Harassment

JK Govt to amend laws to punish public servants guilty of sexual harassment with non-bailable jail term: Report

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Srinagar: The government of Jammu and Kashmir has decided to amend provisions of Ranbir Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code, Evidence Act and the Prevention of Corruption Act to hold punishable sexually suggestive conduct, touching a woman in exchange of some benefit and unwanted sexual activity by a public servant in the region, Indian Express reported.

A spokesperson of the state’s Law Department, quoted in the IE report, said the existing legislative provisions have been found to be deficient to check exploitation of women by persons in authority.

According to the draft amendment, any persons in a position of authority or in a fiduciary relationship, or a public servant who abuses such position or fiduciary relationship to employ physical or non-physical form of coercion to extort, request or demand sexual favours from any woman in exchange of benefits that such person is empowered to grant or withhold shall be guilty of the offence of “sextortion’’, the report stated.

ALSO READ: EXPLAINED: What is sexual harassment and how to identify it

Defining sexual favour as “any kind of unwanted sexual activity ranging from sexually suggestive conduct, sexually explicit actions such as touching, exposure of private body parts to sexual intercourse, including exposure over the electronic mode of communication’’, the draft Bill makes it clear that “it shall be no defence that the sexual benefit was derived with the consent of the victim’’, as per the IE report.

According to the report, it further pointed out that any person committing such offence shall be punished with a fine and rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than three years and that may extend to five years. The draft bill describes the offence as “non-bailable’’ and “not compoundable’’.

Another draft amendment Bill proposes to bring request for sexual favour by public servants within the ambit of term “misconduct’’ under Section 5 of Prevention of Corruption Act, 2006, IE reported.

ALSO READ: As #MeToo storm hits Kashmir, a woman journalist details her tryst with the men-dominated fraternity

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