CYBER CRIME AGAINST WOMEN AND ITS PREVENTION

  • INTRODUCTION

Technology, a prominent source of information and entertainment but when it comes to its usage, it has become one of the most component reason to introduce cybercrime at this level where one can survive without food but not without internet. In today’s digital world of science and technologies man have created another world for himself, which is easily accessible, user friendly, and faster but is virtual. With the advent of computer, Cybercrime has been  emerged in the 21st century as  the criminals have changed the mode of committing the crimes from conventional method to computer based methods.

When these modern telecommunication networks such as internet and mobile phones are being used against an individual with a criminal motive to intentionally harm the reputation of the victim directly or indirectly, then it is considered as cybercrime. Due to extraordinary impact of the internet, Crimes are increasing its pace day by day and in case of women, it has completely blurred the picture of modesty of a women.

Though crime against women is on a rise in all fields being a victim of cybercrime could be most traumatic experience for a woman. Especially in India where the society looks down upon the women, and the law doesn’t even properly recognise cybercrimes. Women have been suffering since very long whether morally or socially, whether its about violence or about her reputation, whether physically or mentally, whether in her own house or outside and the legal structure of India are not yet well equipped to deal with it.

Along with the issue of obscenity has always been a complex one as it involves other related issues like decency and morality. The interests of our contemporary society and particularly the influence of the obscene material in electronic form are at its stage to invoke cyber obscenity.

  • CYBER CRIMES AGAINST WOMEN

Cybercrimes are leading the people towards the another world where technology prevails over the natural laws and orders.While computer technology has opened doors to enhanced conveniences for many, this same technology has also opened new doors for criminals.

The use of cyber technologies is done in carrying out the crime in the natural world that includes offences like- public mischief, hacking, sex tortion , unwarranted mass surveillance, extortion, clone websites, frauds, email spamming ,forgeries, spy, data theft, invade or destroy privacy, unsolicited emails and child pornography as well. We can say that cyber offences are the illegitimate actions, which are carried out in a classy manner where either the computer is the tool or target or both.

Women have been victimised since ages either bound by any social custom or any social innovation that ultimately leads to her destruction. Crimes against women form a crucial part of cybercrimes in India and the online platform is now the new platform where women’s dignity, privacy and security are increasingly being challenged every moment. The faster worldwide connectivity has developed numerous online crimes that specially targets teenage girls and women. It shows how they become soft targets of trolling, online grooming, privacy infringement, bullying, stalking, pornography, obscenity in electronic form, sexual defamation, morphing, spoofing and so on.

The use of  WhatsApp instant messaging , for example, has become, according to some reports, the latest harassment tool of choice in countries like India and Malaysia, and increasingly around the world.

  • CYBERCRIME AGAINST WOMAN IN INDIA

Cybercrime against women is on at alarming stage and it may pose as a major threat to the security of a person as a whole. In India the term “cybercrime against women” includes sexual crimes and sexual abuses on the internet.

India is considered as one of the very few countries to enact IT Act 2000 to combat cybercrimes; This Act widely covers the commercial and economic crimes which is clear from the preamble of the IT Act .Most of the cases related to cyber crime against women reportedto the police comes within the ambit of Section 67 (Publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) of the Information Technology Act 2000 that is very much clear from the following case study.

Dr.L.Prakash v. Superintendent[1] .

 In this case the accused was an orthopedic surgeon forced women to perform sexual acts and later on upload and sale these videos as adult entertainment materials worldwide. He was charged under section 506 (part II of the section which prescribes punishment for criminal intimidation to cause death or grievous hurt), 367 (which deals with kidnapping or abduction for causing death or grievous hurt) and 120-B(criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and Section 67 of Information Technology Act, 2000 (which dealt with obscene publication in the internet). He was sentenced for life imprisonment and a pecuniary fine of Rupees 1, 25,000 under the Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act, 1956.

State of Tamil Nadu v. Suhas Katti[2]

In this case the accused Katti posted obscene, defamatory messages about a divorced woman in the yahoo message group and advertised her as a solicit for sex. This case is considered asone of the first cases to be booked under the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act). He was convicted under section469, 509 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and 67 of the IT Act 2000and was punished for 2 years rigorous imprisonment and fine .Above mentioned cases were considered first time under the ambit of IT Act. Apart from these cases there are few basic cybercrimes that basically happens to the Indian women in the cyberspace such as harassment via e-mail, cyber-stalking, cyber defamation, morphing, email spoofing, hacking, cyber pornography and cyber sexual defamation, cyber flirting and cyber bullying.

  1. Harassment via E-mail

Harassment via email is a form of harassment, which includes blackmailing, threatening, and constant sending of love letters in anonymous names or regular sending of embarrassing gmails to one’s mail box. Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code and select sections of IT Act deal with the protection from cybercrime.

