Harsher punishment set for sexual harassment

Kathmandu, August 14

The Muluki Criminal (Code) Act, which will commence from August 17, stipulates  harsher punishment for sexual harassment, rape and marital rape.

Section 224 of the act reads, “If a person commits an offence involving sexual harassment, s/he shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years and slapped a fine of up to Rs 30,000.”

If any person gropes any one other than his/her spouse or touches or attempts to touch his/her private part, gets or attempts to get rid of his/her undergarment or shows any sexual content through audio-visual or print media or speaks about sexual activities, expresses sexual intent through spoken words, signals, writing, sexual proposal, or behaves improperly; it shall be considered an offence involving sexual harassment. The same provision will be applicable in the case of a minor as well.

Similarly, Section 226 of the act prohibits unnatural sex without consent. The offender of unnatural sex will be sentenced to up to three years in jail along with a fine not exceeding Rs 30,000. “However, the consent given by a child shall not be deemed consent. If any one engages in an unnatural sexual relationship with a child, he/she shall be imprisoned for an additional term of up to 14 years,” the law states.

The act also considers marital rape a criminal offence. Sub-Section (4) of Section 219 provides that if a man rapes his wife when he is still in marital relationship with her, he shall be sentenced to up to five years in jail. If the husband is paying monthly alimony to his wife and partition case is sub judice in the court, or if the wife is living separately by obtaining partition from husband and if any of them has filed for divorce at the court, their marital relationship shall be deemed to be continuing.

According to the act, having sexual intercourse with any woman without her consent or any girl under 18 years of age with or without her consent by using force or showing threat shall be considered a rape, states the bill. One who commits rape shall face jail sentence ranging from seven to 20 years depending upon the age of the victim and circumstances of rape. “If a person rapes a minor under 10 years of age, he shall be sentenced to 16 to 20 years in jail. In case a person infected with HIV/AIDS or STD rapes any woman or girl with knowledge of the disease, such a person shall

be liable to up to 10 years in jail, in addition to the punishment awarded by the court as per the rape-related legal provision,” states Sub-Section (6) of Section 219 of the act.