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This article highlights the problem of the vulgar display of women in India, discussing its root causes and possible solutions. By increasing awareness and encouraging dialogue, we can strive for a society that is more inclusive and respectful to women.

What Is the Meaning of Objectification of Women

Objectification means treating someone as an object, focusing only on their looks and desirability instead of recognising their worth as individuals. It reduces the identity of women to mere objects, ignoring their thoughts, feelings, and dreams.

Objectification of women is a serious problem that affects both individuals and society. This kind of objectification promotes sexism, inequality, and violence against women. Recognizing and addressing this issue is important to create a fair and respectful society.

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The terms “vulgar display” and “objectification” refer to different aspects related to the portrayal and treatment of women in India. While there can be some overlap between the two, they have distinct meanings. The vulgar display makes this objectification even stronger by emphasizing their physical attributes over their humanity.

Laws Regarding Vulgar Display and Objectification in India

There are several laws that aim to protect the dignity and rights of women by preventing their objectification or exploitation through vulgar depictions.

1. Laws under IPC, 1860

To prevent the objectification and exploitation of women in India, sections 292, 293 and 294 are provided under the Indian Penal Code.

Further, the sections mentioned below address the issue of objectification of women:

Section 354A

Section 354A of the IPC deals with the sexual harassment of women, including gestures, acts, or remarks that have a sexual undertone and are intended to or are likely to insult the modesty of a woman. This section aims to protect individuals, particularly women, from unwarranted advances, comments, or actions of a sexual nature that infringe upon their dignity and personal boundaries. Perpetrators can face legal consequences, including imprisonment and/or a fine, as provided by law

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Section 354B

Section 354B of the IPC deals with the offence of assault or use of criminal force with the intent to disrobe a woman. The section states that any person who assaults or uses criminal force on a woman with the intention of disrobing her or compelling her to be naked in any public place shall be punished with imprisonment ranging from three to seven years, along with a possible fine. This section aims to protect the modesty, dignity, and physical integrity of women by criminalizing acts that involve forcibly stripping or attempting to strip a woman against her will in a public place.

Section 354C

Section 354C of the IPC addresses the offence of voyeurism. This section states that any person who watches, captures, or records the private act of a woman without her consent, with the intention to derive sexual pleasure or gratification, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term ranging from one to three years and may also be liable to pay a fine. The section aims to protect the privacy and dignity of women by criminalizing acts that involve the invasion of their privacy through non-consensual recording or capturing of their intimate moments for personal gratification.

Section 354D

Section 354D of the IPC addresses the offence of stalking. This section states that any person who follows, contacts, or monitors the activities of a woman repeatedly, thereby causing fear or distress to her, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term of up to three years for the first offence and up to five years for subsequent offences, along with a possible fine. The section aims to protect women from persistent unwanted attention, harassment, and invasion of privacy by making stalking a punishable offence. It recognizes the psychological impact of such behaviour on women and seeks to provide them with legal recourse against stalkers.

Related: What Are the Laws on Cyberstalking in India?

2. The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986

The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act of 1986 prohibits the indecent portrayal or distribution of women. Sections 3, 4, and 6 are related to the prohibition of advertisements containing such representations. Violators can face imprisonment for up to two years for the first offence and up to five years for subsequent offences. The Act aims to safeguard the dignity and respect of women.

3. The Information Technology Act, 2000

Section 67 of the Information Technology Act states that anyone who publishes or transmits obscene material (which is lascivious or appealing to sexual desire) in electronic form will be punished. On the first conviction, the punishment can be imprisonment for up to three years and a fine of up to five lakh rupees. For subsequent convictions, the imprisonment term can extend up to five years, and the fine can be up to ten lakh rupees.

4. Cable Television Networks (Registration) Act, 1995, including Advertisement Code of Cable Television Network Rules, 1994

Section 7(2)(vi) of the Cable Television Networks Rules (1994) states that advertisements should not depict women in a derogatory manner and should not project a negative or inferior image of women. The section emphasizes that women should not be portrayed in a way that highlights passive or submissive qualities, encouraging them to play subordinate or secondary roles in the family or society. It requires cable operators to ensure that the portrayal of women in the programs aired on their cable service is tasteful, aesthetic, and adheres to established standards of good taste and decency.

Landmark Indian Judgments Regarding Vulgar Display and Objectification of Women

There have been several landmark judgments in India regarding the vulgar display and objectification of women. Here are a few notable ones:

1. Maneka Gandhi vs Union of India (1978)

Facts of the case: The case was filed by Maneka Gandhi (an Indian citizen) after her passport was impounded by the government without providing any reasons or an opportunity to be heard.

Judgement: The case’s central issue was the interpretation of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, which protects the Fundamental Right to life and personal liberty. The judgment expanded the scope of Article 21, recognising that it covers not only the right to life and personal liberty but also includes other Fundamental Rights that are essential for a meaningful life. Supreme Court ruled that Article 21 not only talks about physical existence but also includes the right to live with dignity.

Must Read: Maneka Gandhi vs Union of India Explained in Simple Words

2. Chanda Rajkumari & Anr., vs Commissioner of Police (1997)

Facts: It was a Public Interest Litigation filed by prominent women organisations, including A.P. Mahila Samakhya, AIMSS, POW, and Maharaja Sir Kishen Pershad Foundation. The aim was to denounce and oppose a proposed beauty competition, ‘Miss Andhra Personality,’ by the Prerana Women Organization. The respondents in the case were the government of Andhra Pradesh, the Police Commissioner, and the said Prerana Women Organization.

