In criminal and civil law, assault is an attempt to initiate harmful or offensive contact with a person, or a threat to do so.

Physical assault takes place when an individual or a group provokes and attacks a person physically, with or without the use of a weapon, or threatens to hurt that person. Work-related aggression happens through the use of force or threats to a non-consenting victim on the work premises or in the context of the victim’s work.

Section 351 in The Indian Penal Code defines assault –

351. Assault. —Whoever makes any gesture, or any preparation intending or knowing it to be likely that such gesture or prepa­ration will cause any person present to apprehend that he who makes that gesture or preparation is about to use criminal force to that person, is said to commit an assault. 

Types of Assault

Felonious / aggravated assault is distinguished from simple assault in that a weapon is used or the assault occurs during the commission of another crime. Some states also require that the victim suffer an actual injury as a result of the assault, such as a heart attack or an injury while fleeing from the threat of violence. 

Sexual assault involves the threat of sexual violence against the victim. In other words, the victim is left in fear of an imminent rape, molestation, sodomy, or other sex crime. 

Remember, assault differs from battery in that the actual offensive touching or striking is not an element, only the threat. That is why assault is often lumped together with battery: if one is threatened with the offensive touching then subsequently receives the offensive touching, both crimes have occurred.

Of course, the penalties for assault vary as widely as the different types of assault. They can range from fines and probation to prison and the loss of the right to own a gun as a convicted felon. On the other hand, civil assault can lead to monetary payouts equivalent to the level of harm suffered by the victim, and could include medical bills, therapy, and other losses. 

It is distinct from battery, which refers to the actual achievement of such contact.

Assault usually accompanies battery if the assailant both threatens to make unwanted contact and then carries through with this threat. See common assault. The elements of battery are

(1) a volitional act

(2) done for the purpose of causing a harmful or offensive contact with another person or under circumstances that make such contact substantially certain to occur and

(3) which causes such contact.

Thus throwing a rock at someone for the purpose of hitting him is a battery if the rock in fact strikes the person, and is an assault if the rock misses.

Sexual harassment is also a type of physical assault.

Sexual harassment is nothing less than the showcasing of male dominance. Given an opportunity, such men (those committing sexual harassment) would try fulfilling their desire. However, it also not true that all cases of sexual harassment are such- where the accused is guilty of conceiving the intention of a sexual intercourse. But it also depends on each individual case and circumstances, because it may well be the case that the woman may also be at fault.
The question is not whether women have the right to bodily integrity, as this right is already adumbrated under Article.21 of the Constitution of India. Article.21, which guarantees the right to life and liberty to men and women both alike- but whether it is really imperative to take a decisive step towards extirpating this evil and make the contemporary and future society a safe haven for women.

Attempt to rape

In cases where an indecent assault is made upon the person of a woman, but where rape is not committed- the culprit is charged with Section.354 of IPC, because unless the Court is satisfied that there was determination in the accused to gratify his passion at any cost, and inspite of all resistance, such person is not charged with rape.

Section.354 of the IPC prescribes punishment for anyone who assaults or uses criminal force to any woman with an intent to outrage her modesty.
An indecent assault upon a woman is punishable under this section. Rape is punished under Section.376; but the offence under this Section is of less gravity than rape. And also because a person who is guilty of attempting rape cannot be allowed to escape with the lesser penalty of this section.
An indecent assault, i.e., an assault which right minded persons would consider as indecent- accordingly any evidence explaining the defendants conduct, or whether any admission by him or otherwise is admissible to establish whether he intended to commit an indecent assault, as is stated under Section.21 sub clause (2) of the Evidence Act, which reads:

Section.21 (2): An admission may be proved by or on behalf of the person making it, when it consists of statements of the existence of any state of mind or body, relevant or in issue, made at or about the time when such state of mind or body existed, and is accompanied by conduct rendering its falsehood improbable.

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