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Crimes Against Women: National And International Perspective

We realise the importance of our voice, when we are silenced-Malala Yousafzai

To ride a bicycle we need two wheels for maintaining balance, in same way, to run our lives and ecosystem we need proper balance between men and women. Talking about women they are considered as a foremost part in our daily life, they are not only responsible for growth and development of upcoming generation but also for handling works from office to home.

Women are considered equally important as men in our society but the question arise that do they get the same value or do they get the same status as men the answer to all these questions is no, even in 21st century women are not able to get the equal rights as men, it does not matter how much developed or advanced we become but until we are not able to remove this discrimination from our minds, from our mankind we cannot be called developed or advanced.

Instead of getting the equal standard as men, women are forced to face discrimination against them. Offences against women is not a new concept we can see that various numbers of crimes are committed against women from ancient times, the irony is that even after so long we are not able to cure it or eradicate these crimes against women. As per secretary general of United Nation Antonio Guterres, sexual violence against women is rooted in centuries of male domination[1].

United Nation defines violence against women as:
any act of gender based violence that results in or is likely to result in physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women including threats of such act, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life[2].

A third of all women and girls experience physical and sexual violence in their lifetime,[3] and these crimes can be committed at any age and at any time. The 1st declaration on elimination of violence against women was issued by United Nation General Assembly in 1993 to maintain the status of women in our society and protect them with the passing time various laws has been made at international and national level by the authorities to protect the interest and standard of women in our surroundings.

Major offences against women
At present there is diversity of offences or crimes that are committed against women. as we know that gender-based violence or violence against women is not limited to a particular area or to a particular country but it's a global pandemic that affects 1 in 3 women in their lifetime. It is said that
  • 35% of women all around the world have faced either physical or sexual violence by their intimate partner or non-intimate partner[4].
  • Globally 7% of women have expressed sexual assault[5].
  • Globally 38% of murders of women are committed by intimate partner etc[6].
These are just rough figures if we talk about reality there are so many incidents which are not reported or which do not come in the light of people. We can classify some of the major offences against women as sexual harassment, rape, domestic violence, women trafficking, discrimination, eve teasing and cybercrimes.
  1. Sexual harassment:
    This is one of the major offence that can be faced by a woman or a girl this act can be performed anywhere from home to office, market can be defined as when there is unwelcomed or unnecessary touching or derogatory comments, impleading or blocking movements or any other act which cause sense of fear in women is called as sexual harassment[7].
  2. Rape:
    Such an offence comes under the category of grievous crime against women or girl, nearly 1 in 5 women (18.3%) have been raped in their lifetime[8]. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has defined rape 1st time in Akayesu case in 1998 as A physical invasion of a sexual nature committed on a person under circumstances which are coercive[9].
  3. Domestic violence:
    This includes a range of abuse against women, including economic, physical, sexual, emotional and phycological towards a woman[10] at home by her own partner or family members, these cases are mostly left unreported because women mostly avoid to tell what is going on in there home.
  4. Trafficking:
    It refers to an activity where force, coercion and fraud is used to transport women across international boundaries for economic gain, 70% of victims are women and 50% are children under 18 years. This is done to avail cheap labours in factories, household agriculture industry and sex industry[11], with the time passing this is becoming more frequent practice.
  5. Discrimination:
    Due to the orthodox mentality of people who thinks that women are weak, there arises discrimination between men and women at every point of time. As per the convention on elimination of all forms of discrimination against women it defines it as any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field[12].
  6. Eve teasing:
    It is an act of annoying women in public places[13], it can be making sexual comment or continuously watching her at public place, it can be experience by very women nowadays. In a survey 36 women (40.4%) interviewed who faced eve teasing 61.1% reported feeling of anger, 47.2% reported feeling of shame or humiliation and more than 1/3rd reported feeling of worry or tension[14].
  7. Cyber crime:
    In the present time every person uses the technology it has became the lifestyle of every person but with that there are several disadvantages and due to which the number of cyber crimes has been increased. In normal terms we can explain cyber crime as any unlawful act where computer or communication device or computer network is used to commit or facilitate the commission of crime[15],various offences comes under this category of cyber-crime such as cyber defamation, sexting, cyber stalking, child pornography, cyber bulling etc
These all are some of the basic and heinous crimes that can be committed against women once in her lifetime to stop or reduce the number of these we have various international or national legislations, laws which are even proved to be helpful.

