Language Crimes against Women

Shubham AP Mohapatra
NMIMS Kirit P Mehta School of Law

Volume III, Issue III, 2020

George Orwell, highlighting the power that words hold within them, wrote in his famous 1984 that language has the power to corrupt. The practical illustration of the same too can be seen in India with the infamous ‘Bois Locker Room’ incident. This ordeal placed in front of the nation, the question of ascertaining criminal liability to the misuse of language. Answering the same, this paper aims to highlight crimes that are perpetrated essentially through the use of language and terms them as Language Crimes.

This paper presents the status quo and looks into the wide array of provisions that exist pertaining to the issue which are spread across several statutes. Further the practical application of the provisions too has been portrayed through taking a dive into the Indian courtrooms and highlighting their stand on the same. It also showcases the irony with the protectors of justice rendering injustice by examining the situation of the courtrooms dealing with cases of sexual offences and outlines the gross abuse of language by defence lawyers in their interaction with the prosecutrix during cross examination and by the judges, through the judgements they deliver. The author recognises the need to maintain a balance free speech and ascertaining criminality to language, so as to not make the liability of the accused to be infinite and presents the mechanism that exists to achieve the same. Further, the paper puts forward several suggestions to counter this social evil, including certain amendments to the current legislation.

Keywords: Language Crimes, Verbal Abuse, Sexual Harassment, Eve teasing, Victim blaming


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