Is Using Ladies Washroom By Men A Criminal Offence in India

Intention is the main motive behind carrying out any offence either criminal or civil. Intentions play an important role to prove if someone has committed a crime. If a man without any intention uses the women’s washroom by mistake or without any bad intention, then he may be left with the warning not to repeat the same thing.

Generally, yes, it is illegal to use the lady’s washroom by the men in the country. However, the law will vary by jurisdiction. For the most part, nothing happens. The person is simply told to leave the wrong restroom. Until and unless if any men break the law, they can be arrested by the police. If the person refuses to leave the bathroom and is doing something wrong which is against the modesty of the women, then the police can be called to arrest the person and to send on trial for the crime committed by him is proven.

As in India many laws have been made in order to protect the dignity of the women anyone found out violating these rules can be jailed for years intentionally using the ladies washroom is considered as criminal trespass under the section 441 of Indian penal code which states that ‘Whoever enters into or upon property in the possession of another with intent to commit an offence or to intimidate, insult or annoy any person in possession of such property, or having lawfully entered into or upon such property, unlawfully remains there with intent thereby to intimidate, insult or annoy any such person, or with intent to commit an offence, is said to commit criminal trespass ‘ and outraging the modesty of a woman under Section 354 (IPC) which states that Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty. Whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any woman, intending to outrage or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby outrage her modesty, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine The intention of the men is also considered in this matter. Another section dealing with the topic is that of section 354C of IPC which states that any man who watches, or captures the image of a woman engaging in a private act in circumstances where she would usually have the expectation of not being observed either or by any other person at the behest of the perpetrator or disseminates such image shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than one year, but which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine and if he is caught for the second time subsequently, he should be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than three years, but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine. Just entering women toilet by mistake is not a crime.  It’s only a crime if the person refuses to leave the premises when asked to leave and commits some offence against the woman. But there are places like on a train or plane, it’s first come, first served as there are no male and female separate restrooms so both gender uses same washroom one by one.

In one case law of California, USA In re S.M.S., 196 N.C. App. 170 (2009) a boy had entered the girl’s restroom intentionally ignoring the sign which mentioned on that locker room the court confirming the trespass stated that since there was a sign indicating that the locker room was a girls locker room it should have indicated enough for the offender who was a boy to not to enter the same premises and as ignoring the sign the boy had entered the girl’s locker room intentionally he was held liable for trespass.

In other American famous case Law named com vs white 538 A.2d 887 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1988) of a criminal trespass case where the court had stated that a conviction for criminal trespass after the male entered the women’s restroom. The court ruled that the restroom was the area or room that was defined to be only used by women and not anyone of that section of the building that is specifically reserved for women usage. It has been said that once there as in that a specific restroom or washroom is for the use of women only so no men can enter that particular restroom reserved for ladies unless and until the one going to use other than women is a transgender depending what they want to use.

All the analyses should be done and considered keeping in mind the circumstances and intention. If the male cleaner has been given the duty of cleaning the women’s empty washroom or vice versa that is a woman cleaner washes men washroom they cannot be booked for any illegal activity or arrested or taken to court. Similarly, when a female or male child accompanies parents in opposite sex washroom they cannot be taken to court. When in any public or private place separate washroom facilities have been provided to both men and women with an indication which one is for men and which one is for women it will be unlawful for one person to use the opposite sex washroom. But if a man goes into a ladies’ restroom, for no good reason and intentionally to cause any offence against the women, it is that a charge of trespass, or perhaps breaking or entering, and must be punished for the same in order to protect the dignity and respect and honor of women.

This article is authored by Siddhartha Gupta, student of LLB at Mumbai University.

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