Offences against women: Indian legislations
In order to curb the offences prevailing against the women in the country, India has made several laws. Offences against women and their provisions in India are broadly classified into two main categories. They are:
  1. Offences against women under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 � Indian penal code is a official criminal code of India. It is a document in which all the offences and their punishments are listed.
  2. Offences against women under special or local laws � In order to protect women from various social evils like dowry, child marriage, domestic violence, sati practice etc., various local and special laws are made in the country.

Offences against women under Indian penal code, 1860
  1. Various offences against women under the Indian Penal Code are:
    1. Acid attack:
      Throwing acid on women is one of the most prevalent crimes that has been committed against the women in India. According to India Today Data Intelligence Unit (DIU), 1,483 acid attack victims have been found in the country from 2014 to 2018.[16] Section 326(A)[17] and 326(B)[18] of IPC deals with such crimes. According to section 326(A), the person throwing acid shall be punished with imprisonment for life or with the imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years and shall also be liable to fine and as per section 326(B), the person shall be punished with the imprisonment up-to 5-7 years and fine.
    2. Rape:
      Rape is the faster growing crime against women in India. As many as 33,356 incidents of rape were reported during 2018 involving 33,977 victims, an average 89 rapes daily.[19]

      Section 375 deals with the offence of rape. Rape, signifies 'the ravishment of a woman against her will or without her consent or with her consent obtained by force, fear or fraud' or the carnal knowledge of a woman by force against her will'.[20] Therefore an unlawful sexual intercourse with a woman without her consent against her will is rape[21] and it is punishable under section 376 of IPC.

      Under section 376(A), the person committing rape shall be punished with the imprisonment of term not less than 7 years which shall extend to life imprisonment and fine.

      The various kinds of rapes punishable under Indian Penal Code 1860 are mentioned below:
      1. Custodial rape:
        when the rape is committed on women when she is in custody of someone it is known as custodial rape. Section 376(2)(a), (b) and, (c) of IPC deals with custodial rape. Custodial rape includes, Rape done by police officer or officers subordinate to him on the women in their custody[22] within the limits of police station, rape by public servant[23] or by his subordinate on the women in their custody, rape committed by the member of armed force in his area of deployment, rape committed on the inmates of jail by the officers.
      2. Gang Rape:
        Section 376(D) punishes gang rape. When women is raped by group of persons , they shall be for the offence of gang rape and shall be punishable with the rigorous imprisonment up-to 20 and fine reasonable to bear the medical expenses and rehabilitation of the victim.
      3. Rape Of minor:
        Rape committed on a girl who is below the age of 18 is rape against girl child. The offence of rape committed against minor girls is punished under the IPC
    3. Dowry death:
      Dowry means the transfer of parental property and gifts from the bride's side to the groom's side. Dowry is the social evil that prevails in the country Since ages. The offence of dowry death is provided under section 304(b)[24] of IPC, when the death of a woman is caused by the bodily injury or otherwise under the seven years of marriage due to harassment by husband's side in relation with the demand of dowry, then the husband or the relative responsible shall be punishable with the imprisonment of at least 7 years which may be extended to life imprisonment.
    4. Sexual Harassment:
      Section 354(a) of IPC deals with sexual harassment and its punishment, inserted in the IPC by the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013. A man who makes a unwelcomed physical contact with a woman and explicit sexual act or shows the pornographic content again her will or demand the sexual favours from a woman or makes any kind of sexually colored remark[25], shall be punished with the rigorous imprisonment for a term which may be extended to three years or with fine or both.
    5. Voyeurism:
      Section 354 (c)[26] of IPC came into the existence after Nirbhaya rape case[27] by the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013. It makes watching or capturing the image of a woman engaged in a private act, in the circumstances wherein she does not expect others would be observing her, punishable. The offence is punishable with simple or rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than one year and fine. The term of imprisonment may extend to three years
    6. Stalking:
      Section 354D[28] , which is added to the 2013 by the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013, makes stalking an offence. A man is said to have committed the offence when he follows a woman and contacts or attempts to contact her to foster personal interaction repeatedly in spite of the fact that she clearly indicated her displeasure or monitors her use of internet or e-mail or any other form of electronic communication.[29]
However there are certain exceptions. A man who is doing it as a part of his responsibility conferred on him by the state to prevent or detect a crime,[30] or to comply with any law or condition or requirement imposed by any person under any law[31]; or in the particular circumstances that make his conduct reasonable and justified.[32]

