Eve teasing likely to be non-bailable offence in Maharashtra

Concerned over the spate of eve teasing cases in the state, the Maharashtra government is considering a proposal to make it a non-bailable offence.

Minister for Women and Child Welfare Varsha Gaikwad said she will discuss the issue with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and set up a committee comprising social workers and women legislators to examine a draft bill called the Maharashtra Prohibition of Eve-teasing and Harassment of Women Act, prepared by the Help Mumbai Foundation.

A delegation from the NGO met Gaikwad and submitted a memorandum along with the proposed bill, demanding that it be tabled in the legislature so that a law with sufficient teeth is enacted to protect women from eve teasing and sexual harassment.

According to the NGO, 80 per cent of women do not register a complaint due to family pressure and fear of being targetted or stigmatised.

The Help Mumbai Foundation's director Sana Sayed said Section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with an intent to outrage her modesty) Section 506 (criminal intimidation) and Section 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code, which are presently bailable offences, should be cognisable and non-bailable ones.

Offenders should be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend upto three years and a fine of not less than Rs 20,000.

Death or suicide of a woman due to harassment should be penalised with imprisonment of a term which may extend to ten years and a fine of not less than Rs 50,000, she said.

Recently, Santosh Vichivara (19) was killed by five eve teasers in neighbouring Dombivli for protesting against eve-teasing. He was assaulted and stabbed outside the gate his housing complex.

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