CYBER CRIME AGAINST WOMEN BY DR.DEBARATI HALDER,PH.D.
It was an anxious moment for almost every citizen in the country who was waiting to see what awaits the rapists of Nirbhaya, the Delhi gang rape victim. Right on the eve of the judgement day however, I came across another news which led me to think more than I was expected to think on the gang rape verdict: the electronic personal safety device (Epsd) which is on its way specially to protect women in distress ( See http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/watchlike-device-to-alert-kin-of-women-in-distress/article5107722.ece) . I would have forgotten the information as‘regular news’ which kindles our mind only for a minute or two had I not been called for an interview by PuthiyaThalaimurai, a Tamil News channel, on the judgement day. The breaking news that this TV channel was airing after 2 in the afternoon obviously braced the issue of the verdict, especially the death penalty and people’s emotions related to it. I was asked about my opinion as an advocate, a woman advocate rather. The reporter, while giving his details and interviewing me, told about the 12 year old school girl in Tuticorin, who was brutally raped and then killed by the rapist almost within a week after the Delhi gang rape case happened. While I was giving my views as to what sentence can be expected in this particular rape case, I started realising how far the society has become blood thirsty for rapists. As a woman and a mother of a girl, even I myself would have wanted any one who sexually abuses or assaults another woman or a minor girl, to go through similar or even more physical pain and mental trauma that he would have caused to his victim. However, as an advocate and a legal researcher, I need to be more rational.
But an ‘EPSD’ for protecting women from sexual abusers?
After going through hoards of news reports about the Delhi verdict and knowing how brutally the little girl in Tuticorin was killed, I could not stop thinking the ‘watch like device’ as similar to geolocator loggers or collars used for tracking migratory birds or wild animals and the women who would be wearing it, as experimental guinea pigs trapped and tracked for no fault of theirs.
I have some points to think it as anti feminist:
i.Even though the operation of it would be manual, i.e, the woman can switch on the device only when she needs to alert her people, what happens when the it gets accidentally ( or even intentionally) switched on by the harasser if he wishes to show the harassment, disrobing or even rape of the victim to the select audience through even smarter technology ?
ii. Given the fact that laws in India are still confused about tracking a non-criminal person by private individuals including the parents, husbands or other immediate family members, would the privacy-infringement laws be amended again to include this exception? In that case, we need to be ready for the misuse of the law also.
iii. Nonetheless, our Indian society is changing. Won’t this device present another debatable issue similar to dress-code or gagging the right to use mobile phones or internet for women ( I discussed about this in one of my earlier blogs @ http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.in/2012/12/gagging-right-to-digital-communication.html)?
Well, I am not the only one who is thinking in these lines. Some of the comment –contributors of the news report on the device did express similar concern.
But I must say, the device is a safety device and apparently women would be given freedom to use it or not to use it since The Constitution of India has given equal rights to women to live their own lives. Saying this, I can neither ignore the benefits of the device. Tracking of criminals through GPS system is introduced to Indian police system quite a long ago. Almost all the police head quarters and police stations including stations situated in interior parts of India are expected to stay connected to track the criminal through this; and this device can be an extended mobile version of criminal tracking system, which would be carried by women. It can be expected that in future everyone, irrespective of their gender can use it for alerting the police about the crime and the criminal.
But still then, I can’t stop thinking: has our society gone so low that it has to tie the crime detector on women (my angry soul can’t stop myself from giving the name to our gender in great dismay ‘the sex-thing’)?
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), “Security of women in whose hands”, 15thSeptember,2013, published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com/