Offences against women under local and special laws
The main objective of these laws is to curb the evils prevailing in the country. 2. The various special or local laws are:
  1. Dowry (Prohibition) Act 1961:
    Dowry is practice of giving parental property and gifts to groom at a time of marriage by the bride's family.[33] The main reason behind the prevalence of this social evil is the orthodox views which says that men are superior than women. The total 7000 deaths linked with dowry has been recorded in the year 2017[34] and around 20 women every day dies, either murdered or compel to suicide[35], this is the data of the cases which are reported. The count of unreported cases is still not made. In order to protect women from dowry, the parliament has passed the Dowry (prohibition) Act in 1961. Under this act, the giving and of dowry[36] and the demand of dowry before marriage, during marriage or after the marriage[37] is an offence.
  2. Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005:
    Domestic violence is a physical[38], or sexual[39], or verbal or emotional[40] abuse in domestic relationships i.e. marriage, by the husband on the women[41]. India is a country where marriage is considered as a sacred practice which is the reason why women in our country tolerate such evils like domestic violence. The 86% of women had never sought help and around 77% of victims of domestic violence has never said about it to anyone. [42] The aim of this act to protect women from domestic violence. It provide for remedies like protection orders and monetary relief in order to protect women from domestic violence.
  3. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013:
    Sexual harassment at workplace is a major problem women are facing irrespective of their profession. It is increasing rapidly in the country. Therefore After 16 years of Vishaka & ors Vs State of Rajasthan,[43] this act has been passed in order to protect women from the sexual harassment at workplace. This act defines the sexual harassment as unwelcome acts or behaviour[44]. The physical contact or advances would constitute sexual harassment provided such physical contact is a part of the sexually determined behaviour.[45]
  4. The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987:
    Sati is a practice of burning of living widow with the corpse of her husband as token of her love devotion towards her husband. [46] To stop this practice, the Commission of Sati (prevention Act has been passed in 1987. According to this act, the one attempting to sati is punishable with one year or imprisonment or fine or with both. [47] It also punishes the abetment of sati and punishes the sightseers and organisers with the life imprisonment and fine. [48]
  5. The Indecent Representation of Women (prohibition) act 1986:
    This is an act to prohibit indecent representation of women through advertisements or in publications, writings, paintings, figures or in any other manner and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto[49]. The indecent representation[50] means the depiction of women or her body in such a way as it is against the public morality. Any person doing it, at first conviction, shall be punishable with the imprisonment up-to 2 years and at second or subsequent conviction, shall be punishable with the imprisonment up-to 5 years. [51]

International laws
Women constitute the 49.6% of the population of the world.[52] Women are considered as the vulnerable group in the world. The violence against women is recognized in International law as violation of their fundamental rights. To protect the rights of the women, many conventions have been made by the United Nations. The conventions are:-

Universal declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
UDHR was enacted and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in the year 1948. It was the first document and was widely accepted. UDHR is not a legally binding document on its signatories but the countries incorporated the provisions of UDHR under its laws. Every United Nations treaty or declaration does not specifically talks about the violence against women but has relevance. UDHR has various social, cultural, economic, civil and political rights for women.[53]

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
The CEDAW was adopted by the United Nations in 1979, known as the International Bill of Rights of women. The main objective of this treaty was to eradicate all the discrimination against the women prevailing in the world. The states ratifying this treaty need to make provisions in theirs states to curb the discrimination against the women on the basis of race, caste, sex, religion etc. To incorporate the legal provisions in the state.[54]

The Optional Protocol to CEDAW was adopted in the year 1999 which establishes the inquiry and complaint mechanisms. The women can file the complaint who are facing the discrimination though the Optional Protocol.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
ICCPR adopted by United Nations in 1966 has 74 signatories, aims to protect the civil and political rights of men and women. It includes the Civil and Political rights like right to liberty, right to elect, right to legal status etc. Though ICCPR do not explicitly refer to violence against women, in recent years, the Human Rights Committee has interpreted them to include obligations to protect women from violence.[55]

International Covenant on Social, Economic, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
ICESCR is an international human rights treaty adopted in 1966. It ensures the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, including the rights to: Education, fair and just conditions of work, an adequate standard of living, the highest attainable standard of health, social security. States that are parties to this convention have an implicit obligation to protect women from violence as part of their obligation.[56]

It's a modern world but we are still way behind when it comes to the protection of our women. Even after so many laws, the offences against the women are increasing every day. It's a high time when we need to find solutions to curb the offences.

