Should the government or the society be given the power to control what a couple or a group of people are doing, when nobody is being exploited or abused? Fem shared this link where 31 young people were detained and fined for indecent behavior.
The police justified their action on ‘moral grounds’. “Ten of the 31 offenders were females. They were dancing vulgarly in the converted discotheque, which is considered a public place,” said zonal deputy commissioner of police Mahesh Patil, who led the raiding party.
Shrikant Bhat, a crime counsel, said the “police had no business punishing youngsters who were within the confines of four walls. What the police did in fact amounted to violation of their privacy“. [Link]
In another case a few years ago one of our Moral Senas’ activists entered a rented accommodation and beat up the adults, including women, who were celebrating Valentine’s Day inside the premises. There was no follow up news, but the fear of being labelled sluts could have prevented the victims from complaining.
In Managalore, on 25th Jan 2009, Muthalik’s men behaved obscenely to protest against young women having a good time. What do you think prevented the girls from taking action? Fear of being labelled what?
In 2007, similar groups had alleged that Richard Gere kissing Shilpa Shetty was obscene behavior. A court in Rajasthan also wanted the actress to appear in court over charges that she did not resist Gere’s advances. (And what do we call a woman like that?)
A two-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice of India,Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan said that such complaints were filed for “cheap publicity” and “have brought a bad name to the country”. [Link]
In Sept 2008, a newly married couple was picked up by ASI Vidhyadhar Singh of Dwarka police station, he claimed to have found them “sitting in an objectionable position near a Metro pillar and kissing each other due to which passersby were feeling bad.” [Link]
In this case, the court stayed further proceedings against them on primarily two grounds:
(a) They were married
(b) There were no witnesses to testify that they were feeling bad. [[Link]
But what if they were not married? How would it make any difference to the passersby who were supposed to be feeling bad?
What makes our otherwise rather disappointing police swing into action when it comes to ‘obscene behavior’?
On April 21, 2005, the victim and her friend were seated near a parapet wall on Marine Drive. The victim was taken to the police chowky, where Constable Sunil More threatened to book them for indecent acts and demanded Rs 5,000. While the boy was sent off to arrange the money, Sunil More allegedly raped the girl. (Read more)
‘Have you ever wondered why policemen hardly ever catch older couples holding hands, or ones who look ostensibly married? The truth is that these youngsters are nabbed because they are soft targets, since they don’t want to risk a trip to the police station at any cost. The worst punishment to a young adult, far worse than facing jail, is having their parents know what they were up to.’ [Link.]
What makes it easier for the police is that the legal definition of ‘obscene behavior’ is not well defined.
What do you think should be seen, legally, as obscene behavior?
1.) Actions that make other people feel bad (or hurt their sentiments)?
Do keep in mind, there are many who would see young couples holding hands, women wearing tight jeans, women being alone with men they are not married to, women dancing anywhere except religious functions and weddings, women drinking, couples kissing, and women not objecting to being kissed etc as ‘obscene’ or vulgar.
And how would we know if their sentiments were really hurt or if they had some other motives?
2.) Any behavior that clearly harms other people, for example, children and minors, by exposing them to something that is considered age inappropriate.