We Have Laws Against Street Harassment In India, But Are They Being Implemented As They Should?

What is the use of our laws against street harassment if we do not ensure that the stalker is punished, but instead shame the victim? 

Recently, a girl from Delhi was abducted and raped by her own friend.

There are many such cases pending in the courts and police stations but we are not concerned about a victim’s pain. We aggravate their sufferings by victimising them more and by blaming them for getting abused or raped. As if they expect that every man will look at them and try to comment on them, and if a woman refuses to react then they will rape them.

We do not ‘expect’ this. Modesty is not about virginity but it is about having self-respect.

On an average, more than 80% girls and women are facing street harassment on a daily basis. Still, we are not taking any kind of action to fight such nuisance and narrow-mindedness. Why? Because, we worship patriarchy more than our Gods. We ignore the aspects of socialization and then provoke inhumane traits of insane and toxic masculinity in men. We create a man who thinks that he is superior than others. ‘Othering’ women and other genders is common, and the feeling of ‘socialized otherness’ makes women more vulnerable to crimes.

There are several laws which are safeguarding women with a ‘protectionist’ approach but their implementation becomes a major issue due to lack of public awareness, and a basic disregard of considering women human beings with their own agency.

We are endowed with knowledge but we refuse to share it with others. Why? Because we think being selfless is not appropriate for this world. It is true but we need to challenge the hypocrisy of this world to initiate a change and only revolutionised minds are trained in a better way to bring revolution.

Many girls complain about somebody stalking them but they often have to satisfy themselves by listening to advice like ‘don’t react’. The politics of ‘don’t react’ often leads to crimes because perpetrators think women are fragile humans who are passive enough to not to take any kind of action against whatever they do.

Section 354 D IPC defines stalking as an offence committed by a man who follows a woman or tries to contact her or attempts to get her personal information despite knowing that the woman is disinterested. The definition also talks about cyber stalking wherein a stalker monitors the use of internet by woman, stalks her via using social media platforms, etc.

Stalking is listed under sexual offences but the popular notion of stalking is like a love story depicted in Bollywood which starts from a comment on features of woman or how ‘sexy’ she looks. The popular notion of stalking is seen to be like a fairy-tale which turns out to be a nightmare in reality. Stalking is a form of street harassment which hinders a woman’s right to privacy and the stalker might end up in jail for three years and he is liable to pay fine only if laws are enforced without leading to further victim-blaming.

Under Section 354 C IPC, voyeurism is considered as an offence by a man who watches or captures the image of a woman engaging in private act in circumstances where she would not want to get observed.

Many men commit crimes of passion without even thinking if they are right or wrong. They capture their ex-girlfriend’s private moments to blackmail them and some of them will morph the pictures and put these morphed pictures on porn sites to fulfil their revengeful ego. Voyeurism is a punishable offence which can lead to one to seven years of imprisonment and the person is also liable to pay fine.

There are laws we can take help of, us but we tend to use our social convictions instead, to state that women need to be protected and then, we try to restrict women’s movements. Which is regrettable.

We need to understand that toxic masculinity is neither good for a man nor good for society. Patriarchy will always remain a woman’s premier enemy wherein she will have to fight to protect her own rights on a regular basis. We cannot ignore the sufferings of women and say that she was harassed as she had many guy friends or she was wearing a short dress. Instead, we must look at things from a broader perspective and comment and act upon socialization more often.

Image source: pixabay

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I pursued my post graduation in Women's Studies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences,

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