Crimes against women in a digital India

Authored by Jahnvi from Amity University Patna

Introduction

Cybercrimes in India is at an alarming stage where women are drastically victimized. Majority of young girls are being victimized by the victimizer by sending salacious emails, or by publishing defamatory photos and information of the victim on various sites. The social networking sites plays a vital role in the field of cybercrimes. The rapid changes in the technology led to such crimes like cyber stalking, cyber pornography, online harassment etc. The recent incident of cybercrime took place in Mumbai where the cybercrime police had arrested three men from Haryana and Rajasthan for blackmailing and extorting lakhs and lakhs from Bollywood celebrities, businessmen and bureaucrats by using their images in a Deepfake sexual videos.[1]

Two businessmen filed a complaint to the police about being blackmailed. Further the police arrested the accused and sent them to the custody. One more incident took place in May 2020, named the ‘Bois locker room.’ In this case an Instagram group by the name of Bois locker room was found sharing obscene messages and morphed pictures of women. In this group chat majority of the members were teenage boys from Delhi. The scandal gets into the limelight when one of the users of Instagram named Niska Nagpal shared the screenshots of the group chats and morphed picture of young girls that were being shared in that chat. These kinds of incidents are becoming a new threat to women in cyber world.

Types of cyber offences against women-

  1. Cyberstalking- Cyberstalking is an offence in which one person is the attacker or stalker and the other one is the victim, who is harassed by the stalker. It is done by misusing the internet or electronic media. In cyberstalking the stalker track down the location or the online activities of the victim, and share unnecessary messages, and  personal information on the internet. In cyberstalking the stalker does not stalk or attack the victim physically but do it digitally which affects the mental state of the victim.

The landmark case of Ritu Kohli Case[2] is the first case of cyberstalking in India. In this case, the stalker named Manish was stalking Ritu Kohli and made a fake profile of her on the website http://www.mirc.com by using her pictures and personal information. Under the identity of Ritu Kohli, the stalker Manish was regularly chatting with several people by sending obscene messages and obnoxious language. Due to this Ritu Kohli was getting many of obscene calls and messages from different parts India and from abroad on her telephonic number. Further she filed a case under section 509 of Indian Penal Code, but it was seen that this section only talks about word, gesture or act intend to insult modest of a woman. As a result, section 66A of IT Act was introduced which defined the term cyberstalking.

  • Cyber Defamation- The term cyber defamation is also known as cyber smearing which means damaging someone’s reputation by false accusations. The case of Suhas Katti v. State of Tamil Nadu[3]is the only case in cybercrime in which the accused were convicted within short span of 7 months from filing an FIR. In this case a group message in Yahoo Messenger was posting obscene images and defamatory message about a divorcee woman. The victim also received phone calls by people who believed she was soliciting for sex work. After this the chargesheet was filed under the section 67 of IT Act 2000 and 469 and 509 of IPC. Further, the accused was found guilty and was sentenced for 2years of rigorous imprisonment under section 469 of IPC and sentenced to 1year simple imprisonment under 509 of IPC and for the offence under 67 of IT Act he was sentenced to go imprisonment for 2years. This case has set an example of Cybercrime Management.
  • Cyber Pornography- It contains all forms of designing, production and circulation of explicit pornographic content in cyber realm. As a result of advancement in technology the cyber pornography shows the cons side of the technology. Punishment of such acts are dealt under section 67 and 67A of the IT Act 2000. In the case of Avnish Bajaj v. Union of India[4] the CEO of Bzee.com Avnish Bajaj is in the sale of property online. It was found that a pornographic advertisement was listed on the website of Bazee, named “DPS Girls having fun”. He was taken into custody under the section 292 of IPC and section 67 of IT Act 2000. A summoning order was issued against him by which he further challenged to summon order section 482 before the Delhi High Court. Later the court granted him the bail subjecting to two sureties, first one is the amount of 1Lakh and ordered him to not to leave the country and to submit his passport to the Magistrate.
  • Harassment via E-mail- This form of harassment includes blackmailing, threatening. bullying etc. Laws dealing with the online harassment are dealt under section 66A, 67A, 67B and 67C of IT Act 2000, and in Indian Penal Code it is dealt under the section 509 and section 354D of the Indian Penal Code which was added by Criminal law (Amendment) Act 2013. In 2001, a teenage boy in 11th grade was held liable under section 509 for making vulgar remarks about one of his female classmates on a website named Amazing.com. It was a successful use of the section 509 in order to curb online harassment. In the case of Prakhar Sharma v. The State of Madhya Pradesh[5]the accused created a fake account of the victim by using her original photo on the Facebook, and posted malicious posts, vulgar messages in reference to the victim. Further the accused was charged under the section 66C, 67 and 67A of the IT Act and the Madhya Pradesh High Court denied the bail of the accused.

Few measures for Online Safety-

Awareness is very important in order to curb cybercrimes. Awareness of the laws related to the cybercrime should be mandatory for all the school going children. Awareness campaigns should be organizing by the NGO’s, schools, colleges etc. People must read all the privacy conditions of the websites in order to surf safe. The personal and professional information will also be shared at the secure websites, and lastly do not respond to the fraudulent messages or calls that asks you so much of personal information and also use strong passwords in all social media apps including, Facebook, Gmail etc. in order to stay away from cyberhackers.


[1] Deepfake pornography is consider as a type of synthetic porn that is created by applying deepfake technology to the faces of the actor, actress or any person in order to make some pornographic content that to without the knowledge or consent of the person whose pictures are being used.

[2] https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/._IT act 2000_Act_.

[3] Suhas Katti v. State of Tamil Nadu C No. 4680 of 2004.

[4] Crl. M.C. Appeal No. 3066 of 2006.

[5] Prakhar Sharma v. The State of Madhya Pradesh, MCRC No, 377 of 2018.

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