Now, social media to come under scrutiny to ensure prohibition of indecent representation of women

The offence will attract a penalty similar to that provided under the Information Technology Act, 2000.

Now, social media to come under scrutiny to ensure prohibition of indecent representation of women
Representational Image (File photo: Pixabay)

NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Women and Child Development has proposed amendments to Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act (IRWA), 1986. The amendment proposes to expand the meaning of the word 'advertisement' in the bill to include its various 'digital and electronic forms or SMS, MMS'. 

The IRWA has been enacted to prohibit indecent representation of women through advertisements, publications, writings, paintings, figures or in any other manner. Since the enactment of the Act, technological revolution has resulted in the development of new forms of communication, such as internet, multi-media messaging, cable television, over-the-top (OTT) services and applications e.g. Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, Chat On, Snapchat, Instagram etc.

Keeping in mind these technological advancements, the WCD has decided to widen the scope of the law so as to cover such forms of media on one hand and to strengthen the existing safeguards to prevent indecent representation of women through any media form on the other. Hence, the IRWA Bill, 2012 was introduced in Rajya Sabha December, 2012 which referred the Bill to Department related Parliament Standing Committee for consideration.

The reformulated Bill proposes:

- The amendment proposes changes in the definition of term advertisement to include the digital form or electronic form or hoardings, or through SMS, MMS etc
- It also proposes a change in the definition of distribution to include publication, license or uploading using computer resource, or communication device or in
- Insertion of a new definition to define the term publish
- The amendment includes that no person shall publish or distribute or cause to be published or cause to be distributed by any means any material which contains an indecent representation of women in any form.
- The offence will attract a penalty similar to that provided under the Information Technology Act, 2000
- It proposes to create a Centralised Authority under the aegis of National Commission of Women (NCW) which will be headed by Member Secretary, NCW, having representatives from Advertising Standards Council of India, Press Council of India, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and one member having experience of working on women issues.

The centralised authority will be authorised to receive complaints or grievances regarding any programme or advertisement broadcasted or publication and investigate all matters relating to the indecent representation of women.

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