The increasing reach of the internet, the rapid spread of mobile information, and the widespread use of social media, coupled with the existing pandemic of violence against women and girls has led to the emergence of cyber-crime as a growing global problem with potentially significant economic and societal consequences.
Cyber-crimes refer to any criminal activity that takes place digitally by using or targeting a computer or a computer network or network device with the purpose of carrying illegal activities which involve invasion of privacy, data theft, committing fraud, human trafficking etc.
Increase in the exposure and usage of digital media almost any person could be a victim of such an illegal activity, but the women being the soft targets are the major sufferers of such crimes. As per the 2017 report released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) the number of cyber-crimes have increased drastically and nearly every fifth cyber-crime was committed against women.
- CYBER CRIMES FACED BY WOMEN ARE:
- Harassment through e-mails: Harassment via email includes black mailing, threatening and constant sending of love letters in anonymous names or regular sending of embarrassing mails.
- Cyber stalking: ‘Stalkers are strengthened by the anonymity the internet offers. He may be on the other side of the earth, or a next-door neighbour or a near relative!’ It involves following a person’s movements across the Internet by posting messages (sometimes threatening) on the bulletin boards frequented by the victim, entering the chat-rooms frequented by the victim, constantly bombarding the victim with emails etc. In general, the stalker intends to cause emotional distress and has no legitimate purpose to his communications.
- Cyber defamation: Cyber defamation also called Cyber smearing can be understood as the intentional infringement of ‘another person’s right to his good name. ‘Cyber Defamation occurs with the help of computers and / or the Internet. It is considered more of a menace owing to its expeditious nature.
- Child pornography: Child sexually abusive material (CSAM) refers to material containing sexual image in any form, of a child who is abused or sexually exploited. Section 67 (B) of IT Act states that “it is punishable for publishing or transmitting of material depicting children in sexually explicit act, etc. in electronic form.
- Cyber bullying: A form of harassment or bullying inflicted through the use of electronic or communication devices such as computer, mobile phone, laptop, etc.
- Cyber grooming: Cyber Grooming is when a person builds an online relationship with a young person and tricks or pressures him/ her into doing sexual act.
Such crimes have a drastic effect on the physical and mental capacity of women. Especially in cases where her modesty or dignity is severally affected. Women are easy targets and so are victimised easily by such illegal activities
In such a situation and condition women need to be provided with the proper protection and remedies to cope with such situations. Suggestion towards the course of action is stated below:
- The LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK:
India has no dedicated legislation which deals with violence faced by women online.
Provisions to deal with such issues have been scattered in two main legislations Information Technology Act, 2002(ITA), and the Indian Penal Code
- IT Act, 2000 that specifically deal with the crime against women :
- Section 66 deals with publishing information which is obscene in electric form.
- Section 66E deals with violation of privacy
- Section 67 deals with access to protected system
- Section 70 deals with breach of confidentiality and privacy
- Cases of Cyber Laws under IPC and Special Laws:
- Sending threatening messages by email – Sec 505 IPC
- Sending defamatory messages by email – Sec 499 IPC
- Forgery of Electronic records – Sec 463 IPC
- Bogus websites, Cyber Frauds – Sec 420 IPC
- Email Spoofing – Sec. 463 IPC
- Web- Jacking –Sec. 383 IPC
- Email abuse – Sec 500 IPC
- Voyeurism- Section 354C IPC
- Despite regressive and progressive laws, High Court in India have made an effort to recognize the agency of women
- Whether it is an independency to choose one’s profession or make any other choices is a right guaranteed by Article 21 of Constitution.
- Supreme Court has various instances affirmed the women’s right to privacy as a constitutional right.
- The bench made made a connect linking three aspects of privacy
- Bodily integrity
- Informational privacy
- Privacy of choice
With preamble of constitution which guaranteed democracy, dignity and fraternity
- The judgment also acknowledged that privacy can act as a veil to perpetuate violence
- The court observed
“The challenge in this area is to enable the state to take the violation of the dignity of women in the domestic sphere seriously while at the same time protecting the privacy entitlements of women grounded in the identity of gender and liberty”
- GOVERNMENT INITIATIVE
Apart from the legal provisions laid down the government has taken an initiative by the following:
- The Union Ministry of women and Child Development (WCD) plays an important role by taking steps to tackle online harassment and violence. Also, they have issued guidelines to matrimonial sites to check harassment of women on such sites.
- It has also set up a cell with a dedicated email id, firstname.lastname@example.org to report complaints relating to online trolling/harassment.
- The WCD has also come up with the idea of green channel for cyber-crime cases on a real-time basis, where the abusive content can be taken down immediately.
India has a long way to go before it claims to have a vigorous legal framework to address violence faced by women. It may have some loose ends with respect to social attitudes.
The Ministry of WCD is trying its best at strengthening the law and bridging the gap between provisions of IT Act and IPC in addressing the violence against women online.
These path breaking rules and hopefully new developments in law will make way for more progressive frameworks, with respect to the privacy, dignity and agency of women and encouraging women towards empowerment.