Few suggestions regarding the same are:
  1. Enforcement mechanisms:
    We have made laws, but their enforcement is very weak. The country needs to make some strict enforcement mechanisms in order to enforce the laws made.
  2. Efficient laws:
    There are laws but they are not efficient enough to stop the offences. The procedures are very long and complicated, therefore there is a need to make some efficient laws.
  3. Stay educated and updated:
    People should know what comes under crime as its wrong to do and what are the consequences of doing those crimes.
  4. Develop the broad mentality:
    Everyone should accept that what women are capable of and always remember that they can reach all the hights only if we make it possible for them.
  5. Always have action plan:
    If any person sees any crime happening in front of him/him then they should have a proper plan to sort that out and make it stop.
  6. Self-confident:
    Every woman should have a belief in her and be confident that if anyone tries to do any wrong act with her then she can stop that person and rescue her.
We live in 21st century and the world have made a great development in every field, but the world is way behind when it comes to the protection of women from the evils. On one hand the world is developing in the field of science and technology and other things, on the other hand we have failed to provide a safe world to live for women.

The violence and other offences like rape, domestic violence, eve teasing etc. is a global phenomenon which needs the urgent attention of the entire world. Women are the integral part of the society and deserves a respectful life, free from all the fears. It our duty and responsibility to provide women with a respectable life and a safe world free from all the fears to live.

In India, the women are considered as goddess and the people worship women. Even after so many years of independence, India has failed to provide a security and protection to the women of the country. The crimes are increasing at a rapid rate in India and the condition of women is getting worse day by day.

It can be concluded that the laws which are made are not enough to stop the crimes. We need more laws to protect women from such crimes. Also, the making of laws is not enough, we need to spread social and economic awareness in the country and need to develop the minds of people at social level. We need to create a society where a man respects the women and treats her equally.

