Approaching the Police (Criminal Complaint)

Last updated on Jun 22, 2022

You also have an option to file a criminal complaint if you are being sexually harassed at work. A Criminal Complaint, if proved, will put your harasser in jail. Criminal law in India makes the following acts illegal, allowing you to approach the police by filing an FIR or making a private complaint to the Magistrate:

Sexual Harassment

The following actions amount to the crime of sexual harassment under criminal law1:

  • Physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual gestures; or
  • A demand or request for sexual favours; or
  • Forcibly showing pornography to the woman; or
  • Making sexually coloured remarks.

Outraging a woman’s modesty, either by actions or by words

Using force against a woman, or even threatening to use force, knowing that doing so would ‘outrage her modesty’2 . The law does not specifically define what outraging of modesty is. Courts usually determine it by looking at facts and circumstances surrounding the incident.

Forcing a woman to disrobe

Using force, or threatening to use force against a woman to undress her3 .


Voyeurism is when you gain sexual pleasure from watching others when they are naked or engaged in sexual activity. However, as per Indian law, this crime is said to be committed if a person either watches or captures the image of a woman engaging in an act that she would usually perform only under the expectation that she would not be observed by anyone (the perpetrator included) private act4 .


Stalking is continuously following a woman or contacting her where she has clearly shown she doesn’t want the attention. This can be both online or in person. Stalking can take different forms such as5:

  • harassing telephone calls,
  • computer communications,
  • letter writing, etc. or
  • any other mode of unwanted and intimidating surveillance.
  1. Section 2(n), Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.[]
  2. Section 354, The Indian Penal Code, 1860.[]
  3. Section 354B, The Indian Penal Code, 1860.[]
  4. Section 354C, The Indian Penal Code, 1860[]
  5. Section 354D, The Indian Penal Code, 1860[]

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