of a crime cannot to be arrested at night.
A case of rape cannot be dismissed even if the medical report says that rape has not been committed.