Law against indecent representation of women on anvil

The WCD ministry is set to move a long-pending amendment to the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act (IRWA), 1986, that prohibits “indecent representation of women through advertisements or in publications, writings, paintings, figures or in any other manner”.

Bringing the Act in tune with the Information Technology Act, 2000, it expands the existing Section 4 of the Act which prohibits publication or sending by post books and pamphlets with such indecent representation. It will now include ‘any material’ that is published or cause to be distributed. This would bring into the purview of the legislation social media platforms and digital means communication such as WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, Snapchat, Instagram.

Amendment in the definition of term advertisement to include a digital form or electronic form or hoardings, or through SMS, MMS etc.

Amendment in the definition of distribution to include publication, license or uploading using computer resource, or communication device or in.

Insertion of a new definition to define the term publish.

Amendment in section 4 to include that No person shall publish or distribute or cause to be published or cause to be distributed by any means any material which contains an indecent representation of women in any form:

Penalty similar to that provided under the Information Technology Act, 2000.

Creation of a Centralised Authority under the aegis of National Commission of Women (NCW). This Authority will be headed by Member Secretary, NCW, having representatives from Advertising Standards Council of India, Press Council of India, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and one member having experience of working on women issues.

This Centralised Authority will be authorized to receive complaints or grievances regarding any programme or advertisement broadcasted or publication and investigate/ examine all matters relating to the indecent representation of women.

Reforms have been proposed keeping in mind the recent technological advancements. The need was felt to widen the scope of the law so as to cover such forms of media on one hand and to strengthen the existing safeguards to prevent indecent representation of women through any media form on the other. Hence, the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Amendment Bill, 2012 was introduced in Rajya Sabha December 2012 which referred the Bill to Department related Parliament Standing Committee for consideration.

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