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WHAT IS VOYEURISM?

INTRODUCTION

Beware and be alert! You are being secretly watched!

Most people have an expectation of privacy in places like our homes, hotel rooms, bathrooms, trial rooms, etc. But what if we tell you, that this might not always be the case? Voyeurism is the newest crime on the list and can be the most destructive of them all.

MEANING
Voyeurism is often defined as the viewing, for sexual gratification, of people engaged in intimate behaviors such as undressing, sexual activity or activities of private nature, without the consent of the people being viewed. A ‘voyeur’ is the person who commits the offence of Voyeurism.

With the advancement in technology in recent years, ‘recording’ of people engaged in intimate acts which is popularly known as ‘Video Voyeurism’ has also been included in the definition of Voyeurism. With new methods of recording and easily available miniature cameras, the offence of Voyeurism is increasingly becoming a menace. Cases of Voyeurism in a variety of places ranging from hotel rooms, hostels, trial rooms, etc to showers and bathrooms have come to light in recent years. Very often footages obtained by such methods are posted on the internet and are made viral. Once the data is made viral, it is very difficult and almost impossible to prevent the spread of it.

LEGAL PROVSIONS
Most countries have enacted laws for the punishment of such acts of Voyeurism. Same is the case in India. By the 2013 Amendment of the Criminal Law in India, Section 354 C (Voyeurism) was inserted in the Indian Penal Code. The Section is as follows:

“Any man who watches, or captures the image of a woman engaging in a private act in circumstances where she would usually have the expectation of not being observed either by the perpetrator or by any other person at the behest of the perpetrator or disseminates such image shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than one year, but 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 shall not be less than three years, but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Explanations

  1. For the purpose of this section, “private act” includes an act of watching carried out in a place which, in the circumstances, would reasonably be expected to provide privacy and where the victim’s genitals, posterior or breasts are exposed or covered only in underwear; or the victim is using a lavatory; or the victim is doing a sexual act that is not of a kind ordinarily done in public.
  2. Where the victim consents to the capture of the images or any act, but not to their dissemination to third persons and where such image or act is disseminated, such dissemination shall be considered an offence under this section.”

It is clear that most laws made around the world on Voyeurism provide the legal remedy for the commission of the offence of Voyeurism. However, there is an absence of preventive legislations on this topic. Without preventive laws, the offence of Voyeurism will continue to occur and punishments may be meted out only to those offenders who are caught in commission of the act while the others get away scot free.

Voyeurism is considered an act of sexual abuse and a direct violation of the right to privacy which is now a fundamental right under the Constitution of India.

CONCLUSION
Our NGO is working towards the passing of an Act with preventive measures to ensure the privacy of the people in the Indian society. For this we have drafted a Bill which can be easily downloaded on our website. We also work on other measures to prevent and curb the menace of Voyeurism.

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