Tag: cyber crime against women in India and the laws

Women’s Day, 2019 : Views of a #webwonderwoman


Picture Curtsy: https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/centre-honours-30-web-wonder-women-for-driving-reforms-via-social-media-2003833?fbclid=IwAR0h6TDvuaPHOP_mFZuq2Z3Tbk8szdy–8inqBOiBqhd4bVpo7rTudLeY1s


In a late afternoon in the last week of February, 2019 I received a message from Ministry of Women & Child Affairs, Government of India congratulating me for winning the #webwonderwomen award in the category of Legal/policy . #Webwonderwomen is an initiative of Ministry of women & Child, BreakThrough India, an NGO which works for women and girls and Twitter to honor 30 women  from diverse fields who had used Twitter positively for spreading awareness, reaching out to people in need and above all, advocating for women empowerment. Among the 30 women were women activists, lawyers, journalists, sanitation & public health activists, food blogger & nutritionist, film maker, activist promoting breast-feeding, women government officials and myself, who works for victims, especially women victims of cyber crimes.  There were different heartwarming  as well as heart breaking stories told by award winners ; they shared stories of  failures and success, happiness and pain, the feeling of being ridiculed by others because of their support to other women. No wonder, I have also gone through the same while executing my wish to help victims of cyber crimes: I have been cyber  bullied, stalked, trolled and threatened by men and women for my work . I have been asked ridiculous questions regarding my “attachment” with the virtual world. Finally with this award, I could prove that being on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or on internet as a whole for more than the time allotted for general women by their families and societies is not that bad. I have an “unlimited” (in regard to time)  access to net and my husband respects my time on net.  I am fortunate to make this space. I have seen many women who are not allowed to be on net for more than a limited period by their families especially men folk, who may be enjoying (consuming) avatars of other women when their women enter the ‘restricted time period’ for net surfing on a daily basis.

This women’s day is special because as #webwonderwomen awardee I have become a proud ambassador of the Ministry of women and children affairs like my fellow award winners. This is also special because on the very day when I received the award, I saw nothing changed when it comes to cyber crimes against women. While going through the newspaper that very morning, I noticed two news items which  made me think how womens day becomes meaningless for several thousands of women victims of cyber crimes : one was regarding a gang rape survivor who came across the clipping of her own rape scene and dared to walk into the police station to report not only about the physical rape, but also about the virtual consumption of her physical assault by many. The second was about duping of a woman in a renowned matrimonial site . None of these incidents is new for me. However, I salute the rape survivor who took the matter to the police. She must have undergone severe secondary victimization and traumatization by now just like the other victim that I mentioned above. We do not know what would happen to them later: how far the police and prosecution  may help  them ? with a limited legal awareness and fear of  societal taboo, many victims like these two have to withdraw their cases and disappear.

Women’s day is necessarily  related to The Convention on elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW), which was adopted by the UN general Assembly in 1979 and which defines discrimination against women as “…any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.”  The scope of this definition has automatically expanded to include gender discrimination, misogyny and abuse of women’s rights online.  I was more interested in the award ceremony because of Twitter as its  partner.  Social media like Twitter, Faceook , Instagram, YouTube etc are used for women empowerment. But they are notorious platforms for victimization of women. This year’s theme for International women’s day is “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change” , which signifies women empowerment in the field of technology and innovative work by women and men alike for gender equality and betterment of  situation of women across the globe. This won’t fructify unless web companies take the responsibility of  providing safety against gross abuse of women. As women activists, many of us know that there more takers of CEDAW; but how many States are actually ensuring proper implementation of laws especially for women victims of cybercrimes is a question that needs to be researched. There is no uniform law to recognize several cyber offences against women. Majority of countries have no laws for prevention of cyber bullying, stalking, impersonation  of women, online sexual offences  targeting women.  Sexting and revenge porn still fall in the grey line in majority of the countries. It is still considered a taboo for women to watch porn ; women who are caught watching porn/porn contents  are severely moral policed by the society . But on the other hand, when men watch porn including revenge porn and nonconsensual porn, it is still considered as normal because unless the websites flag them as illegal , men (and in certain cases women and  children too) may not be prevented even by the courts because apparently the victims would not have moved the police and / or the courts for taking action to take down the offensive contents .   Majority of these victims may be completely unware of the fact that they have been made subjects of  online consumption as ‘sex items’. Consider the case of  socio-economically poor  women who may be trafficked and their videos of having sexual activities may be floating for many years without making them understand how they are being ‘consumed’ by millions.[1]

“Think equal, build smart, innovate for change” would be possible only when the society including the government stakeholders  as a whole come together to take a holistic step towards preventing cyber victimization of women and creating safe place for women and girls online and in real life.

Wish you all, a very happy WOMEN’S DAY . Lets “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change”.


