Legal Advice

My friend harassed me and I felt uncomfortable due to illegal acts

Question: He was my friend. I went to the market with him. After the market, He asked me to drop home. I also said fine. But, Then, When he was going back home. He first hugged me. Until then, It was okay, But, Then he kissed me on my forehead, I got uncomfortable and then he tried to kiss me on the lips. He unfortunately kissed me. For that instance I was not in my senses about what had just happened. Then, I slapped him and tried to push him. But! He kissed me again. I shouldn't let him inside my house. But, Now I'm feeling very dirty. I am thinking of taking legal action against him. What should I do?

Advise

Any individual who employs force against a woman with the intention or awareness that it will lead to the violation of her modesty is liable to face punishment. Your friend has committed offence of sexual harassment which is punishable under Section 354-A of the Indian Penal Code. Section 354-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) deals with the offense of sexual harassment

This section covers a wide range of acts that constitute sexual harassment, including but not limited to physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures. It also encompasses making sexually coloured remarks, forcibly showing pornography, or any other unwelcome physical, verbal, or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature.

Unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures refer to advances or actions of a sexual nature that are not desired or consented to by the recipient. These can include:

  1. Unwanted physical contact or touching of a sexual nature.
  2. Making sexual comments, jokes, or remarks that are inappropriate or offensive.
  3. Sending explicit messages or images without consent.
  4. Making suggestive gestures or movements.
  5. Displaying or sharing pornography without consent.
  6. Engaging in sexually suggestive behavior or innuendos.

In essence, any behavior or communication of a sexual nature that is not welcomed or solicited by the other person can be considered an unwelcome and explicit sexual overture. Such actions can be forms of harassment and are often considered inappropriate and offensive.

In cases related to sexual harassment under Section 354-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), consent is indeed a material factor. If the victim did not provide consent or if the behavior was unwelcome, it strengthens the case for sexual harassment. The law recognizes that consent is crucial in any interaction of a sexual nature, and absence of consent or coercion is a key element in defining acts as harassment.

Hugging itself is not inherently a sexual overture. It can be a gesture of affection, comfort, or friendship between consenting individuals. However, whether a hug constitutes a sexual overture depends on the context, intent, and consent of the parties involved.

If a hug is initiated without consent, or if it is accompanied by inappropriate touching or suggestive behavior, it shall be considered a form of sexual overture and may be perceived as unwelcome or harassing. In such cases, the nature of the hug and the intentions behind it would determine whether it crosses the line into sexual misconduct.

Shivendra Pratap Singh

Advocate

High Court Lucknow