Judgment: Andhra Pradesh High Court said that no man or woman should be represented in a disgraceful & vulgar manner. The court emphasised that indecent representation of women in beauty contests infringes upon Fundamental Rights enshrined in Articles 14, 21, and 51A of the Constitution of India.

3. Ranjit D. Udeshi vs State of Maharashtra (1964)

Facts: Ranjit D Udeshi, a bookstore owner, faced charges of possessing and selling obscene material, namely the book “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” by DH Lawrence, under section 292 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Lower courts had already convicted him when the case was appealed to the Supreme Court, raising various grounds, including a Fundamental Rights issue.

The test was laid down, in this case, called the ‘Hicklin Test of Obscenity‘ imported from British case law [Regina v Hicklin (1868)]. In that case, Chief Justice Cockburn laid down that the test of obscenity which was “whether the tendency of the matter charged as obscenity is to deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influence, and into whose hands a publication of this sort might fall.”

Judgment: The court declared Lady Chatterley’s Lover to be obscene.

4. Aveek Sarkar vs State of West Bengal (2014)

Facts: A complaint by a practising lawyer in Kolkata was filed against the German magazine “STERN,” Indian magazine “Sports World,” and the newspaper “Anandabazar Patrika” for publishing a photograph of Boris Becker and his fiancée posing nude. The complainant alleged that the publication violated section 292 of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with obscenity. The photograph was taken as a protest against “apartheid” and to convey a message of love champions over hatred.

The court has discarded the Hicklin test of obscenity and adopted the “community standard test,” which considers contemporary societal norms and prevailing community standards to assess obscenity.

Factors Contributing to the Development of Objectification

There are certainly social, economic, religious, or other factors that objectify and display women in vulgar and indecent manner:

1. Media Influence and Advertising

The media, including advertisements, movies, and music videos, often portray women as sexual objects, emphasizing their physical appearance and objectifying them for entertainment or product promotion.

2. Cultural and Traditional Factors

Societies with deeply ingrained patriarchal norms tend to view women as subordinate to men, objectifying them and reducing their worth to their physical attributes.

3. Unrealistic Beauty Standards

Society’s obsession with unrealistic beauty ideals places immense pressure on individuals to conform to narrow standards, leading to the objectification of those who do not fit these ideals.

4. Public Spaces and Harassment

Freedom to choose clothes according to choice often leads to criticism and eve-teasing or harassment of women. People objectify them and pass inappropriate comments. This leads to women feeling unsafe and unhappy in public places.

5. Socio-Economic Implications

Deep-rooted gender stereotypes that associate women primarily with their physical attractiveness reinforce the objectification of women and undermine their individuality, abilities, and contributions.

Efforts to Diminish the Concept of Vulgar Display

To eradicate the concept of objectification, efforts must be made through education, ensuring safety measures and women’s empowerment to ensure a better environment for women in society. Some of these efforts can be:

1. Role of Education

Strengthen the education system by providing education regarding gender sensitisation. Although these are provided in schools now as per the need for this education in the current scenario, this education should be compulsory education that will empower young minds and nourish them with the essence of equality and dignity.

2. Changing Mindset and Environment

By challenging gender stereotypes and encouraging female leadership, the mindset of orthodox people could be changed. It could also provide a supportive space to women in their workplace, school, and other institutions.

3. Engaging Men as Allies

Education on consent and respect is equally important as education on gender sensitisation by promoting positive masculinity. This involves educating them about consent, respect, and fostering positive masculinity. Teaching men about these values is as important as educating them about being sensitive to gender issues. By engaging men in this way, we can create a more inclusive and equal society.

4. Promoting Gender Equality

Women should be provided equal opportunity in every field of workspace, employment, and equal opportunity for political participation. Women’s leadership leads society toward real feminism and the end of patriarchal societal norms.

5. Addressing Gender Stereotypes and Misconceptions

We can combat objectification and vulgar display by challenging stereotypes and misconceptions through various means. This includes using media to promote positive portrayals of women, encouraging women’s leadership and empowerment, and fostering a culture of positive feminism.

6. Encouraging Reporting and Support System

We can promote reporting and support for victims by enhancing helpline services and establishing safe support mechanisms. This can be achieved by implementing comprehensive plans for urban and rural safety measures. By doing so, we aim to create a robust system that encourages victims to come forward, seek help, and receive the support they need in a secure and protected environment.

7. Government and Policy Intervention

Government and policy intervention can play a vital role in addressing the issue. This includes introducing robust legislation or reforming existing laws to provide stronger protection for women. Collaboration between the government, NGOs, and civil society is essential to ensure transparency and safety in the implementation of these policies. By working together, we can create a more secure and supportive environment for women, fostering a society that upholds their rights and dignity.

8. Hiding Information of Victims

Several victims do not file their complaints because of their fear of societal humiliation and taunts. Respecting and safeguarding the privacy of victims is a little underrated effort that can have a big impact on female victims. By hiding the victim’s information, we can ensure its safety along with less societal pressure and humiliation.


The vulgar display of women and objectification in India is a deep-rooted issue that demands immediate attention. The objectification of women, perpetuated by media, cultural norms, and traditional beliefs, has far-reaching consequences on society, impeding gender equality and reinforcing harmful stereotypes.

We can create a society that respects and values women’s rights by implementing a multi-faceted approach involving education, legal reforms, and community engagement.

Individuals, communities, and the government need to work together to eradicate this problem and foster a safe and inclusive environment for all. Society needs to be educated and made aware of women’s issues, and women should be encouraged to report any acts of harassment or abuse. With sustained efforts, we can create a society where women feel safe and empowered.

Read Next: Obscenity Laws and India

Bhanu Choudhary
WritingLaw » Law Articles » Indecent Representation of Women in India – Laws and Cases Law Study Material
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