CYBER CRIME AGAINST WOMEN BY DEBARATI HALDER
One of the trending news in Facebook and Twitter now is that of Ray Rice. He punched his the- then girlfriend, made her unconscious and dragged her from the elevator in inhuman ways; so what is the big issue in it? As the media reports say, he is now married to his ‘victim’ Janay Palmer, even though there are records that he had had the most dangerous ‘punch’ delivered on her which many women consider a good ground to not to continue any relationship, leave marriage. I was going through Professor Mary Anne Franks’s Facebook posts regarding this. I, like many of her fans who follow her scholarly write-ups, at first thought that this was an issue of another celeb-scandal. But when I went through the media reports that Professor Franks shared and her comments on that, I felt shocked. One of the ‘comments’ that I read in her posts stated that Rice was taught to blow punches to knock down hardest man and also was taught to not to use these for anyone other than his opponents in sports or for self defence. What drew attention of the world was the cctv footage of the whole act and the actions that had been taken or should be taken against him. What drew my attention was, pleading from the sensible people including Dr.Franks to not to watch or share this video as this may add more humiliation to the woman who has been victimised. I agree. In India after the Badaun case, many started sharing the images; some for showing genuine concern and some for using it as a warning message for women who dare to break the obnoxious rules setup by some societies to restrict women’s rights to speech, to life and to choose a partner of her own choice. I was one of the many who got requests from Facebook friends and acquaintances to share the images. My answer was my blog @ http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.in/2014/06/what-does-social-media-has-to-do-with.html. I had this realisation especially after I did my research on online victimisation of Andaman Jarawa women (the online version can be found @ http://bjc.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/05/05/bjc.azu026.abstract?keytype=ref&ijkey=3XNPIViieFGse4G). Why only Badaun case? In the internet one can find thousands of footages which show humiliation of women in various ways and I am not talking about pornographic sites only. There are videos of kicking, hitting, verbally abusing, dragging women or even unwanted and unwelcome touching. There are also footages of kissing or love-making which may have been uploaded either as a secret leak of cctv footage or as planned uploading of revenge porn materials.
The common behaviour that can be expected from the people in such cases is, they glance those audio-visual or still images to satisfy their own inquisitiveness and may also share them to show concern (both in positive as well as negative meaning) and may also add their own ‘comments’ to make the ‘items’ more enjoyable for the trolls. In our latest article “Revenge porn by teens: a socio-legal analysis”(International Annals of Criminology, 51(1-2),85-111), we had shown how revenge porn becomes an offensive material the same way. Many don’t understand that by contributing more ‘hits’ to these clippings they are actually contributing more towards the humiliation of the victim. I remember couple of years back there was this YouTube clipping which was doing rounds in the internet : of an angry young woman with a small child in her lap, hitting, punching and violently pulling the hair of another woman and the husband, who were ‘caught red handed’ having a extra marital affair. The abuser was not alone; she was accompanied by some of her women relatives who were also hurling abusive words to the ‘other woman’ and the husband. Whether this was an amateur ‘YouTube short movie’ or a genuine incidence recorded by an agitated relative of the wife whose husband was denying her the love and care for another woman, is unknown to me. But this video was instantly spread in the internet attracting hundreds of comments, for as well as against the ‘wife’. If this was a genuine video, it needs to be understood that this could have reduced the ‘wife’s’ chance to claim justice as the ‘other woman’ could win over her due to the physical as well as online humiliation she may have got. Due to the tremendous developments in the laws, especially in evidence laws in India, influenced by availability and genuineness of the digital records and also the human habits of depending over the digital communication technology for positive as well as negative gains, the perception of the society and the criminal justice administration towards direct digital crimes and indirect (sometimes it may be non-voluntary as well) crimes have also changed. On the positive side, let us hope that soon the prosecution would also start including the liability of those who add more insults to the victim by ‘enjoying’ the visual images of victimisation. Unless people show concern by not seeing, commenting and spreading of such humiliating images, victims would continue to be victimised.
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. (2014), “What should we learn from the case of Ray Rice?13th September,2014, published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com/