  1. Secretary-General's Message for 2019,available at: (visited on July 25,2020
  2. Violence against women, available at: (visited on July 25,2020)
  3. Supra note 1
  4. Gender-Based Violence (Violence Against Women and Girls) available at: (visited July 24, 2020)
  5. Id
  6. Id
  7. Monnin PN The admissibility of evidence of sexual history in sexual harassment claims under the 1994 amendments to Federal Rule of Evidence 412 Vand.L.Rev.1995
  8. Get the Facts & Figures available at: (visited July 20,2020)
  9. MacKinnon CA. Defining rape internationally: A comment on Akayesu 44 Colum.J. Transnat'lL. 2005
  10. Martin R. Huecker and William Smock, Domestic Violence 1(Starpearls publishing, Treasure island Florida, 2020).
  11. Trafficking of Women available at: (last modified July 21,2020)
  12. Defining Discrimination against Women and Widows available at: (last modified December, 2014)
  13. Meaning of eve-teasing available at: (Visited on July 26,2020)
  14. Sharon L. Talboys, Manmeet Kaur, James vanderslice, Lisa H. Gren, Haimanti Bhattacharya, Stephen C. Alder What Is Eve Teasing? A Mixed Methods Study of Sexual Harassment of Young Women  SAGE Open, vol. 7 2017.
  15. Cyber Crimes Against Women available at: (visited on July 26,2020)
  16. India today, India saw almost 1500 acid attack in five year available at:
  17. India Penal Code 1860- Section 326(A) - Voluntarily causing grievous hurt by use of acid etc.
  18. Indian Penal Code 1860- Section 326(B) � Voluntarily throwing or attempting to throw acid.
  19. National crime records bureau of India
  20. Bhupinder Sharma v State of Himachal Pradesh AIR 2003 SC 4684, (2003) 8 SCC 551; Aman Kumar v State of Haryana AIR 2004 SC 1497, (2004) 4 SCC 379; State of Madhya Pradesh v Santosh Kumar (2006) 6 SCC 1, 2006 Cr LJ 3636(SC).
  21. Indian Penal code 1860 - Section 375 -A man is said to commit "rape" if he:
    1. penetrates his penis, to any extent, into the vagina, mouth, urethra or anus of a woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person; or
    2. inserts, to any extent, any object or a part of the body, not being the penis, into the vagina, the urethra or anus of a woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person; or
    3. manipulates any part of the body of a woman so as to cause penetration into the vagina, urethra, anus or any part of body of such woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person; or
    4. applies his mouth to the vagina, anus, urethra of a woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person.
  22. Custody must be lawful custody, conferred by a court based on statutory provision or otherwise: Omkar Prasad Verma v State of Madhya Pradesh AIR 2007 SC 1381, (2007) 4 SCC 323, (2007) Cr LJ 1831(SC)
  23. Refer section 21 of IPC 'Public Servant'
  24. The essentials ingredients of section 304(b) are:
    1. Death of woman should be caused by burns or bodily injury nor otherwise under normal circumstances.
    2. Death should have been occurred within 7 years of her marriage.
    3. The woman must have been subjected to cruelty or harassments by her husband or any relative of her husband.
    4. Such cruelty or harassments should be or in connection with, any demand for dowry.
      Such cruelty or harassment should have been subjected soon before her death.
  25. This definition of sexual harassment is identical to that was articulated, as one of the guidelines, by the Supreme Court in Vishaka v State of Rajasthan AIR 1997 SC 3011, (1997) 6 SCC 241. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013 provides for protection to women against sexual harassment at workplace and redressel of their complaints. It, for the purpose of the Act, defines 'sexual harassment', in similar phraseology.
  26. Any man who watches, or captures the image of a woman engaging in a private act in circumstances where she would usually have the expectation of not being observed either by the perpetrator or by any other person at the behest of the perpetrator or disseminates such image shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than one year, but which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine, and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than three years, but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.
  27. Mukesh v. State (NCT of Delhi), (2017) 6 SCC 1: (2017) 2 SCC (Cri) 673.
  28. Any man who--(i) follows a woman and contacts, attempts to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman; or (ii) monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication, commits the offence of stalking.
  29. PSA pillai, Criminal Law, 530,Lexis Nexis, 12th edition, 2014
  30. Indian Penal code 1860,Section 354( c), provided that such conduct shall not amount to stalking is the man who pursued it proves that � (i)
  31. Indian Penal Code 1860, Section 354( c), (ii)
  32. Indian Penal Code 1860, Section 354( c), (iii)
  33. Dowry Prohibition act 1961, Section 2
  34. According to the report of National Bureau of India.
  35. Dowry prohibition act 1961 available at :
  36. Dowry Prohibition act 1961 � section 3 -Penalty for giving or taking dowry
  37. Dowry prohibition Act 1961- section 4 - Penalty for demanding dowry
  38. Protection of women from Domestic Violence act 2005, section 3 (d) (i): "physical abuse" means any act or conduct which is of such a nature as to cause bodily pain, harm, or danger to life, limb, or health or impair the health or development of the aggrieved person and includes assault, criminal intimidation and criminal force;
  39. Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 � Section 3(d)(ii), "sexual abuse" includes any conduct of a sexual nature that abuses, humiliates, degrades or otherwise violates the dignity of woman
  40. Protection Of Women From Domestic Violence Act 2005 � Section 3(d)(iii) verbal and emotional abuse" includes:
    insults, ridicule, humiliation, name calling and insults or ridicule specially with regard to
    not having a child or a male child; and (b) repeated threats to cause physical pain to any person in whom the aggrieved person is interested.
  41. Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 � Section 3 � definition of domestic violence
  42. According to National Family Health Survey 2015-2016
  43. Vishaka & ors Vs State Of Rajasthan AIR 1997 SC 3011
  44. namely, physical contact and advances, a demand or request for sexual favors, making sexually colored remarks, showing pornography, any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature
  45. Shanta Kumar Vs CSIR 2017 SCC Online Del 11327
  46. The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987:Section 2(c)
  47. The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987:Section 3
  48. The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987:Section 4
  49. The Indecent Representation of Women (prohibition) act 1986 Section 3 & 4
  50. The Indecent Representation of Women (prohibition) act 1986 Section 2(c)
  51. The Indecent Representation of Women (prohibition) act 1986 Section 5
  52. Published by United Nations in 2017
  53. Flowers N. Human Rights Here and Now: Celebrating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 229 MN 1998.
  54. Southard JL. Protection of women's human rights under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women 81 Pace Int'l L. Rev.1996.
  55. Harland C. The status of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in the domestic law of state parties 187 Hum. Rts. Q.2000.
  56. McGregor G. The International Covenant on Social, Economic, and Cultural Rights: Will It Get Its Day in Court 321 Man. LJ. 2000.
Written By: Nupur Sharma and Nidhi Raj Sharma

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