[1] See for example Halder D., & Jaishankar, K. (2014). Online Victimization of Andaman Jarawa Tribal Women: An Analysis of the Human Safari YouTube Videos (2012) and its Effects. British Journal of Criminology, 54(4), 673-688. (Impact factor 1.556). DOI: 10.1093/bjc/azu026.


Please Note: This blog was first posted @   “Halder D. (2019), ” Women’s Day, 2019 : Views of a #webwonderwoman”  8th March, 2019 ,@https://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com/2019/03/womens-day-2019-views-of-webwonderwoman.html?spref=fb&fbclid=IwAR1-zH4VuTEEisNLYWogvHvMDOfWDduzkGWvlRl05_CzfopCRtF9OJ3tLTc

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Selfie……… are we recreating the meaning of privacy and self respect?


My father used to write his daily diaries. After eight years since he is gone, when I read them, I understand how much relaxed he would have felt when he wrote about his day in the office and at home. But these diaries were his own private possession which he never shared with anyone. Privacy was a matter personal pride in those days. But with the advent of technologies, the meaning of privacy has become broader. Documenting every single moment of life has become a trend now. This has become possible by the ‘selfie’ way.
In my earlier blogs when I wrote about selfies, I observed that this habit among people newly armed with digital gadgets may be destructive. My observation still stands strong. Leave the cases of accidental deaths that had occurred due o selfie- passion. Consider that one series of photographs of a woman (claimed to be selfie), which became viral in the web :we saw her gradual change from a happy woman to a battered woman.  Social networking sites give the best platform for selfie lovers because you can share the selfie, no matter how you look. But selfies have  positive as well as negative sides too.  Your gadget is your best friend when you are a lone traveller to some amazing place where photography is allowed; your selfie  may help you to understand how much you have lost weight after hard workouts and these are extremely ego boosting too.  A selfie in a new job desk or in your new uniform can work wonder when you need to boost your energy towards your work or rekindle the passion to your work. I would not shy away from saying that even I am also a passionate ‘selfie’ woman. But certain selfies are not meant to be shared. They are like my father’s diaries, to be kept as ‘private possession’ only to assess and reassess oneself. One such category of selfies is definitely ‘sex selfies’. I am yet to explore the growing literature as why do women in particular allow themselves or their partners to capture such private moments. In India we can see extremely opposite views regarding sex. The ancient sculptures in temples depicting sexual positions are considered as ‘text book samples’ for every human being. We are the first civilisation to codify sexual postures and habits and the ancient scripture is still considered as the only authentic book on sex related topics which is even referred by doctors and even legal researchers when it comes to explain human psychology and physiology related to sex. But those ancient sculptures were not ‘selfies’  in true sense. Or were they? ………… I remember when I was a school student, we visited Odhisha and got to see such sculptures in one of the ancient temples. I still remember one of our teachers murmuring to herself saying these may be the sculptor’s own imagination with his beloved. But even if those were the sculptors’ own imaginations, their privacy is not infringed because those statues neither resemble anyone, nor bear the names of anyone.
Perhaps this was one of the reasons that Indian laws have categorically exempted these sculptures and ancient scriptures from being called as ‘sexually explicit materials’ or obscene materials.  The latest of such laws, S.354C of the Indian Penal code which speaks about voyeurism as a crime against women, also iterates the same. A woman has liberty to take ‘selfie’ or allow other to take such photograph when in a compromising moment. But that must be her ‘private possession’  as long as she feels it is not safe to share with public. Sense of privacy therefore matters much when we need to consider the offensive nature of the ‘selfie’. Also, one must consider about the perception of others when the selfie is viewed by others. One of my selfie that I uploaded in my Facebook profile once attracted huge attention from my friends as well as ‘strangers’. While some praised me for looking different after shredding  weight, some messages from ‘strangers’ made me feel uneasy as this particular photo of mine was probably  perceived by them as an object of ‘secret pleasure’. As a researcher, I am aware of the risks of participatory qualitative research methodology especially when the researcher herself becomes involved as a participant. As a precautionary measure, I restricted the viewers to my ‘friends’. But it may be necessary to note that even though I may have felt uneasy, I may not be able to bring a criminal case on those comments because they may not qualify as ‘bad speech’. A simple ‘hi beautiful’ from a stranger would not make the police or the judges believe that the poster had breached the laws or harmed my modesty as a woman in this internet age. Only when it falls in the typical categories of  harassing message, or stalking or intimidation etc, that I may be able to seek the legal help. But that does not mean that women should leave such ‘unwanted comments’ to form into those typical categories of ‘bad speech’ and suffer during the ‘gestation period.’ It is always safer to choose the audience and limit the same.
If women of digital era are aware of their own ‘privacy goals’ and self respect, selfies can remain wonderful risk free documents for a long time.
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. (2015), Selfie……… are we recreating the meaning of  privacy and  self respect?
, 2ndMay,2015, published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com/