Building the foundation for equality
As we celebrated women’s day, did you also feel the presence of that familiar elephant in the room? Amidst the din of celebration and wishes, there was that noise in the corner of our minds that went- equality, equality, equality. The further we go in our fight for equality, the more it widens our eyes to the fact that we do not have a ground under our feet to leap and strike. From fighting to survive as an infant, to fighting to claim a position in the boardroom, women often do all of this feeling unsafe- like they’re always being chased. With increasing cases of harassment over the phone, it almost feels like women are now carrying the stalkers with them all the time.
Here’s what the picture looks like:
- One out of five Indian women get a call or SMS with sexually inappropriate content (Truecaller)
- Eight out of 10 women in India receive harassment and nuisance calls (Truecaller)
- The most affected cities in India are Chennai, New Delhi, Pune, and Kolkata. (YourStory)
- A sprawling racket in UP uncovered that the recharge shops sell women’s numbers based on their appearance to men who then use the numbers to harass them. (The Hindustan Times)
Women experience a range of emotions as a result of harassment over the phone, like, irritation, anger, threatened, worry, fear, and even embarrassment. And some ways in which women deal with this harassment are: asking a friend/family member to answer the phone, changing their number, venting on social media, ignoring, blocking the number, installing call blocking apps, and filing complaints with the police. In fact, with the rise in police complaints, it only goes on to show the rise in awareness level among women and their willingness to raise voice against their harassers.
Here are some ways in which harassment can be dealt with:
An immediate call to the authorities.
- 181 (Abhayam Helpline): a female counselor will take down the details of the harasser. These will be forwarded to the police station who will take actions of tracing and filing a complaint against him. This helpline is solely intended for women.
- 1091: a national women’s helpline, that helps police take actions against the harasser.
- 100: a general number that can be contacted by anyone to report a harasser.
Harassment is legally defined as repeated unwanted contact. To begin with, it’s important to understand the factors that are required for an unwanted phone call to become a harassing one:
- The caller’s intention to harass or threaten
- Not disclosing their identity despite the continuous conversation
- Abusing, making derogatory remarks or indecent/obscene proposals, comments, requests, or suggestions.
- Remaining silent, breathing heavily or playing intimidating music with the intention of harassing.
What to do next:
- Save the harassment data: take screenshots/pictures of the messages, get your cellphone records and highlight the concerned data.
- Take a backup of your phone to be doubly sure of having the data safe with you.
- Compile all the data with clear segregations, like some can be screenshots of the messages, then call logs, third can be all the actions taken by you against it.
You can now visit the police station to file a complaint. It would hence be a good idea to know a little bit about the laws around the issue:
- Section 354A of Indian Penal Code: any person requesting sexual favours or making sexually coloured remarks shall be guilty for the offence of sexual harassment punishable with imprisonment up to three years and/or fine.
- Section 354D of Indian Penal Code: if a person constantly contacts a woman for initiating personal interaction in spite of her disinterest, he will be punished with an imprisonment of three years and a fine.
- Section 506 of Indian Penal Code: any person committing the offence of criminal intimidation shall be punished with imprisonment of up to seven years and/or fine.
- Section 507 of Indian Penal Code: if any person tries to threaten or intimidate a woman through anonymous communications, he will be punished with an imprisonment of two years in addition to the punishment provided under Section 506 of IPC.
- Section 509 of Indian Penal Code: if a person insults your modesty over a phone call then he will be liable to be punished with imprisonment up to one year and fine
Harassment via phone can happen through any place where you share your number at. It could be at the entrance of a building, at a shop, a mall, even while subscribing for a service/product. At Doosra, we aim to shield the users at this front, by providing a virtual number that auto-blocks all calls and stores SMS-es without the users ever having to see them. While this is a small step towards curbing harassment, we believe that the sole responsibility to eliminate the issue entirely lies with the perpetrators.
We want to hear from you- your story on how you have faced and dealt with harassment. Let’s talk in the comments section below.