To curb crimes against women Amend Section 509
It is most distressing and concerning to note that crimes against women are not mitigating rather they are multiplying manifold as time is passing by. This portends very dangerous consequences for the future of our nation because no nation can have a bright future where women are not safe. This should serve as a wake up call for our law-makers and government. They should wake up and deliberate on devising such laws which are able to rein in the “animal instincts” of those men who enjoy eve-teasing and stalking women whenever they see a suitable opportunity to do so. More disconcertingly, it is noticed that most of such men rarely ever get any punishment and this encourages them further to stoop more low and denigrate the dignity of women in one way or the other. No wonder, crimes against women are multiplying at a dizzying pace.
Considering the present deplorable condition of women in India where rape and other offences are inflicted on her by men by citing specious arguments like she was wearing few clothes, she was venturing all alone etc, it is imperative that women-related offences should be suitably amended so that no men can take women for granted. Moreover, we also cannot be oblivious of the indisputable fact that women-related crimes like eve-teasing and stalking are increasing at an alarming pace and are showing no signs of abating soon. In this context, it is pertinent to mention that it is, therefore, in the fitness of things that Andhra Pradesh is contemplating to amend Section 509 of the IPC so that the life of stalkers themselves is made worse and not the other way around that women have to suffer all types of eve-teasing and stalking alone without getting any help of any kind from anyone.
It has been debated ad infinitum as to whether strict laws would help curb crimes against women. It is strongly felt that irrespective of whether stringent punishment would deter potential offenders or not, one thing is certain: if there are stringent laws in place, the guilty would not enjoy drinks in disco pubs after committing women-related crimes. It is high time those committing any kind of crime against women never escaped unpunished under any circumstances. Against this backdrop, Andhra Pradesh which has the dubious distinction of worst record of crimes against women has taken the wise step of coming forward with more stringent anti-stalking laws. It therefore must be commended for gearing itself up to start treating abusive SMSes and gestures as serious offences. Having said this, I must also add that there is now a dire need for making stalking itself a non-bailable offence and it should not be restricted to just incidents of attack by stalkers on women only.
It is most regrettable and shameful that even as crimes against women are crossing all barriers and becoming more like Frankenstein’s monster, still there is not much of seriousness displayed by those in power to deal with them effectively and sternly, nor are historic steps initiated like amending Section 509 of the IPC to ensure that stalkers are not able to trouble any women any longer. Be that as it may, one has to also confess that until the tragic case of Priyadarshini Mattoo sent shockwaves across the nation very few of us were actually aware of the serious consequences of stalking. Most of us even now club stalking with eve-teasing which, however, is not the case actually as it seems to be. Even now it is not being realised that stalking, which actually implies the “wilful, malicious and repeated following or harassing of another person that threatens his or her safety”, is actually an obsessive behaviour. It can not only claim the life of the person who is being stalked like Priyadarshini Mattoo but also can and does in fact, leave behind many other psychological infirmities in the victim with which he/she finds it difficult to cope up with.
Therefore, it merits no reiteration that a humane approach towards victims and a very strict approach towards stalkers after catching them red handed can go a long way in tackling this alarming menace effectively and immediately.
By Sanjeev Sirohi