Outraging Modesty of Women by Kanika Bhatia

Section 354 of Indian Penal Code clearly explains

“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 shall not be less than one year but which may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

The law makes it a special crime to use force against a woman, or even threaten to use force, if the intention is to ‘outrage her modesty’. It treats it more seriously than normal and criminal force by allowing the police to make arrests for such crimes without a warrant.

The law does not explain what ‘outraging modesty’ means. Courts usually make this determination by looking at all circumstances surrounding the incident. The Supreme Court referred to ‘modesty’ as feminine decency and a virtue that women possess owing to their sex.

WHAT IS MODESTY?

In state of punjab vs major singh

The Supreme Court held that the essence of woman’s modesty is sex and anyone who has committed an act against a woman which is clearly suggestive of sex, then such acts shall be punished under section 354 of IPC. In this case, the accused had walked into the room of a seven and half months old female child, he was held to have committed an offence under section 354 as he had intentionally outraged the modesty of the child by committing an indecent act. The Supreme Court held the accused liable as he had outraged the whatever modesty the little victim was capable of.

So,the act shall be considered as an assault outraging the modesty of any woman if such an act is construed to be an indecent act by the common understanding of the right-minded persons of the society. Further, the word modesty as used in the section is attributed to the sex of the victim as decided by the Courts in various cases.

Moreover, It is not enough that the victim’s modesty is outraged. It is an offence only when the accused intended or knew it to be likely that the acts in question would outrage the victim’s modesty.

The punishment is jail time of between one and five years along with a fine.

 

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