  • Cyber stalking

This is one of the most popular about internet crime in the modern world Cyber stalking can be defined as the repeated acts harassment or threatening behavior of the cyber criminal towards the victim by using the internet services. Stalking in the internet happens when the perpetrator follows the victim continuously by leaving unwanted messages. The motivation of stalkers may be considered less than four reasons,

  • sexual harassment,
  • (ii) obsession for love,
  • (iii) revenge and hate, (
  • iv) ego and power trips. The stalker disturbs their targets through private emails as well as public message. Most of the cases are reported where the target of cyber stalking are women  especially of the age group of 16 to 35.

Ritu Kohli Case

Ritu Kohli Case was India’s first case of cyber stalking, in this case Mrs. Ritu  Kohli complained to police against a person, who was using her identity to chat over the Internet at the website http://www.micro.com/, mostly in Delhi channel for four consecutive days. Mrs. Kohli further complained that the person was chatting on the Net, using her name and giving her address and was talking obscene language. The same person was also deliberately giving her phone number to other chatters encouraging them to call Ritu  Kohli at oddhours. Consequently ,Mrs. Kohli received almost 40 calls in three days mostly on  odd hours. The said call created a havoc in personal life of the complainant consequently IP addresses was traced and police  investigated the entire matter and ultimately arrested the offender. A case was registered under the section 509, of IPC and thereafter he was released on bail. This is first time when a case of cyber stalking was reported. Similar to the case of email harassment, Cyber stalking is not covered by the existing cyber laws in India. It is covered only under the ambit of Section 72 of the IT Act that perpetrator can be booked remotely for breach of confidentiality and privacy. The accused may also be booked under Section 441 of the IPC for criminal trespass and Section 509 of the IPC again for outraging the modesty of women.

  • Cyber defamation

Cyber defamation occurs when with the help of computers and internet someone publishes derogatory or defamatory both genders, but women are more vulnerable. Unfortunately cyber defamation is not defined by the IT Act 2000 and it is Cyber defamation occurs when with the help of computers defaming stories about the victim.

  • Morphing

When unauthorized user with fake identity downloads victim’s pictures and then uploads or reloads them after editing is known as morphing.

  • Email Spoofing

E-mail spoofing is a term used to describe fraudulent email activity in which the sender address and other parts of the email header are altered to appear as though the email originated from a different source. By changing certain properties of the email, such as the From, Return-Path and Reply-To fiel ds, ill intentioned users can make the email appear to be from someone other than the actual sender. Email spoofing is possible because Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), the main protocol used in sending email, does not allow an authentication mechanis

  • Hacking

Hacking means unauthorized access to computer system or network[3], and it is the most predominant form of  cyber crime. It is an invasion into the privacy of data, it mostly happens in asocial online community to demean a woman by changing her whole profile into an obscene, derogatory one.

  • Cyber Pornography

Internet may be considered the facilitator of crimes like cyber pornography; women and children are becoming the main victim of this flip side of technology.

The Air Force Bal Bharati School case (Delhi)[4]

case comes under this category where a student of the School was teased by all his classmates for having a pockmarked face. He, who is tired of the cruel jokes, decided to get back at his tormentors and scanned photograph of his classmates and teachers, morphed them with nude photographs and put them up on a website that he uploaded on to a free webhosting service. The father of one of the class girls featured on the website came to know about this and lodged a complaint with the police.

EXAMPLE , at Mumbai, a Swiss couple gathered slum children and then forced them to appear for obscene photographs, which they took and then uploaded those photographs to websites specially designed for pedophiles. The Mumbai police arrested the couples for pornography[5].Unlike other crimes like Cyber Stalking, Cyber Defamation, Morphing, Email Spoofing, Cyber Pornography is considered an exceptional case which has been covered by the IT Act 2000 to a certain extent by Section 67 of the IT Act 2000

  • Cyber sexual defamation

Cyber sexual defamation happens between real or virtually known people who out of frustration start publishing defaming stories in obscene languages on various social websites subsequently it turns into cyber pornography. The accused can be booked under section 67 and 72 of the IT Act as well as IPCas discussed earlier.

  • Cyber flirting

Generally cyber flirting may be considered very minimal petty offence that starts when perpetrator force the victim to hear obscene songs, messages and it may consequently result in cyber sexual defamation and breach of thrust. Again this can be treatedas the flip side of IT Act that except Section 72 which deals with the breach of confidentiality and privacy there is no other support that can be offered by the Act to the victim.

  1. Cyber bullying

Cyber bullying means the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature[6]. The main aim and objective behind such crime may be to defame the target out of anger, hatred or frustration or secondly when the perpetrator wants to make simple fun of his friends, classmates, juniors or unknown net friends.

