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TN seal on life term for women’s harassment

Chennai, Oct. 31: Tamil Nadu today broke legislative ground by passing a law against eve-teasing that provides for life imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs 50,000 for offenders responsible for “harassment death of women”.

After brushing aside two Opposition members’ plea that the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women (Amendment) Bill be referred to a select committee, the ADMK government had little difficulty in passing the Bill this evening.

Tamil Nadu is perhaps the first state to come up with such stiff penalties to curb sexual harassment. If the harassment was done with the intention of causing death or such injury that was likely to cause death, the offender could now face life imprisonment and the fine.

The term will be 10 years if the “harassment was done with the knowledge that it is likely to cause death, but without any intention to cause death”, says the new law. It also provides for corresponding stringent penalties in cases of women committing suicide because of sexual harassment.

On the last day of the short monsoon session, the Assembly passed as many as 20 Bills, including the one prohibiting the practice of burying alive of a person in any place of worship or its precincts. A bizarre temple ritual in August in Peraiyur village in Madurai, where 105 children were buried alive and retrieved immediately, sparked an uproar, forcing the government to move the legislation.

Another important Bill that was rushed through in the face of stiff opposition from the the Congress, the PMK and the CPI amended the Code of Criminal Procedure to enable magistrates to extend the period of remand of an accused from 15 to 30 days.

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