"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, or that such gesture or object shall be seen by such woman, or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both", reads Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code.
Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code prescribes a maximum sentence of two years in prison to a person convicted for outraging the modesty of a woman.
The Supreme Court of India has, on various occasions, elaborated on what modesty of a woman means. According to the apex court,
- Modesty is a virtue which is inherent to a female owing to her sex;
- Modesty is an attribute associated with female human beings as a class;
- A woman, young or old, intelligent or imbecile, awake or sleeping, possesses modesty, which is capable of being outraged;
- Modesty of a woman is outraged when the act of the offender is such that it is shocking and can be perceived as an affront to feminine decency and dignity. Example: slapping a woman on her butt, disrobing her, asking her for sexual favour etc.;
- Mere knowledge that the modesty of a woman is likely to be outraged is sufficient to constitute the offence without any deliberate intention of outraging her modesty.
- Section 354 will apply to all sexual acts committed or intended against a woman that stop short of penetration. (Note: The latest Criminal Laws Amendment Bill 2010 proposes to include ALL sexual acts as rape);
- Lack of protest by a woman cannot be an alibi for the “offender” who has “outraged her modesty”.
It appears that women have established arbitrary rule over men in India. All feminist policy in the Western world tends in this direction.