United States v Lori drew (2006)[7]

 is one of the examples of cyber bullying. In this case a 13 year old girl got message on Internet, “the world would be better off without you” and took it to her heart. She had not met the person who sent this message but only after twenty minutes she hung herself. The story turned to be more terrific when it found that the person was just a creation of some Lori Drew, who was arrested in 2008 for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act but unfortunately was acquitted in 2009.The social network like Orkut, Facebook can be considered the main source of cyber bullying. But despite of the vulnerability of women net surfers IT Act does not provide some direct protection to the victims

  • INDECENT PORTYAL OF WOMEN: OBSCENITY

An Obscenity is any utterance or act that strongly offends the prevalent morality of the time. Though the term “obscenity” has not any definite meaning but it is somewhere related to indecency, inadequacy and immorality. Cyber Obscenity has not been specified in single terms or in particular respect rather it can be physical remarks, entertainment sources and also can be practiced by way of hacking the profile.  The whole framework of obscenity depends on the concept of morality which is derived from philosophical, abstract and ideal angle with reference to reason and conscience. Morality speaks of a system of behaviour in regards to standards of right or wrong behaviour.

Women have been depicted in the most respectable and aesthetic manner on the one hand and, on the other, they have also been victims of indecent, vulgar and obscene depiction.[8] Obscenity against women arises when in numerous fake ids on Facebook,Instagram has been created which is full of obscene messages and sexual content and where the original photographs  posed in the original profile are morphed and the profile name and information, as well as the morphed photographs, are used to send obscene messages to the victim’s friends or to the general public.

For e.g.-  in Medical science books that may contain intimate illustrations and photographs. Such materials will not be held obscene and will be protected under the right of free speech and expression which says there must be public order, decency and morality in respect of speech and expression.

Maqbool Fida hussain v. Raj Kumar Pandey, 2008[9]

Art is the most important tool of expression but it does not amount to obscenity without something more like the intent and idea behind the expression should not be violative in nature.

 Merely treating with sex an nudity in art and literature cannot be regarded as an evidence of obscenity as it has also been mentioned that the minds of that person must not have any obscene intention. Where obscenity and art are mixed, art must be so preponderating as to throw the obscenity into the shadow or the obscenity so trivial and insignificant that it can have no effect and may be overlooked.[10]

Section 292 of the Indian penal code, which deals worth obscenity, falls within exception – addressing issues implicating public decency and morality- and is therefore constitutional. There is no need  to rob speech and expression of freedom rather a balance must be maintained between freedom of speech and expression and public decency and morality.[11]

The requirements of art and literature include within themselves a comprehensive view of social life and not only in its ideal form and the line is to be drawn where the average moral man begins to feel embarrassed or disgusted at a naked portrayal of life without the redeeming touch of art or genius or social value.[12]

Aveek Sarkar & anr v. State of West Bengal & anr on 3rd February , 2014  SC.[13]

The rising levels of obscenity in the Indian Films, poses threat to the foundation of Indian society and its culture. The ongoing explosion of obscenity in Indian cinema and the increasing public tolerance of unwanted, unwarranted and excessive depiction on the society in general and the Indian youth in particular. The obscenity has to be judged in the context of contemporary social mores, current socio-moral attitude of the community and the prevalent norms of acceptability or susceptibility of the community in relations to matter in issue.\

Samaresh Bose v. Amal Mitra, 1985 4 SCC 289[14]

The judge must use his judicial mind in order to operate the entire facts as he has to judge as an author, what he tries to convey and what his intention and whether it is lascivious or not

Felix v. Gangadharan, 2008, Kerala High court [15]

A picture of a woman in nude or semi nude is not per se obscene unless there is something in it which would offend the taste of a ordinary decent minded person nor even an advertisement is obscene if it has been published in public interest and no immoral or sexual content that  would corrupt the minds of people in general. It is said that what may be obscene to some may be artistic to others. The legal test for obscenity had evolve over  the time to take into account changing societal mores, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest.

‘Obscenity’ should be gauged with respect to contemporary community standards that reflect the sensibilities as well as the tolerance levels of an average reasonable person.[16]

The transcendental jurisdiction of Internet causes the major threat to the society in the form of cybercrime. The main victimof this transgression can be considered women and children. The study shows that we have 52 million active internet users in India which reached at 71 million in the year 2009. Among them working women net users are 8 percent and 7 percent

nonworking women in the year 2009 and 37 percent usage of all users accessing internet through cyber café[17]

The object of the IT Act is crystal clear from its preamble which shows that it was created mainly for enhancing ecommerce hence it covers commercial or financial crimes i.e.

hacking, fraud, and breach of confidentiality etc. but the drafters were unaware about the safety of net users. As we discussed above that majority of cyber crimes are being prosecuted under Section 66 (Hacking), 67(publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form), 72(breach of confidentiality). The most of the cyber crimes other than e- commerce related crime are being dealt with these three sections. Cyber defamation, cyber defamation, email spoofing, cyber sex, hacking and trespassing into one’s privacy is domain is very common nowadays but IT Act is not expressly mentioning them under specific Sections or provisions. Whereas IPC, Criminal Procedure Code and Indian Constitution give special protection to women and children for instance modesty of women is protected underSection 506 and rape, forceful marriage, kidnapping and abortion against the will of the woman are offences and prosecuted under IPC.

