CYBER CRIME AGAINST WOMEN BY DEBARATI HALDER
Not very long ago, India happily rejoiced the birth of first ever cyber stalking law and anti- voyeurism which was finally re framed to look after only women. The law is a part of anti-sexual crimes provisions that were introduced through Verma Committee report after the brutal gang rape in Delhi last December. But could law really help to stop atrocities against women especially when the harassment is carried out through digital media? Women victims often compliant of mobile phone harassment. This includes repeated calls, SMSs, blank calls, threatening calls and even sending lewd MMSs. Women celebs are the worst targeted victims. Trolls, fans, men claiming to be exs…..the list is exhausting, but ask the women celebs and they will positively agree that people belonging to these categories do disturb them not only through various social networking sites, but also via mobile phones. Some daring women did face it bravely. The recent one in the list is Mona of jassi jaisi koi nahi who refused to take the MMS leak incidence lightly.Hopefully the perpetrator would be nabbed and the link would be deactivated soon. But it did have a damaging effect already. She is portrayed the way which she is not actually. Mona represents those women who are regularly targeted for defamation in the wider platform called World Wide Web. I researched on this and found out that in India, this is the easiest way to stop a prospective marriage alliance or a job portfolio for a woman ( I had presented paper on this in Sweden Criminology Symposium in 2012. The excerpts of my findings are compiled by Johanna Hagstedt, in “ Risk behaviours increase exposure to cyber crime” (October 5, 2012) Available @ http://www.criminologysymposium.com/symposium/event-information/2012/archive/news/2012-10-05-risk-behaviours-increase-exposure-to-cyber-crime.html). Unfortunately not many women prefer to be as brave as Mona and her predecessors for reporting the crime. The reason is largely fear of exposure of privacy. We do get to see so many news reports about rape and acid attack. Defamation through this channel is no less severe. No woman wants to be a virtual prostitute who would be ‘enjoyed’ by millions. It can turn women victim suicidal too; the recent example is the suicide of Rehtah Parsons of Nova Scotia.
But dont think that this is the only form of victimisation that haunts the women the most. Bangalore Mirror on April 8, 2013 carried out a brief news which spoke about stalking of Jaya Bachchan, the effervescent actor of yesteryears and present day Rajya Sabha MP . The report claimed that Mrs. Bachchan received continuous calls from a Dubai based number. The man claimed to be an ardent fan of Mrs. Bachchan. Now note that this news came up after the much fussed about “anti-rape Bill” (which also included anti-stalking law) was introduced in India and the police and criminal justice machinery was promising to take strict action if the crime falls under any of the categories that this new provision recognises. The report however claimed that Jaya Bachchan probably could not get instant justice as the investigation revealed that the call was made from out of India and the local police could not offer much help(Bangalore Mirror, 8th April). Jaya Bachchan again represents that sect of women victims who are turned down by the local police due to poor infrastructure and lack of understanding. The police need not have looked at the new provision which still awaits to be functional; but we do have S.66A of the Information Technology Act, which many eminent lawyers pointed out, has a potential to be used as an anti –stalking law and which has extra-territorial effect by virtue of the I.T. Act provisions. In some of my media interviews I did support the existence of S.66A especially for causes of women .I still support it. But it is being misused for wrong reasons. Look at the irony; no one understood the value of a good law which has been misused and now termed as “draconian law”.However, I hope by now the case is solved and justice has been done.
Indeed, women need patience for better understanding of the whole scenario by police and criminal justice machinery. But the waiting time is painful, disgraceful and dangerous. Let us hope that the waiting period gets over soon. My salute to you brave women who had endured such humiliation but still carrying on with life.
Please Note: Do not violate copyright of this blog. If you would like to use informations provided in this blog for your own assignment/writeup/project/blog/article, please cite it as “Halder D. (2013), “No relief for women from stalking and morphing” 15th April ,2013, published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com/