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VOYEURISM – A CRIME AGAINST WOMEN

INTRODUCTION

 The Internet has become one of the greatest friends of men nowadays. Everything could be done in just one click. We are living in the quickest developing existence where change takes place every minute. However, the trouble and predicament of the women in our general society are yet not changing at such a speed. Crimes against women have increased at an alarming rate since the introduction of new technologies. Anyone now has access to the internet and can easily communicate with others. Cyberbullying, stalking, and sexual harassment have all become increasingly frequent as a result of these quick changes, and one such crime is cyber voyeurism.

WHAT IS VOYEURISM?

Voyeurism is a heinous act against women. It is an act of watching and looking, a woman or any other person when such person is doing some private act and expects not to been seen by anyone.  In a literal sense, voyeurism refers to the act of reviewing and watching intimate acts of women for the purpose of profit or pleasure. [1]It is an offence against women wherein the culprit takes photos, make videos, sneaks about and breach the protection of the women. It is an offence against the privacy of women.  It is a demonstration of observing and watching some other individual, in such a condition when such individual is occupied with a private act and expects not to be seen by anyone.

In a broader sense, voyeurism refers to the act of acquiring sexual delight and satisfaction from watching others while they are involved in some sexual activity or are unclothed. It can likewise be characterized as the propensity for keeping an eye on individuals doing activities that are viewed as private, like participating in sexual activities. Voyeurism is an offence against both the privacy and dignity of the individual.

SOME FACTS[2]

According to the data National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)’s 2019 data, there has been a critical ascent in criminal cases. There is a 1.65 per cent increase in cases enrolled, 7.3 per cent expansion in violations against women. According to the data India records a major jump in the cases of voyeurism to 1,393 cases in 2018 from 1,090 such cases in 2017.

Maharashtra announced the most elevated number of cases of voyeurism at 252, trailed by Madhya Pradesh with 163 cases and Kerala at 126 cases. Among urban areas, Mumbai recorded the greatest number of instances of voyeurism at 47, and Delhi at 31 cases.

VOYEURISM UNDER IPC, 1860

The criminal law amendment act 2013, inserted a new section in the Indian Penal. Section 354C of the Indian penal code defines and deals with the offence of voyeurism. According to the section, any man who watches, or catches the picture of a woman, who is involved in some private act where she would ordinarily have the assumption for not being noticed either by the culprit or by some other individual at the command of the culprit or disperses such image will be punished on first conviction with the detainment of not less than one year which can extend up to three years and will likewise be at risk to fine, and be imprisoned on a second or ensuing conviction,  then will be punished with imprisonment for a term which is not less than three years which can be extended up to seven years and also will be liable to pay fine.[3]

ESSENTIALS[4]

  • The act must be committed by the man-

The act of voyeurism can only be considered an offence if the act is done by any man against any woman. The code clearly defines that the offence should be committed by any man.

  • Viewing or recording of that act is essential-

The person doing such an act either had viewed the private activities of the women or had recorded or captured the private activities of the women.

  • The images captures should be the images of some private activities-

The women whose images are captured should be involved in some private activity and expect that no one seeing and observing her.

  • The culprit disperses those private images-

The person after capturing such images of women doing some private activity, without her consent, disseminate such images.

EFFECTIVE WAYS TO TACKLE VOYEURISM

Voyeurism is an offence which not known to many people. Creating awareness about such offences should be an effective way to make them vigilant about the crimes taking place around them. Government agencies and NGOs should come up and host such awareness programs in schools, parks and public areas with open access for general people.

The government should set up some groups or agencies that would keep a periodic check on restaurants, hotels, malls, and other public places. Such places should be checked frequently for violation of privacy. If someone is found negligent in ensuring such protection, then heavy fines and other penalties should be imposed.

The digital cell should keep a watch on sexually related content that is accessible and shared through video streaming sites with video downloading features. The digital cell with admittance to innovation and different administrations gave by the government, bring down a sensible measure of such voyeuristic substance from the web.

CASE LAW

  • V. Jarvis case[5]

In this case, the accused, Ryan Jarvis was a high school teacher in the Thames Valley District School Board at Beal Secondary School , Ontario. He was an educated and renowned teacher in this school and never had any allegations upon him in teaching and on his behaviour with students. He teaches students 14 -16 years of age. While teaching, Jarvis keeps a pen in his pocket which had a camera fitted inside it. Through which he records his female students without their consent. The focus of the videos and audios is on the face upper part and breasts of the female students who have no idea about such video nor have given their consent to do so. No one in the school knows about the act he was doing. When a co-worker gets to know about this, he informed the school authorities. And later the police were also informed by the school authorities. It was found there are 17 videos of 30 different persons out of which 27 were of the school students.

As a result, the teacher was convicted under section 162(1)(c) of the criminal code of Canada for the offence of voyeurism. The supreme court of Canada found him guilty and stated that his act fulfils all conditions to commit the offence of voyeurism. The recording of the students violated the privacy of the students and also destroy the trustworthy relationship between the teacher and her students. Hence, he was convicted for the offence of voyeurism.

CONCLUSION

Voyeurism is an offence which not just abuses the right to protection of women but likewise, it exploits and damages the respect and personal development of women. It additionally crushes the trust of a woman in public places and muddles their harmony. Voyeurism is perhaps the most uncontrolled wrongdoings, gazing at India in today face. The offence of voyeurism and the remedy available for this offence is still unfamiliar and lesser-known. Having very much drafted laws won’t overcome any issues except if and until they are carried out successfully. It is fairly suspicious that even after 70+ years of independence women in the country are not safe and are still struggling for their liberation and safe environment.

Author(s) Name: Kanchi Agrawal (Bennett University, Greater Noida)

References:

[1] Prasthyusha, ‘Voyeurism’ <https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-3010-voyeurism.html> accessed 14 August 2021

[2] ‘Voyeurism highest in Mumbai, Delhi, says data’ , (Livemint, 10 January 2020)  <https://www.livemint.com/news/india/voyeurism-and-stalking-highest-in-mumbai-delhi-says-data-11578655314549.html>  accessed 14 August 2021

[3] Indian penal code 1860, s 354c

[4]  Sunanda Kumari ‘Voyeurism under the Indian Penal Code- section 354C’ (Blackgown, 29 July 2020) <https://www.blackgown.in/voyeurism-under-the-indian-penal-code-section-354c/> accessed 14 August 2021

[5] (2019) 1 S.C.R.488

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