What is Stalking?

Stalking is defined as repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact or any other behaviour targeted at a specific person that could cause the person to feel fear. Similar to crimes related to sexual violence, stalking is about power and control.

Stalking comes in many forms, such as:

  • Making threats to someone, or that person’s family or friends
  • Non-consensual communication like repeated phone calls, emails, text messages and unwanted gifts
  • Repeated inappropriate touch or physical or visual closeness like waiting for someone to arrive at certain locations, following them, or watching them from a distance
  • Any other behaviour to contact, harass, track or threaten someone.

Using Technology To Stalk

One of the many ways perpetrators can stalk victims is through technology. Some ways technology is used to stalk include:

  • Persistently sending unwanted texts, images videos through the internet, like spamming someone’s email inbox or social media platform.
  • Posting or threatening to post personal information about someone on public internet forums.
  • Installing video cameras that give the stalker access to someone’s personal life
  • Using GPS or other tracking software to monitor someone without their knowledge or consent.
  • Using someone’s computer or spyware to track their computer activity.
  • Cyberstalking or using the internet to stalk or harass a person. This includes sending emails or instant messages or posting messages to a website or discussion group.

Dealing With Stalking And Harassment 

Women who are being stalked can complain to the National Commission for Women (NCW), and they will take the issue to the police. Any woman, anywhere in India, can file this complaint.

In serious cases, the Commission will form an inquiry committee which makes a spot inquiry, examines witnesses, and collects evidence. The Commission also holds the power to summon the accused, the witnesses and police records.

In Delhi, a woman can phone 1096 if she is being stalked.

The NCW may be reached by calling 0111-23219750 for women throughout the rest of India.

What is Eve Teasing?

Harassment in public places by known or unknown persons of women is called eve-teasing.

Eve teasing means annoying or irritating women and is an act of harassing women playfully or maliciously, either physically or psychologically. It includes making fun of, irritating, provoking, annoying or embarrassing through comments, remarks, gestures, jokes, songs, physical contact or taunts.

Eve-teasing is generally used in South Asia and is a term most popular in India, Nepal and Pakistan. The threat of eve-teasing is enough to hinder the participation of women in public as this activity is generally carried out in public places in broad daylight. It can also cause feelings of anxiety in teenagers and young women.   

Contrary to common understanding, eve-teasing and stalking are by no means casual crimes, and women need not suffer in silence when they face them. Eve-teasing and stalking are activities that facilitate rape culture. One must know the laws dealing with eve teasing and report the crime to the authorities.

Laws Dealing With Eve Teasing 

Indian Penal Code carries legal provisions pertaining to eve-teasing under several sections. It has been classified as cognizable (the police can arrest the accused without a warrant) and non-compoundable (cannot be settled out of court) offences.

Sections dealing with eve-teasing are:

  • Section 294: This section penalizes acts of obscenity in public places. These acts include singing songs, reciting poems, stating words or making gestures to a woman that are obscene in nature.

Punishment: Three months of imprisonment or fine or both.

  • Section 354: This section prescribes punishment for acts of the accused that cross verbal harassment and convert to molestation and physical abuse. It applies to acts that insult or outrage a woman's modesty and threaten to cause her prosocial harm.

Punishment: The offence is non-bailable, and the accused receives one to five years of imprisonment and a fine.

  • Section 354 A: The section protects women from eve-teasing that has underlying sexual connotations. This includes:
    • Anyone who shows pornography to a woman against her will
    • Makes sexually coloured remarks
    • Demands or requests sexual favours

Punishment: Maximum three years jail or fine or both

  • Section 354 B: if a man uses force against a woman intending to disrobe her or compel her to be naked, he is liable for punishment.

Punishment: 3 to 7 years of imprisonment and fine; non-bailable offence

  • Section 354 C: Any man who watches or captures the image of a woman or is engaged in either behaviour or acts of undressing, sexual activity, or any acts that are considered private, then he is held liable under this act.

Punishment:

First Conviction: up to 1- 3 years jail + fine, bailable offence

Subsequent conviction: up to 3- 7 years jail + fine, non-bailable offence

  • Section 354 D: Acts of eve-teasing that include pursuing and stalking a woman against her wishes come under this section. It includes physical and online/cyberstalking to forge a personal relationship with her despite her disinterest.

Punishment:

First Conviction: up to 3 years jail + fine, bailable offence

Subsequent conviction: up to 5 years jail + fine, non-bailable offence

How To File A Complaint?

The victim should immediately visit the nearest police station to register an FIR.

Once the FIR is numbered, she should take the registration number or a receipt for the same with her.

It is vital to remember that the police station cannot refuse to register an FIR. The provision of zero FIR requires that any FIR be filed in any police station and late can be transferred to the appropriate police station.