Mar 9, 2022

Exploring the Underlying Themes of Violence Against Women in Fairytales


Sleeping Beauty

In Sleeping Beauty, the cursed princess falls asleep for a hundred years. Then, a prince wakes her up by kissing her. This fact situation brings up the much-discussed question of consent.

Consent means voluntary, clear and unmistakable agreement expressed by a person to take part in a specific act. As you can imagine, a sleeping princess cannot give consent for a kiss.

If these facts were brought before a court under Indian law today, this could be considered as sexual harassment.

According to Section 354A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, sexual harassment occurs when a man commits any of the following acts, without a woman’s consent: 

  • physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and direct sexual overtures;  
  • a demand or request for sexual favours; 
  • showing pornography.

The punishment for these acts is imprisonment for up to three years and/or a fine. 

So, in the understanding of the law, the prince in this story would not be rewarded with a happily-ever-after, but rather penalised with a strict punishment.


We all know the story of Rapunzel, where an enchantress shuts the long-haired Rapunzel in a tower with no means of escape. 


If these facts were brought before a court under Indian law today, the enchantress could be charged with the crime of wrongful confinement.

According to Section 340 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, wrongful confinement occurs when someone wrongfully restrains any person in a way that prevents them from moving beyond certain limits.

The punishment for wrongfully confining a person is imprisonment for up to one year and/or a fine of up to Rupees one thousand. If the wrongful confinement continues for three days or more, the punishment is imprisonment for up to two years and/or a fine. If the wrongful confinement continues for ten days or more, the punishment is imprisonment for up to three years and a fine.

So, in the understanding of the law, the enchantress in this story would be penalised for wrongfully confining Rapunzel.

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