CYBER CRIME AGAINST WOMEN BY DEBARATI HALDER
As practitioners, students and also researchers, all of us are familiar with the term extortion and its related consequences. But I wish to discuss something other than ordinary extortions. No, it is not coercion for money, but it is coercion for sexually explicit pictures and lust for having such images in one’s personal computer for further purposes; or in one word ‘sextortion’ that is the prime focus of this blog of “Centre for Cyber Crime Victim Counselling (CCVC)”©. The word sounds peculiar……isnt it ? But most researchers on cyber crime and internet pornography, especially those who are dealing with child-victims, may have come across this term. It is actually a form of exploitation where the accused coerces the victim for more sexually explicit pictures for future hardcore pornographic use.* Often Sextortion may also begin with ‘sexting’** by the victim himself/herself; that’s a risky game in real sense where one captures self nude or seminude images and floats it in the web to ‘show off’. General internet users, women and children especially may face this problem where harasser may suddenly start playing dirty tricks after he befriended the victim under the guise of ‘visitor’. Perhaps exchange of a few words about sexual orientation, personal interests and a peep into the personal albums may be enough for extorting sexually explicit images. There are umpteen numbers of examples where teenagers and young adults had fallen victims of this. Especially high school teenagers, who may have started experiencing the adventurous, daredevil days, may be in the high risk zone. No wonder, in some cases women are also the vulnerable victims especially when they are novice internetters and befriend one and all through chatrooms, social networking sites or even dating sites. Sextortion could happen in ways one can only think of in his/her bad dreams ……may be peer networking and then hacking or may be simple data mining from ‘unprotected’ online profiles. My quick research on this topic lead me to a news clipping “Man pleads in apparent sextortion case” (could be found in http://www.myfoxla.com/dpp/news/local/man-pleads-in-apparent-sextortion-case-20100719) and I was nearly shocked to find this man was pleaded NOT GUILTY for a train of federal charges which he confessed to have done on the instigation of some over zealous cautious male intimate partners.
What could have been the case as per Indian laws? Well, seen from a holistic legal point of view, extortions such as these could be a complete NO as per our laws. There are several penal provisions both from the Indian penal Code and also from the Information Technology Act 2000 (amended in 2008) which could team up to give a good lesson to these sorts of accused. Note that these provisions may push these types of cases to non bailable offence also especially when the harasser decides to play over smart.
But do not think these are new ‘games’ in the Indian cyber space. Such tricks are already experimented and many innocent victims do tend to fall in the trap. Hence be careful.
*see Sextortion. (2010, August 19). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 11:48, September 1, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sextortion&oldid=379740340 and also see “Feds: online sextortion of the teens on the rise” .Retrieved from http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_sextortion_teens
** see Sexting. (2010, August 31). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14:24, September 1, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sexting&oldid=382156023
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