Aug 29, 2020

With the recent rise in cases the Indian Government had constituted a Committee under Justice Verma to suggest guidelines for protection of women. But the question occurs that why is there biased nature of these laws in India towards women and the scope of their misuse. It attempts to make a strong case for more specific laws that are gender neutral and laws that protect the victims.  It is important to have laws that protect women and at the same time, not leave men open to harassment. Incidents of stalking have been on a rise in past recent years. Stalking is when someone’s presence will make you feel frightened or abused. Stalking is when someone constantly watches you or calls you it also can be when someone is harassing you by sending unwelcomed messages or emails from social media. Criminal law (Amendment act 2013) added Section 354 D of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 which deals with the offence of stalking. This was initiated post the Delhi gang-rape Case. Section 354 D states Section 354D – Stalking 

(1) Whoever 

(i) Follows a person and contacts, or attempts to contact such person to foster personal interaction repeatedly, despite a clear indication of disinterest by such person, or 

(ii) Whoever monitors the use by a person of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication, or

(iii) Watches or spies on a person

 In a manner that results in a fear of violence or serious alarm or distress in the mind of such person, commits the offence of stalking. 

Provided that such conduct shall not amount to stalking if the person who pursued it proves that—

 (i) It was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime and the person accused of stalking had been entrusted with the responsibility of prevention and detection of crime by the State; or

(ii) It was pursued under any law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any law; or

 (iii) In the particular circumstances such conduct was reasonable and justified.

 (2) Whoever commits the offence of stalking shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term 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 may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine. 

The Law only considers women to be the victim and it ignores the fact that men can be victims too. The question rose were that how effective is the law when that half of the population is not protected by it or why there is a gender specific legislation and not gender neutralised legislation for protection. The fact that there is rise in cases does not exclude the fact that the cases do include male stalking. One of the incidents that had taken place was of Vijay Nair a Mumbai based entrepreneur who was the founder of a media company was harassed by woman who was posting on his twitter handle and interrupted in any of his conversations posting sexually explicit comments. She portrayed herself to be the victim along with Nair and said that both were being stalked by one couple in Delhi. But later on, it turned out that it was herself who did all this as she had a liking for Nair. This affected Nair mentally and also made things awkward at his workplace where all her female acquaintances had received mails in this matter. Cyber stalking is no offence under IT Act and section 354D of IPC, 1860 punishes only female victims. Till date, she has not been charged for the wrong she committed. It is stated under Article 14 of the constitution that the government has a mandate to make laws equally applicable to all persons with no distinction on the basis of caste, creed, religion, age or sex. Laws are not debates where we look into the category of persons or sex or who is the victim in most of the cases. Laws are given a mandate of being applicable to every person equally in a particular society without any injustice being caused to any gender. Right to privacy is very important right for each and every individual. Gender neutrality has often been mistaken as to be against feminist principles. However, this is not true. Recognition of male victimization does not in any way supress the laws against women. India is a democratic nation where equality before law is an inherent law under the Constitution. But Section 354D of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 does not ensure safety for all. The ratio of male victims of cyber stalking to that of female victims is less but that doesn’t give us the right to victimize men. There have been several cases where men have encountered serious stalking cases by female stalkers. We all desire change, a change for good. It is not only about male and female, but also about the other gender who are already a vulnerable section of the society and so it is a requirement that the laws be gender-neutral. We assume that human bodies are either male or female and turn a blind eye towards violence suffered by the other gender community. The one question that rises is when the crimes are not gender-specific why the laws should be. Gender-neutral laws do not decrease the protection of woman but just acknowledges the existence of male victimization. The authorities should not only focus on making laws and amending them, but also ensure its proper implementation. Moreover, the laws are entrusted with a great responsibility of maintaining proper order in society. But can it be achieved if the laws itself are in question for its vagueness. Criminal can be anyone and laws, therefore, should not lack any objectivity. That is the reason laws should be gender neutralized and not gender biased.