CYBER CRIME AGAINST WOMEN BY DEBARATI HALDER
Gone are the days when young women preferred to secretly seek information from friends, cousins or aunties residing in neighbouring houses about periods, sexual behaviour of men on nuptial nights or about pregnancy and related issues. Hush hush talks about delayed periods, sex etc slowly shifted to digital communication mediums and gradually women are now talking about these issues openly, breaking gender based myths that periods make women ‘untouchable’ or delayed periods may signify obvious pregnancy. This would not have been possible without the social media as a positive platform for letting women express their feelings and seek information from various groups , pages, websites etc. This is the main reason that social media is also called infotainment as well, which signifies information-entertainment. While this is the worldwide trend now, in India women are still gathering courage to speak about these issues openly on social media platforms. For many women, it is still a matter to be shared either by phone calls or by way of Facebook, Yahoo, Gmail chat messengers, or by way of WhatsApp, Vibe, WeChat etc. Often women may not only seek to gain information on these information by sharing ‘private secrets’, they may also like to know about fellow women’s sexual relationship with their husbands or boyfriends. There was this report by Porno-Hub which showed that women in India are no less porno viewers compared to their male counter parts (http://www.telegraphindia.com/1160103/jsp/7days/story_61762.jsp#.Voj9msLUnQ0.facebook). Women, like men are inquisitive to know about the sexual behavior of other couples and truely speaking, there is no wrong is sharing such secrets.
There are risks involved in sharing sex-secrets with other women even in closed groups. The language used by women inquisitive to know about sexual behaviour of friends may not always be comfortable for others; such communications are supposed to be ‘not serious’ and women may tend to use ‘sex jokes’ which are supposed to be exclusively meant for men. But do remember, women have equal right to expression: then where is the problem? Many a times, women friends may pester each other to share private photos on WhatsApp or similar mobile messaging platforms. These are not typical sexting, but clearly photos in a compromising position with the male partners , or simple photos of embracing or hugging each other on bed . While the earlier may be extremely risky since it may attract legal liabilities of creating sexually explicit images and distributing the same (if not kept in the owner’s own possession for private viewing), the later may look perfectly safe to create and distribute. But when seen from the perspective of online safety of women, distribution of both sorts of images may be risky. This is because, the recipient of the message asking to share the photographs, may never know whether the message was generated by the friend whom she knew since her childhood or she is truly her best friend. The sender may be the adolescent child of the friend who helps the ‘cyber illiterate mom’ to send messages, may be her husband who wishes to monitor her and her friends or may be any other stranger who may have gained illegal access to the phone either physically or digitally. The caution note for sharing sex-secrets by plain texting is also similar. The information that is sent out may be misused if the same is shared with public by others who may want to harass or blackmail the sender of the information. It takes a few seconds to text a sex joke or share the ‘bed secrets’ with friends, but may take huge time to remove the unwanted information from public viewing and manage reputation damage. Women who may pester their friends to get indulged in such secret talks through digital communication platforms may not be fully aware of safety risks. It is therefore better to be aware than to be ‘less serious’ and ‘popular’ only to attract more danger for oneself and her friends. Let us keep our secrets to ourselves and let us enjoy real life socialising for the sake of online safety of us, the women.
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. (2016), “Risky private talks: what women must be aware of”
11th March, 2016, published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com/