Author: Soumya Sakshi Mishra, Law Student at Christ University, Bengaluru.
We can see so many songs, videos and films that represent women in an immoral and indecent manner, leaving a wrong impact on the viewer about a woman, as well as, it tends to impede the process of gender equality pushing the whole womankind lower. It is observed that the media, censorship board and other bodies have violated the all norms relating to, decency, obscenity and morality. Henceforth, this paper revolves around the indecent and immoral representation of women in the country. It also critically examines the Indecent Representation of Women Act 1986 and also the amendment bill of Indecent Representation of Women Bill 2012. Moreover, it suggests strategies to make the laws related to it stricter as to stop the portrayal of gender as a product.
Though we have a well enacted statute named ‘Indecent representation of women’ we still get to hear such songs which goes on like ‘Jahan se honachahiyewahi se haitu thick, “Sujiaankhemeri fir bhidekholadkiyokokaise ye nihare” Are these song not representing a women in an indecent manner? These songs comprises such lyrics which recount women body parts in a hyped sexual sense. It not only objectifies women but also, verbally harasses the whole womankind.Albeit, so many provision in this act yet we get to hear songs like “volume 2” and “main hubalatkari” Is this even justified?
The question that arises is that why do we get to hear such song which depicts this. The answer to that is, the word indecent is not defined properly and indirect indecent representation is not included.
Ambiguous definition of Indecency
Under the 2012 Bill, the definition under Section 2(c) has been altered in the following words:
“Indecent representation” means (i) publication or distribution in any manner, of any material depicting women as a sexual object or which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interests; or (ii) depiction, publication or distribution in any manner, of the figure of a woman, her form or body or any part thereof in such a way as to have the effect of being indecent or derogatory to or denigrating women or which is likely to deprave, corrupt or injure the public morality or morals”.
After the amendment also there has been so many ambiguities in the applicability of the act and open interpretation of the definition of ‘indecent representation’.
The term decency is itself patriarchal. If we go by the dictionary it means “behavior that conforms to the accepted standards of morality or respectability.”
The irony lies here, the patriarchal society conforms and accepts whether the act is decent or indecent and therefore leaving all other indecent representation apart, this patriarchal society only targeted a picture of a tennis player who just wanted to show to the world that skin tone does not matter. The name of the case was Aveek Sarkar Vs. State of West Bengal in which an image of Tennis player named Boris Becker was posing nude body with his dark-skinned fiancée Barbara Feltus and this picture was considered as being violative of the provisions of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986.However, the learned judges delivered a laudable verdict, keeping aside the biasness and patriarchal view “The message, the photograph wants to convey is that the colour of skin matters little and love champions over colour. The picture promotes love affair, leading to a marriage, between a white-skinned man and a black-skinned woman. We should, therefore, appreciate the photograph and the article in the light of the message it wants to convey, that is to eradicate the evil of racism and apartheid in the society and to promote love and marriage between a white-skinned man and a black-skinned woman. When viewed in that angle, we are not prepared to say that the picture or the article which was reproduced by Sports World and the AnandabazarPatrika be said to be objectionable so as to initiate proceedings under Section 292 IPC or under Section 4 of the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986.
ARE THESE SONGS AND VIDEOS PROVIDING ANY PUBLIC GOOD OR ENRICHING OUR LITERATURE?
Section 4 (a) states that “indecent represent representation does not apply to any book, pamphlet, paper, slide, film, writing, drawing, painting, photograph, representation or figure the publication of which is proved to be justified as justified as being for the public good on the ground that such book, pamphlet, paper, slide , film, writing, drawing, painting, photography, representation or figure is in the interest of science, literature, art, or learning , art, or learning or other objects of general concern; or which is kept or used bona fide for religious purpose”.
Thus, the creator of these sorts of songs tend take the defense of the exception provided in section 4(a) of the act, stating that it is in the interest of literature. However, ironically these songs are not at all enriching our literature, rather it is impacting the new generation in a negative way. ‘Studies find that in average, teenager listen to approximately 40 hours of music in a week and such song objectifies the women and have objectionable lyrics that are related to violence, sex and drugs especially in rap which can easily mind wash the moulding minds of the children and adolescents. There are certain indirect gesture which is indecent and it can be easily understood bya reasonable person that what it signifies but there is no provision for indirect indecency. Moreover, talking about camera angles. It is seen that the camera angles are capturing the female body in an inappropriate manner which is seasoned with vulgar songs, depicting the society that staring women and touching them without consent should be the utmost desirable behaviour among men. They use wide shot and mid shots and also bird angle in a manner which objectifies women. If we cite examples from Bollywood then there are a plethora of it. Are not these shots depicting the women in an indecent way? It is washing away and wiping off the morals ethics and values of the moulding minds and can teach the adolescents that respecting women is not what is desirable. Henceforth, these songs and videos are the most improvised way to represent women in an indecent way.
NEED FOR AMENDMENT
Though the amendment bill has included many required provisions but we still find several indirect representation of women in several songs, videos and posters.
Therefore we require more amendments in the act
- The representation should include both direct and indirect. Sometimes the creators make indirect representation and seeks defence that they have not violated any provisions of the act. Therefore, the term ‘indirect indecent representation’ must be included with elaborated definition.
- The definition of indecent should be made in broader sense so that, the definition should not be restricted in narrow sense.
- The punishments provided in the act must be made stricter and some exemplary damages should be shown to the society so that the offenders shall fear with the punishments granted to the person convicted under this act.
- Stricter guidelines should be made for the censorship board to adhere with.
- There should be a judicial committee that checks the activities of censorship board or there should be a retired judge in the censorship board.
- The number of female and transgender members should be increased in the censorship board.
The implementation is not exhaustive and limited to the statute, it is open for interpretation by the court because of our active judiciary. Henceforth, there are several judgment by the court which widens the ambit of the statute.
- Chandrakant Kalyandas Kakodar v. State of Maharashtra and Orsin this case it was held that“there was no fixed rules to determine obscenity.” The concept of obscenity would differ from country to country depending on the standards of morals of contemporary society.
- In Maneka Gandhi v Union of India, it was held that“right to life is not merely confined to physical existence but also includes within its ambit the right to live with human dignity”. Thus, dignity of a women should not be hampered by any indecent representation.
The amendment bill of the Act was introduced in 2012 but till now it has not been passed. The bill includes some of the provision which should be present in the act, however, it is not passed yet and also it lacks few. The rules and norms should be made in order to protect the dignity and pride of the women. There should not be publication, distribution of anything in a virtual or physical manner which tends to make a woman uncomfortable to live in the society. Already, India is a patriarchal society where women faces hurdles in their day to day life therefore, the laws of our country should be framed in a manner that should not restrict women by any means and also the law should be made in a manner that provides for a comfortable and healthy environment for women, where no indecent representation of women exists.
 Indecent Representation of women( prohibition) Act 1986.
Aveek Sarkar Vs. State of West Bengal,2014 4 SCC 257 para 7
 Section 4(a) THE INDECENT REPRESENTATION OF WOMEN (PROHIBITION) ACT, 1986
 The Effect of violent music content on teens retrieved from http://rense.com/general59/teens.htm, 8:45 am ,
ChandrakantKalyandasKakodar v. State of Maharashtra and Ors
Maneka Gandhi v Union of India