If a man texts me on my phone and says “If you don’t have sex with me, then you will get hurt”, then what can I do?

If someone makes a sexual threat to you then you can file a police complaint.  He will be punished under the law with jail time of minimum one year and maximum five years along with a fine.(( Section 354, Indian Penal Code, 1860.)) Afterwards, to stop him from bothering you, you have the option to block his number on your phone. To explore more on blocking on phones, read our explainer on Blocking users on Phone.

Since invasion of privacy is considered an offence under the law, in what situations can I expect privacy?

Your expectation of privacy can extend to all situations in your private space. If a man intrudes into your private space, then you can file a complaint as this is a crime under the law. Some of these situations are(( Section 354C, Explanation I, Indian Penal Code, 1860; Section 354C, Explanation II, Indian Penal Code, 1860.)):

  • When you have created a private space reasonably (such as locking a room) etc.
  • When you are in a situation or a place where you can reasonably expect that no one else is present, such as a changing room in a store, or you have allowed someone else you trust to also share your private space.
  • Any behavior or activities which you would consider are private in nature. For example, while you are sleeping in your own room or while you are changing your clothes in your room.
  • Where you are doing any sexual activities by yourself or with a person.

Situations where your private parts are exposed. For example, a man is looking at you while you are taking a bath or using the toilet.

I sent a private sexual video only to my boyfriend, but he sent it to his friends, who then distributed it to their friends. What can I do?

If your boyfriend, without your consent, sent the videos to his friends, then it is a crime under the law. Distribution of your video to multiple people without your consent, is a crime and your boyfriend can be punished for a jail time of minimum 1 year and maximum of 3 years with a fine. If his friends had forwarded the video knowing that you had not given your consent, then even they will be punished under the law. You can file a complaint to make sure that the video does not get circulated.

If a person is accused of stalking, will he get bail?

Yes, if the person is accused of stalking for the first time, he can get bail as stalking is a bailable offence. It is important to note that only men are punished under the law for stalking. If a man is being convicted by the court for repeating the crime of stalking, then stalking is a non-bailable crime. However, you can get bail for non-bailable crimes in some situations.(( The First Schedule, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.)) To explore more on non-bailable crimes, read our explainer on ‘Bail for Non-Bailable Crimes’.

What can I do if the police refuse to file my complaint against a sexual crime?

You can take the following steps if the police officer refuses to file your FIR:

  • If a Police Officer does not accept your complaint then you can write down your complaint and send it to the Superintendent of Police. If the Superintendent feels that there is merit in your case, then they can appoint Police personnel to start an investigation for your complaint.
  • Take the help of a lawyer while going to the police station. This is useful as lawyers will be able to advocate on your behalf and the possibility of harassment you may face from police officers will be less.
  • Go to another police station nearby to file the FIR. This is known as Zero FIR. You can file an FIR at any police station and the police officers have to mandatorily record the information given, and then transfer it to the police station in whose area/jurisdiction the offence took place.
  • Request someone else to file the FIR on your behalf. You can give this person details of the violence/harassment that you have faced so they can file the FIR on your behalf.

Approach the District/Judicial Magistrate directly to file a ‘private complaint’, but only after going to the police. To understand more on this information, consult a lawyer in the District Court.

Can I file a complaint against a family member for rape or sexual violence?

Yes, if a family member has raped or sexually assaulted you, you can file an FIR with the police. If a relative, guardian, teacher, or any person in a position of trust or authority, rapes a woman it is known as aggravated rape, under the law. You can use section 376 (2) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 while filing an FIR with the police. The punishment for this crime is jail time upto  10 years and a fine.