Thiruvananthapuram: Against the backdrop RPT backdrop of the nationwide concern over crime against women, Congress-led UDF government in Kerala on Thursday introduced a comprehensive legislation, enlarging the definition of harassment and providing for harsher punishment for perpetrators.
The Kerala Protection of Privacy and Dignity of Woman Bill-2013 seeks to bring into its ambit harassment in various public places, including educational institutions and public vehicles and use of electronic gadgets like mobile phones and cameras as tools of harassment.
The bill, piloted by Home Minister Thiruvanchur Radhakrishnan, provides for life sentence in cases of death of a woman due to harassment and in other cases jail terms up to seven years and imposition of fine.
The bill defines `public places` as public vehicles like buses and taxis, educational institutions, cinema halls and cyber space and harassment taking place in these spheres would be punishable.
Those in charge of these places would have to act promptly against crimes taking in the respective spheres and if they failed to do that would invite punishment up to three months.
The bill entrusts heads of educational institutions the responsibility of restricting use of instruments which could be used to intrude into the privacy of girl students. Short Message Service, phone calls, videography, voice recording, photography, collection or circulation of images and voice clips through Internet or mobile phone would come under the purview of this clause.
Harassment also includes showing gestures, actions either by words or writing, soliciting sexual favour for women and showing pornographic material or literature.
Passing comments on the physical appearance of a woman with a view to insulting her and misusing one`s position or authority to sexually exploit woman and blackmailing would also be offendable.
The legislation also has some do`s and don`ts for media as they have been prohibited from publishing photographs, names or identifying particulars of a woman against whom an offence had been committed.