CYBER CRIME AGAINST WOMEN
In India, cyber victimization remains a hush hush issue when it comes to individuals. In 2009 I, a lawyer and a Ph.d candidate of NLSIU myself, along with my criminologist husband created “Centre for Cyber Victim counseling”© for the cause of cyber crime victims of India. We are happy to note that our organization’s website http://www.cybervictims.org/ proves useful to many. Indeed, me as a woman and as an internet user also, have been ridiculed and teased several times in the internet and I know there are several men and women who have been victimized like me in the cyber space. I have learnt to use my bad experiences, my knowledge of law and my legal background for good and I dedicate my experiences for the cause of betterment of the society through “Centre for Cyber Victim counseling”© . Our organization will be celebrating it’s first birthday in July this year and as a first anniversary celebration, we have revamped our organization website and it can be seen @ http://www.cybervictims.org/. We help victims through online counseling and we have teamed up with our national and international knowledge partners to work towards prevention of cyber victimization. We are now spreading our wings and we will be arranging awareness programmes. As our first initiative, we will be the “support partner” for the first international conference of South Asian Society of Criminology and Victimology (SASCV) ( http://www.sascv.org/). We are also requesting the print media to contact us for more information in this regard which will be a fruitful effort towards prevention of cyber crime.
From my own personal experiences I can say “being a victim” is the hardest truth one may have to come across. I started ‘interneting’ since 2005 .As a new owner of a personal computer and the broadband connection; I loved to mail my friends and cousins in different cities and countries. I was practically confined in a house with a two year old baby and some arrears in for my Master of Law (ML) degree examinations. I felt ridiculous with no law teachers who can guide me for the study materials, no fellow students with whom I can discuss and no friends around to whom I can confide how hard it is write exams with a two year old baby. I didn’t take to depression –drugs , instead I went for internet. I started getting huge study materials and friends .Well, I did pass the exams well, but I didn’t leave internetting even after I was conferred ML degree. Those days privacy in the internet was relatively little known issue. I became members of couple of social networking sites and within days my inbox was swept with teasing, vulgar messages. I loved to fuss about my husband and I prominently displayed “married” status every where. No wonder, he started getting unwanted mails and bullying attacks soon. In fact I remember a particular occasion when I demanded a dinner outside because he “won a lottery”. Fortunately he is well read and he told me no dinner because that was a fake mail. I really didn’t believe it as long as one of our friends reported to have lost nearly Rs. 25,000/- .Well, that was one of my first encounters with cyber crime. Slowly my interest grew in this area and I found so many victims of similar incidences around me. I know I may sound odd, but it is a bitter truth …….many don’t know how they are being victimized online and many individuals willingly become victims. “Centre for cyber victim counseling”© is build upon the trust that the victim’s immediate need would be looked after. I call all the victims who fear to face the reality, to really face it bravely. Consider our organization at http://www.cybervictims.org/ as your friend ……we are there to help you.
CYBER CRIME AGAINST WOMEN
It had been eight long months since we started Centre for “Cyber Victims Counseling” (CCVC). I felt this is the right time to write a few words about this brain child of ours……me and my husband. We are basically a “Trust”, an all voluntary not for profit NGO with social service agenda, working towards betterment of cyber space. Our primary concern is Indian cyber space. Being a lawyer myself, I felt this is the best way I could contribute to my country and countrymen. Indian cyber space has become more secured than before due to several organizations and individuals who are working on cyber crime issues since couple of years. On behalf of CCVC, we are proud to follow their footsteps.
When we conceived the idea of CCVC, I never knew there would be so many responses. Many contacted us for different sorts of help and guidance from within the country as well as outside the country. We in CCVC are thankful to all of you who consider us “worthy friends” to tell your problems. While we were building CCVC, we received many criticisms too. We consider them as treasures in disguise. Feedbacks, guidance and criticisms make CCVC stronger to help the victims, individuals, students and the researchers as well. We are growing in handling each experience of yours. I take this opportunity to thank Jayne Hitchcock, whom I consider as my mentor. I got to learn basic cyber ethics from her. WHOA and Hitchcock were our “motivators” behind starting CCVC.
I know, healing a patient with physical pain is a tough job. But healing a victim of cyber attack is neither an easy task. The pain one goes through remains for long, some times for life. Besides providing counseling to cyber crime victims, what satisfies me more is the blogs I run as a part of CCVC’s activities. These blogs creates awareness about cyber crimes and victimisation. I would be extremely happy to help all who need to know about cyber crime and laws . In the CCVC, we are planning for more activities in the coming months. Do keep an eye on CCVC’c blogs @ http://cybervictims.blogspot.com/ and http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com/ to know about our further plans and activities.
“Forced prostitution” ……. something no woman wants to do but circumstances make her to do , has become a dreadful reality in today’s digital era. A woman’s sexuality can be used ( readers please read it as “misuse”) in various ways for gain . In this internet era the easiest way to business with women is to upload the real life informations about the woman in target and “exhibit her ” for availability for dating, dirty talks and even have her for a night or two. The women are mostly handpicked by men or even women who feel they have been badly hurt by their “targets” and this is the best way to show them that “I can also ruin your life in a better way “. The “target” all of a sudden gets call either in her mobile phone or home phone asking for her “services”. Some even drop at her door step to “have a deal on first come first serve basis”. Well, the woman is taken by surprise, her family feels disgusted, friends line up to console her but none really know exactly how the poor woman turned into a virtual “most wanted sexy babe”. But a little research on the history of the case may reveal this was but inevitable ………… perhaps her mobile number was displayed in her social networking site or she may have generously distributed her personal number among one and all; similarly, it wont be surprising if her picture is captured from her chosen sites, or her home address was displayed in the internet; the issue becomes more grave if the harasser knows the victim personally offline. The effect could be instant stigma to the woman in question. Even though she may not have any cyber inclination other than just seeing her emails, she may be forced to have a look at these ugly sites against her wishes. But it will be surprising to note that it is not the pornographic or adult dating sites only which are used to victimize the woman ; even good social networking sits are also used to “display” her .Fake profiles may be created about her and enormous “advertisements” about her may do the needful.
Indian cyber audience has witnessed nasty things like this not so long ago and it is increasing in number. While in the west, many of such incidences are immediately reported, Indian mindset makes the woman in question feel traumatized, guilty and ashamed of her self. The situation may need her to cancel her phone number or even change her residential address or constant police protection. But in most cases, these options look tedious and the victim prefers to be as she is …………. silently bearing the brunt, waiting patiently to let the “craze” die down automatically. But one must understand that the poor victim can not be dragged deeper in side the scandalous pool due to mischievous misuse of the cyber space by irresponsible individuals. Some simple precautions like not displaying personal numbers or addresses in the public sites etc may go a long way to save women from these perfidious incidents. But ACCIDENTS DO HAPPEN. The best way to prevent such unwanted incidences could be to prevent one’s too much self exposition for “fun” in the internet and at the same time putting a STOP to the usage of internet for taking revenges. Remember, the law never leaves individual revenge takers, no matter whether he does it in the traditional offline way of hurting the victim in person or by using the electronic and digital medium to damage the victim’s reputation and thereafter attacking her in person.