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Centre to Push for Amendments to Indecent Representation of Women Act

The Centre has decided to widen the scope of the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act to bring new forms of communication.

Speaking to reporters, Women and Child Welfare Minister, Maneka Gandhi said since the enactment of the Act, technological revolution had resulted in the development of new forms of communication such as internet, multi-media messaging, cable television, over-the-top (OTT) services and applications such as Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, Chat on, Snapchat, and Instagram among others necessitating the amendments.   

The enacted the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act (IRWA), 1986 to prohibit indecent representation of women through advertisements, publications, writings, paintings, figures or in any other manner.  

Keeping in mind these technological advancements, it has been decided 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.

Based on the observations made by Parliamentary Standing Committee and recommendation made by the National Commission for Women on the basis of consultation with civil society groups and likeminded individuals, WCD has proposed amendments in IRWA keeping in mind the recent technological advancement in the field of communications such as social media platforms, over the top services etc.

The reformulated Bill proposes following amendments in the parent Act:

Amendment in definition of term advertisement to include digital form or electronic form or hoardings, or through SMS, and MMS,

Amendment in 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 shallpublish or distribute or cause to be published or cause to be distributed by any means any materialwhich contains indecent representation of women in any form:

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

The Parliamentary Committee has also recommended 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.

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