Poor enforcement of laws and low rate of conviction in cases of eve-teasing and sexual harassment are the two main reasons behind spurt in such cases. Most recently, an assistant sub-inspector of the Punjab Police was gunned down in clod blood in Amritsar, when he intervened to save the honour of his daughter from a stalker.
Investigation done by Hindustan Times revealed that during the last five years, 51 cases relating to eve teasing in the city were taken to court and only five were convicted, while 30 others were acquitted due to lack of evidence.
Most of the eve-teasers are booked either under section 294 (obscene acts and songs) or 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of the Indian Penal Code, and both of sections are cognizable and bailable, a police officer told Hindustan Times.
"Stringent laws will definitely create fear among the eve teasers. Such crimes should be made non-bailable," he said.
The Maharashtra government is considering to make eve-teasing a non-bailable offence. A police officer on the condition of anonymity said that 80% cases of eve-teasing go unreported as women don't want to get themselves embroiled in a controversy. Even in cases which come to the police, victims generally shy away from pursuing the case.
"We do launch special drives against eve-teasing from time to time. Humiliating the accused publicly is the only short-term remedy as the victim is seldom ready to carry forward the case and make rounds of the court," he added.
Ritu (27), a working woman, said that a law with sufficient teeth should be enacted to protect women from eve-teasing and sexual harassment.
"Section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with an intent to outrage her modesty) Section 506 (criminal intimidation) and Section 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code, which are presently bailable offences, should be cognizable and non-bailable," she said.
Japneet Kaur (21), a student of mass communication, said that offenders should be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend up to three years and a fine of not less than Rs. 20,000. "In case of death or suicide by a woman due to harassment, the accused should be jailed for not less than ten years and made to pay a fine of Rs. 50,000 or more," she suggested. Minakshi Dureja (45), a housewife, said "Daughters often complain of teasing and stalking. In most cases, cops do not entertain complaints of girls."