Jammu & Kashmir legislation to stop ‘sextortion’ of women

Governor Satya Pal Malik’s administration in Jammu & Kashmir on Friday approved an amendment to the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC), to insert a section to provide for the offence of “sextortion.” Under Section 354E of the RPC, the new law explicitly bans sexual exploitation of women by those in positions of authority, having a fiduciary relationship, or a public servant, reads the order issued by Governor Malik-headed State Administration Council (SAC). J&K has become the first State in the country to bring a law to prevent people in power from exploiting subordinates sexually. Mr. Malik on Friday approved the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2018, and the Jammu and Kashmir Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018, to incorporate the new Section. Terming the offence as “Sextortion”, the amendments will “bring sextortion at par with similar offences prescribed under the Ranbir Penal Code and amendment is being made in the Prevention of Corruption Act to amend the definition of misconduct and to provide that demand for sexual favours would also constitute misconduct within the meaning of Section 5.” ‘Existing laws deficient’ An official said the J&K government decided to reinforce the legal framework to curb instances of women being victimised by the persons in authority or in fiduciary relationships. “The existing legislative provisions have been found deficient to curb this menace. Therefore, a need was felt to introduce such provisions in the relevant laws that would prevent occurrence of such instances and deter the persons in authority to abuse their authority, influence or position to obtain sexual favours from the weaker sex,” the State’s Law Department had said in its proposal. The Governor’s administration on November 28 started a process for the Draft Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2018, to include the acts of demanding and requesting sexual favours by public servants within the ambit of the term ‘Misconduct’ under Section 5 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 2006. It sought suggestions from the civil society to incorporate amendments. Besides, the State Administrative Council (SAC) also approved introduction of the use of video conferencing “as an admissible method for presence of accused in criminal trials.” “This will ensure speedy trial and remand. It also reduces the requirement of security for taking accused from jail to courts,” said the SAC spokesman.

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