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Now we move on to sexual harassment that happens outside of workplace. We have laws under the Indian Penal Code that that define offences relating to sexual harassment and detail out the quantum of punishment for the same. Here's a link for your reference:
Sections 354, 354A, 354B, 354C and 354D deal with criminal assualt with an intent of outraging modesty, SH, voyeurism and stalking. Any of these acts committed against a woman are liable for penal action against the perpetrator and can result in fine as well as imprisonment.
Section 375 deals with rape and section 376 lays down the punishment for the same.
I am often asked about how one should go about reporting an incident of sexual harassment to the police. I'd like to give a brief overlay of the process.
It is okay if the incident is not recent and was not previously reported. In such cases, a private complaint can be entertained by a magistrate and the police can be ordered to register a complaint and investigate the matter if the magistrate orders so.
Figure out the jurisdiction in which the incident has taken place and approach the nearest police station. In case you cannot approach the same, go to your local police station and the police can then file a "zero FIR"
Once the FIR is registered, the police will begin their investigation and once the investigation is complete and if there is a prima facie case made out, a chargesheet is filed against the accused. In case no offence is made out, police can file a closure report.
In a case where the chargesheet is filed, the burden of proof is on the state to prove that the offence was committed by the accused. The police may really on witness testimonies, documentary evidence, CCTV footage, circumstantial evidence etc.
If the offence is proved then the court will decide the quantum of punishment as per the law. If a party is aggrieved by the judgment of the court, the same can be appealed.
Therefore, one must approach the right police station, report the incident as soon as possible and submit as much information to the police as possible and cooperate with the investigation so as to ensure that it is conducted smoothly.
If you are worried that pending the investigation there is threat to your life/property, you can ask the court to give you necessary protection to ensure your safety and well-being.
Apart from IPC, legislation such as POCSO Act, IT Act etc also deal with sexual harassment. Under the IT Act, sending unwelcome electronic communication which makes a woman uncomfortable is an offence. Same can be reported to the cyber cell of your nearest police station.
Other than approaching the police, you can also approach the @NCWIndia who will help you register your complaint and expedite the proceedings in certain matters. You can also register your complaint online at ncwapps.nic.in/onlinecomplain…
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