What is sexual harassment?
Abuse of position of power
Some other criminal offenses
Commonplace myths about acts of sexual harassment and violence

What is sexual harassment?

acts or behavior with sexual undertones (whether directly or by implication) including

    • physical contact and advances

    • a demand or request for sexual favors

    • making sexually colored remarks

    • showing pornography

    • any other unwelcome physical, verbal, or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature

These are criminal offenses (link).

Power of position may be abused by perpetrators of sexual harassment through

    • implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment

    • implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment

    • creating an offensive work-environment

These are criminal offenses (link).

Some other criminal offenses

Apart from the grave criminal offense of Rape, following acts are also punishable under law:

    • Voyeurism: watching or capturing an image of a woman engaged in a private act (link)

    • Stalking: following a woman, contacting (or attempting to contact) a woman despite a clear indication of disinterest by the woman; monitoring the use of the internet by a woman (link)

    • Exhibitionism: Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman (IPC Section 509 - link)


Apart from heavy penal consequences, these acts may lead to academic termination, or suspension from service.


  • IIT Kanpur has put in place a gender neutral policy on Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal of Sexual Harassment of Students (link)


Commonplace myths about acts of sexual harassment and violence

    • Certain dresses provoke sexual harassment and violence

    • Any act that happens with a woman at a place where she has gone willingly, must be consensual

    • Any act under the influence of alcohol or drugs does not amount to sexual harassment or violence

    • It is sexual harassment only if it is committed by stranger(s).

    • If the act is not reported immediately, then it did not happen or was consensual.

References:(1) Handbook on Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace(2015) by Ministry of Women and Child Development, GOI; (2) Web-pages of Women's Cells at JNU, IITB, IISER Pune, U Oregon, Georgia Tech.