The growing incidence of sexual crimes in India is stealing all our peace. One section of people still feel that strengthening the legal system and the law relating to sexual offences would lead to decrease in sexual crimes. Is the view correct?
Let us first of all, see the provisions available in Indian Penal Code to deal with sexual crimes.
Section 354 : Assault or Criminal Force To Woman With Intent To Outrage Her Modesty
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 may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
Section 294 : Obscene Acts And Songs
Whoever, to the annoyance of others—
(a) does any obscene act in any public place, or
(b) sings, recites or utters any obscene song, ballad or words, in or near any public place,
shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both.]
Section 509: Word, Gesture Or Act Intended To Insult The Modesty Of A Woman
Whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any word, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, of that such gesture or object shall be seen, by such woman, or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.
Section 372: Selling minor for purposes of prostitution, etc.
Whoever sells, lets to hire, or otherwise disposes of any 1[person under the age of eighteen years with intent that such person shall at any age be employed or used for the purpose of prostitution or illicit intercourse with any person or for any unlawful and immoral purpose, or knowing it to be likely that such person will at any age be] employed or used for any such purpose, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall be liable to fine.
Section 375: Rape
1 – 375. A man is said to commit “rape” if he—
(a) (b) c) (d) (Description of actions considered for this offence)
First —Against her will.
Secondly —Without her consent.
Thirdly —With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested, in fear of death or of hurt.
Fourthly —With her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married.
Fifthly —With her consent when, at the time of giving such consent, by reason of unsoundness of mind or intoxication or the administration by him personally or through another of any stupefying or unwholesome substance, she is unable to understand the nature and consequences of that to which she gives consent.
Sixth —With or without her consent, when she is under eighteen years of age.
Seventh —When she is unable to communicate consent.
Section 377: Unnatural offences
Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with 1[imprisonment for life], or with imprisonment of either description for term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.
Section 497 Adultery
Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery, and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. In such case the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor.
Laws available are adequate.
There are many more provisions in IPC which have not been covered in this article for want of space. After going through the IPC one would feel that the legal provisions available are adequate and cover all possible sexual offences. Then why the offences go on increasing?
Can Law be really effective in controlling sexual crimes?
The effectiveness of legal system in control of sexual crimes, hinges on the credibility of the system. Credibility depends on people’s perception of the system, based on their observation of convictions and acquittals of known cases. If people feel that one can get away easily, using the loop-holes and safeguards available in the system, then the credibility gets eroded. While media highlights the commission of offences with focus lights, equal importance is not given when punishment is given.
If one is not certain that justice will be rendered, and then it means that there is no credibility in the system. For example, in Singapore, a pedestrian is entitled to a safe road- crossing, through zebra-crossings. Suppose, a pedestrian is hit by a car, while walking through zebra – crossing, the driver of the car, is sure of conviction, as proved by earlier conviction records. This fear of conviction makes the driver avoid such hits. Pedestrian is also assured of a safe crossing at zebra-crossings.
Unfortunately, in India the statistics of convictions available does not instill fear of punishment in potential offenders. In the absence of this fear, enhanced punishment, quicker process etc. does not help reduce the incidence of sexual crimes.
Even as I am writing this article, I see Head Lines Today TV scrolling news’ Cab driver molest a 4 year toddler’. Rape of toddlers, elderly women, mentally retarded, a lady who was about to commit suicide, rape in cemetery…….Does not these sound so disgusting and abnormal? Does it appear to be a normal criminal act or an act of psychiatric perversion of lusty males? Sexual crimes in India appear almost law- proof and an integral part of Indian male psyche.
The only viable solution!
All these crimes, the way they are committed, the cruelty involved and the victims chosen clearly show that the offenders are neither afraid of ‘law’ nor afraid of God!
Man looks at external appearance, but God looks at your heart. God knows what you are thinking about and what you are up to. He is watching you round the clock. My friend has a teenage son watching internet all the time. When the parents go out, they tell him” Well, you can see internet. BUT DON’T SEE UNWANTED MOVIES. We may not know what you are watching. But God is watching you.” When parents return home, they used to ask the son” Did you watch any unwanted movie?” Son used to reply” No dad, didn’t you tell me that God will be watching my actions!” Fear of God really works. You can escape from Sexual Laws, but not from God!
Let us imbibe this fear of God in our children from their childhood itself.’ Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom’ says the Holy Bible. Let us imbibe this’ fear of God’ in every one and save our toddlers, sisters, wives and mothers from the predators. It might be a long process to change India this way but we can take the first step at least now. Had we taken the first step 50 years back, may be these crimes happening now would not have happened !
By: Sundar A.S