The term ‘Harassment’ is a form of discrimination that includes but is not limited to any unwanted physical or verbal behavior towards an individual. It covers a wide range of behaviors of offensive natures. Commonly understood as behavior that demeans, humiliates, or embarrasses a person, it is characteristically identified by its unlikelihood in terms of social and moral reasonableness. These unwanted and unwelcome behavior affects the physical and mental well-being of a person and they don’t even know how to deal with mental harassment.
In the legal sense, these are behaviors that appear to be disturbing, upsetting, or threatening, and when they become repetitive, can also be construed as bullying in common parlances. Most times, people don’t know how to deal with mental harassment or where to complain about mental harassment. In this article, we will discuss in detail all the various aspects related to mental harassment.
What is Mental Harassment?
Mental harassment is defined as harmful or hostile behavior directed either directly or indirectly at an individual by one or more people. This kind of behavior discredits a person or bars them from their personal life or employment and occurs frequently over a lengthy period. It alludes to a string of events that, if taken separately could seem unimportant, however, when occurred occasionally it makes the victim vulnerable and unimportant. Mental harassment laws in India are not so stringent which results in the loss of lives of many people.
Forms of Mental Harassment
While filing a harassment case, the complainant should know what type of harassment he or she is undergoing to take appropriate steps against it or at least know how to file mental harassment case in India. Harassment covers several unwanted behaviors that cause emotional or mental distress to someone. Below are given major types of harassment people go through in their day-to-day lives:
Physical or Sexual
Any form of unwanted physical conduct of sexual or asexual nature towards a person, to infringe the personal space of an individual or violate their dignity creating a degrading and hostile environment construe as physical or sexual harassment. It can happen anywhere, be it your workplace, public place, or even at your home. Some instances of physical or sexual harassment are touching your colleagues inappropriately, hugging or kissing forcefully, inappropriately touching oneself, and any other form of unwanted physical conduct, etc.
Harassment can be done without having any physical touch or contact with a person. Discriminatory harassment occurs when people face discrimination in a public place or workplace due to their race, religion, caste, gender, or some other factors.
Emotional or psychological
Usually all forms of violence or harassment have an emotional or psychological impact on an individual, that further hurts the integrity and dignity of the person to a large extent. Like ignorance and neglect from a person or disrespectful behavior from loved ones are some of the reasons that cause emotional or psychological harassment.
cyberbullying or online
Most popular kind of harassment in today’s internet era is online bullying. Usage of obscene or threatening language through an electronic communication device to threaten or humiliate a person on social media or any other online platform constitutes online harassment. Know More about Cyberbullying: Facts and laws
Domestic Mental Harassment
Mental Harassment in marriage is the same as mental provocation overall and many couples are not aware of how to deal with mental harassment. Notwithstanding, when we allude to mental badgering in marriage, it is the mental provocation brought about by the husband or wife or in-laws. Mental harassment law in India is different regulations that deal with mental harassment in a marriage. Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, and the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 regulate the mental harassment laws in India by assisting women who are battling for their privileges and backing the female organization to guide a lively, tranquil, and equivalent life inside the general public.
Section 498A of the IPC states that whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects the woman to domestic mental harassment for any reason shall be rebuffed with detainment for a term, which might reach out to three years along with fine.
Mental Harassment in the workplace
Workplace harassment is one of the most common forms of mental harassment. Studies suggest that as many as 50% of women experience workplace harassment during their employment, but only a few women report it. Workplace harassment can be classified as below:
● Harassment based on the grounds of age.
● Harassment on the grounds of disability.
● Defamation- to demean and libel is to damage the reputation or image of an individual.
● Discrimination on the grounds of caste.
● Harassment on the grounds of Sexual Orientation and Marital Status.
● Harassment on the grounds of Race, Sex, Religion, and National Origin.
Mental Harrassment Laws in India
Human rights are rights connected to an individual's life, liberty, equality, and dignity that are protected by the Constitution of India or included in several international covenants that are upheld by Indian courts, according to the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. The human right to live in dignity is one of those rights, and harassment of any kind is a violation of that right.
Here are a few Indian laws that address different types of harassment:
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013
This was the first piece of law to be passed to safeguard women from sexual harassment at work. The phrase "sexual harassment" is defined in the law under section 2 and is given a broad definition, indicating that it encompasses any one or more of the unwanted acts or behaviors (whether committed directly or impliedly) listed below:
● advances made physically; or
● a request or demand for sexual favors; or
● making remarks with a sexual undertone; or
● exhibiting porn; or
● any additional inappropriate sexual behavior, whether it be physical, verbal, or nonverbal;
The law requires that specific procedures be followed in the workplace to prevent sexual harassment, as well as the establishment of channels for complaints to be resolved.
Indian Penal Code, 1860
The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) does not define "Mental Harassment," however, harassment can be understood to include cruelty or torture. The following sections are pertinent to regulating mental harassment law in India:
Section 354: Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty.
Anyone who assaults or uses unlawful force on a woman with the intent to offend or knowing that doing so is likely to offend her modesty will be punished with either a short or long term in jail.
Section 354A: Sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment is a crime that is committed when someone makes sexually explicit comments toward the other person. Any person who violates the provisions of the section must be punished and punishment for mental harassment cases in India is imprisonment for a term that may not exceed three years, with a fine, or both.
Section509: Word, motion, or act expected to affront the humility of a lady.
Whoever, proposing to affront the unobtrusiveness of any lady, expresses any word, makes any sound or signal, or displays any item, meaning that such word or sound will be heard, or that such motion or a protest will be seen, by such lady, or barges in on the security of such lady, will be rebuffed with basic detainment for a term which might reach out to one year, or with fine, or with both. Interface with a specialist attorney for your legitimate issue
Information Technology Act, 2000
This regulation expects to give legitimate acknowledgment to online exchanges and manages different demonstrations and offenses which might be committed on the web:
Section 67: Punishment for distributing or sending profane material in electronic structure.
Whoever distributes or communicates or causes to be distributed or sent in the electronic structure, any material which is obscene or requests to the scurrilous interest shall be punished as per the mental harassment law in India.
Section 67A: Punishment for distributing or sending of material containing physically unequivocal demonstration, and so on, in electronic structure.
Whoever distributes or communicates or causes to be distributed or sent in the electronic structure any material which contains physically express demonstration.
How to take legal action against mental harassment?
In India, you can take legal action against mental harassment under various laws and provisions. Here are some steps you may consider:
- Identify the applicable laws: Determine which laws and provisions cover mental harassment in India, such as the Indian Penal Code, Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, and the Information Technology Act.
- Gather evidence: Collect relevant evidence, such as emails, messages, recordings, or photographs, to support your claim of mental harassment.
- Consult a lawyer: Seek advice from a specialized criminal lawyer who can guide you on the specific legal provisions, your rights, and the steps to take.
- Cooperate with authorities: Provide the necessary information, evidence, and testimony to support your case during any investigation. Legal proceedings: If the authorities find sufficient evidence, legal proceedings may commence. Your lawyer will represent you in court if required.
Is harassment a crime?
Yes, any kind of harassment is a crime as per various sections of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
How can I prove mental harassment?
Mental harassment can be proved through medical reports of the victim and evidence of communications like emails or WhatsApp chats between the victim and the accused.
Where to complaint against mental harassment?
Domestic harassment complaints can be sent filed at the police station and workplace complaints can be filed in the labor courts.