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Indecent assault was an offence (strictly two offences) in England and Wales under sections 14(1) and 15(1) the Sexual Offences Act 1956. It was abolished and replaced by the similar offence of sexual assault under section 3 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
It was defined as any unwanted sexual behaviour or touching which is forced upon people against their will.
The meaning of indecency depends upon prevailing views of what is unacceptable behaviour (Law reform Commission 1987). This might include behaviour such as forcing someone to watch pornography or masturbation. This is also related to physical attack cases, including but not explicit to unwanted oral sex.
The mens rea and actus reus of indecent assault are essentially as for common law assault and/or battery. However, there is the additional element of 'indecent circumstances'. 'Indecent circumstances' are currently identified by the following:
- An offence is indecent if a 'reasonable person' would believe it indecent, whatever the belief of the accused.
- An offence is not indecent if a 'reasonable person' would believe it not indecent, whatever the belief of the accused.
If the offence cannot be assigned to either preceding category, then it will be indecent if it can be shown that the accused thought it indecent.
In India, it is punishable under section 354 IPC.
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