You all might have heard this quote “there is a thin line between sex appeal and vulgarity”. The Indecent Representation (prohibition) of women act 1986 doesn't let this thin line between sex appeal and obscenity fade away and ensures that decency (as given in the very name of this act) of women is maintained when she gets represented in all kinds and forms of media. In India, many laws have come to exist to protect women’s fundamental rights and dignity and this Act is one such minor act, made to protect women from predators of all sorts of the media industries.
•What is this act?
# Central government by notification in the official gazette enacted this act in the 31st year of Independence of the Republic of India.
# It was enforced on 2nd October 1987 and it contains 10 Sections.
# Certain other Sections which are related to this act are Sections 292, 293 and 294 of the Indian penal code,1860 which deal with the crime of obscenity.
# This law was made to effectively ban all sorts of representations of women that according to the morals of our society are unethical.
# This Act bans any advertisement, painting, publication etc which hurts the right to dignity of a woman.
# for example: If a nude picture of a woman without any historical or religious sentiments attached to it is put in the public domain, then this episode of immorality toward the woman will be punishable under the Indecent representation (prohibition) of women Act 1986.
# There are certain definitions of the terms advertisement, distribution, indecent representation of women, label, package and prescribed given in Section 2 of this Act and they are:
1. Advertisement: This definition is the same as the one given in the Advertisement Act 1954 and that is When any information about a commodity or service is being conveyed with the help of a notice, circular, label, wrapper or any other document then it is called advertisement according to this act. These advertisements can be both oral as well as written and can be by any means of generating or transmitting light, sound or smoke. For example, in The Advertisement for ENO (an antacid) which we all see on TV whereby a distressed middle-aged man complains about acidity and when he intakes ENO, he gets immediate relief.
According to this Act, distribution can be done in 2 ways and which are by samples either free/ paid.
3. Indecent representation of women:
This Act describes any manner used to portray a woman or any part of her body in a way which is against her dignity or is degrading to her and also is against the morals of society, as an indecent representation of women.
It is a written or marked matter in any form I.e printed or stamped which is there on the package.
It is defined by this Act as a form of container, be it a box, carton or tin etc.
It means something which follows the rules provided by this Act.
# Section 3:
This Section involves the banning of all advertisements which hurt public morals and are derogatory to women. If any advertisement poses a threat to women’s dignity then the publisher of that advertisement will be held responsible for the violation of the guidelines provided by this Act.
# Section 4:
According to this Section, any form of distribution done of a photograph, figure, pamphlet etc. containing an immoral representation of women is banned under this Act. This Section also provides the conditions in which this act will not be applicable, those are:
a) If the representation of women is done in any way for the public good.
b) If any figure, book, paper, temple etc contains indecent representation of women but has religious importance.
c) If these kinds of representations of women are sculpted or are present in the monuments then they will be protected by the Archaeological sites and remains act 1958 and these cases of representation will not be dealt with by the Indecent representation (prohibition) of women Act 1986.
d) Part 2 of the Cinematography Act 1952 will be applicable instead of the Indecent Representation of Women Act in case unethical representation of women is done in films.
# Section 9:
According to this Section, no case can be filed against the Central Government / State Government or any officer of the Central Government / State Government if they have done or intend to do a representation of women with good intentions.
# The punishment for the offences done by an offender by violating the guidelines given in Sections 3 and 4 of this Act, is given in Section 6. They are:
~ In case a person has committed this offence for the first time then he/she will be punished with:
a) Imprisonment up to 2 years.
b) Fine up to rs2,000.
~ In case the offender who has been punished once already for this crime violates the guidelines provided by this Act again then he/she will be punished with :
a) Imprisonment for a minimum period of 6 months and it can be extended up to 5 years.
b) Fine of the minimum amount of rs. 10,000 and it can be extended up to rs 1, 00,000.
India is also known as ‘Bharat Mata’ which means Mother India hence it goes without saying that India assumes it to be its primary duty to protect the dignity of women, if and when needed. There are many Acts which are authorized by our government to punish those who offend the rights of women and the Indecent Representation of Women Act 1986 is one such Act which strives to provide women dignity in the Media industry and ensures that women don't receive any derogatory treatment.
Written By :- Prerna Jaiswal
( B.A.LLB 2nd Year
IMS LAW COLLEGE , NOIDA
SECTOR 62 )