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Can a woman molest another woman?
The Bombay High Court observed that if a man even keeps his hand on the shoulder of a woman, it was for the lady to comment on the nature of the touch, whether it was friendly, brotherly, fatherly or otherwise. It was hearing a complaint over the charges of molestation of a girl student put up by her family against an owner of a popular chain of the coaching classes in the city.

In another case, the same court, while hearing a dispute between women of two families, wondered whether a woman can molest another woman; even scientifically. On going through the section 354 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the jurors noted that while the section began with the word 'whoever', it later went on to refer the accused as 'he' and victim as 'she'.

First of all the observation, that it is up to a girl or a woman to decide about intention of a male while touching her, in particular about molesting her or not, is only approximately correct though not always. I fully understand that females are regularly humiliated and exploited in Indian society and therefore, laws to save them from such social persecution and harassment should be tough. But they cannot be universal and subjectivity should be given its due place.

The courts should not fully leave the interpretation of those acts solely on females. There can be many cases whereby a female could have misinterpreted a particular behavior of a male or she might have had developed mal-intention against the accused.

The law should be fair to all and while it is true that it is the fair gender which is mostly exploited socially, the judgment in the end should rest in the hands of judges. The judgment should not be over-generalized and its implementation should never be left to law enforcement agencies alone or else there can be miscarriage of justice.

An inequality need not necessarily result in perceived or intended 'equality' by applying another inequality in the reverse direction. This is particularly true while dealing with societal issues. Harassment in the reverse direction is no cure for a particular injustice.

Any way, let's take up the core issue about whether a woman can molest another women. Now as the judges observed that it was up to woman to decide about the nature of touch and this should equally be applied, however, with certain discretion and prudence as in the case of male accused, in the case of female accused as well.

The point is that probably the High Court justices did not acknowledge that lesbianism has some presence inside India too. So, if a lesbian female try to outrage modesty of a female even by touching her in rather uncomfortable and unacceptable manner as judged by a female victim, shouldn't this be considered a crime? The answer is definite yes. The same may hold in the case of a homosexual male molesting another heterosexual or even homosexual male.

And as far as the section 354 is concerned, the law starts with 'whoever' and this should be sufficient. Why it later refers to accused as 'he' and victim as 'she' has to do with frequency and statistics of crimes. There is a huge disparity between the two accepted genders in gender-relating crimes in India. It is indeed true that very few females would like to molest other females. But if they do so, it should be considered a crime, irrespective of its frequency, minimally as serious as that by a male.

Moreover, what if the accused female is not lesbian? There are many criminally-minded, ill-willed and violent females in Indian society and they can attack and express forcefully towards other females, even sexually. No body should forget that Indian females are also responsible for ill-condition and mistreatment of their co-genders in India.

Whether it is the case of female feticide, malnutrition and illiteracy or improper education of fair sex and mistreatment over dowry and other social ills against women prevalent in Indian society, Indian females are minimally as much responsible as Indians males are. The abuses as discussed in this paragraph may be applied equally in matters involving males only as the case may be.

Therefore, females are also responsible for crimes against other females and those may include crimes with sexual intent. As males may have sexual and social motives in abusing females and dominating over them, such can also be true about females doing them on to other females or for that matter males doing so on to other males, for more and less same reasons.

The possibility of females molesting a male is very rare in India but such cases also need to be dealt with equal fairness and firmness. These facts need to be accepted by judiciary and social-activists in India. As far as scientific tenacity of a female molesting another one is concerned this is indeed possible and such cases may not always be rarest of rare cases.

The argument is to give justice to all people, irrespective of their identities, in all possible cases, under all probable circumstances. The point is that while there is a statistical pattern and huge asymmetry in fair gender's involvement in criminal cases vis-?-vis males, but still the Indian Justice Department should not be hugely biased in punishing the males and acquitting the females.

Whosoever commits crime, irrespective of gender, caste, religion, region etc should be punished. Sure, for all practical purpose rich and powerful are rarely fully punished in India. So barring those exceptions, justice should be done to one and all. Let India become fairer within middle classes and let poor too get many benefits of positive Indian state.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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