Tag: Crime against women

When reporting is not welcome


Last month I attended the National Commission for Women of India’s consultation meet on cybercrime against women as an expert. I not only got to meet other luminaries on law, cyber security and gender studies from all over India, I took this golden opportunity to learn more about some practical issues from the experts in the field. Almost all of us in the consultation meet unanimously agreed that majority of online crimes against women go unnoticed because women don’t report the crime. Why online crimes? There are thousands of cases of offline gender harassment, wife abuse, elder abuse and child abuse are going around in all of our neighbourhoods, but how many of us really know about it? How many of the victims actually feel that the cases are worth reporting? How many families encourage the victim to report the matter to the police? The recently released NCRB report would tell the sorry state of affairs in this regard. This is for the first time that the NCRB report has included statistics about cyber crime targeting women in India. A glance to it would show that neither the new laws (as has been brought by the Criminal law amendment Act, 2013) were used properly for booking the crimes, nor there were much numbers of cases registered with the police. If one sees ongoing studies on gender harassment, it may be noted that in many places in India the victims have complained about non cooperation by the police when it comes to registering the crime. I agree with some of such findings. In many cases of wife abuse, sexual assault on women to even eve teasing in public places etc., may not receive proper police attention for various reasons. There are instances where driven by frustration, many women had either committed suicide, or had killed their children along with them, or had turned into chronic psycho-patients. In the cases of cyber crimes, my understanding says the reason for police apathy largely stems out from the lack of knowledge about the nature of the crime. I have discussed about this in many of my scholarly works.  However, I can not but put the equal share of blame on the victims as well. I have seen many young women victims of cyber crime, who were eager to report the matter to the police. Nonetheless, there are officers in the police department who are equally eager to help in such cases. I personally know some of such officers who take special interest in helping victims of cyber crime cases and who take special initiatives to encourage people to report cases of victimisation.  But they turn helpless when the victims suddenly decide to turn back. It needs to be noted that now in every district in all States in India, the police head quarters must compulsorily have cyber crime cell. This means that even if the local police stations officers are unequipped to register cases of cyber crime, a victim can directly go to the district police headquarters for seeking help. True, due to absence of mutual legal assistance treaties in cyber crime cases, some cases involving foreign jurisdictions may not be solved by the police. But still then, a case must be registered. Also, if the harasser is known to the victim, stays in the same locality and takes up digital ways to harass the victim, the police may solve the cases within record time only if the victim cooperates with the police. I have my personal experience in such cases and I highly appreciate such police officers who take personal interest in such kinds of cases even if the victim decides to withdraw in the mid-way. But unfortunately in many cases no FIR may be lodged due to the pressure from the victim’s own family.  As one officer expressed his concern, if no case is registered, yet the victim seeks help of the police, the police can still work on the case on the mutual understanding between the complainant and the officer, but to a certain limit. No procedural action can be taken to safeguard the victim or even taking the harasser to the next levels of investigation or even prosecution. This is because there are umpteen numbers of cases where victims had turned hostile during the prosecution and the policing of the case was questioned by the courts for no fault of the police personnel. Victims and their families must understand that they play an equal role or even greater role in executing the laws. Other wise, the laws would remain just ‘name sake laws’. One of the greatest examples is probably S.354D of the Indian Penal Code which addresses stalking as well as cyber stalking. While cases of offline stalking are being booked under this provision, online stalking is still not ‘understood’ properly either by the police or by the general public due to almost nil number of reported cases.
Women, please understand that unless we report the crimes, no one would come over to help. The cycle of harassment would continue to increase. Last but not the least; we will continue to have a police organisation who will be unaware of the present trends of online crimes and how to deal with such crimes since the victims would never make the police aware of the new trends of crimes.
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), When reporting is not welcome, 23rd August,2014, published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com/

Security of women in whose hands?


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/