  • Sociological reasons

Most of the cyber crimes remain unreported due to the hesitation and shyness of the victim and her fear of defamation of family’s name. Many times she believes that she herself is

responsible for the crime done to her. The women are more susceptible to the danger of cyber crime as the perpetrator’s identity remains anonymous and he may constantly threaten and blackmail the victim with different names and identities. Although the women net surfers are very less in number asmentioned but the other groups targeting them above India,women still do not go to the police to complain against sexual harassment, whether it is in the real world or the virtual world they prefer to shun off the matter as they feel that it may disturb their family life.

The Scheme for Cyber Crime Prevention against Women and Children (CCWC) has been formulated by the Ministry of Home Affairs to have an effective mechanism to handle cybercrimes against women and children in the country.

Components of the CCPWC Scheme

  1. Online Cybercrime reporting Unit
  2. Forensic Unit
  3. Capacity Building Unit
  4. Research & development Unit
  5. Awareness Creation Unit

1.     Online Cybercrime reporting Unit

‘Police’ and ‘Public’ are State subject as per the Constitution of India and States are primarily responsible for prevention, detection and investigation of crime through their law enforcement machinery. The Law Enforcement Agencies take legal action as per the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology Act, 2000 against the cyber fraud offenders.

The Online Cybercrime Reporting Portal is a central citizen portal through which an online cyber-crime complaint can be made by the victims of cyber-crime. It was launched on 20th September 2018 to report complaints pertaining to Child Pornography (CP)/Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) or sexually explicit content.

It will provide a central repository for all such crimes, which will be used for publishing an annual analytical report regarding cyber-crimes, their trends and remedial measures etc. Also, this unit will provide a central repository for reference to law enforcement and regulatory agencies at the national, state and local level for cyber-crime related information. This unit will be responsible for development of an online cyber-crime reporting platform, publishing periodic analytical reports covering trends of cyber-crime, defining process flows for handling online complaints field by citizens and also responsible for assigning such complaints to the appropriate law enforcement agencies based on jurisdiction in the states/ UTs or to any central agency having jurisdiction for criminal investigation.

This unit will work closely with forensic unit for all digital investigations at centre as well as at designated state forensic laboratories.

 

2.     Forensic Unit

Proper collection and preserving of evidence related to cyber-crime and its analysis in line with the provisions of the IT Act and evidence Act is of utmost importance. A national cyber forensic laboratory will operate 24*7*365 basis. It would have all the latest forensic tool setup, which would be accessible to all central /state/ UTs as well as central/ State forensic laboratories as and when needed. This unit will have a team of cyber security professionals to carry out vivid types of electronics forensic analysis and assist the law enforcement agencies in electronic forensic analysis across the country.

This laboratory would carry all deep and advanced level forensic analysis.

3.     Capacity Building Unit

This unit will support capacity building of Central and State Police Forces, Prosecutors, Judicial officers and all other concerned stakeholder for all required capabilities like 3.

This unit will also assist the state/ UTs officials in taking up long term courses to enhance the expertise in this area.

4.     Research and development Unit

In order to develop effective tools to detect obscene and objectionable content in the cyber space, a continuous refining is needed. Hence, there is need to take up research and development activities in partnership with research and academic institutions of national importance.

These initiatives will help in improving the technology readiness and would be prepared to face any type of cyber-crimes. As part of research and development activities multiple Centers of Excellence (COE) will be developed in the country.

 

5.     Awareness Creation Unit

There is need for a well-defined citizen awareness program by the government of India aimed at delivering cyber-crime dos and don’ts as a proactive mitigation initiative.

Awareness about cybercrime and cyber hygiene will be introduced in schools in the early stages of education as a component of school curriculum. These awareness communications will be delivered via a web portal and mobile apps. Through this medium individual will be informed about the various types of cyber-crimes and information on how to securely use technology to protect themselves.

CONCLUSION

The Indian society is predominantly patriarchal in nature, and this is the main reason for women becoming victims of cyber crime. The whole concept of this paper revolves around women where at one point she has been harassed, raped, stalked, eve-teased, molested, blackmailed by obscene messages, pictures, videos and uncountable activities that aims directly towards her and  on other point, she has been worshipped.

The main focus of this paper is to represent the actual framework of the law implementation in respect of women. The internet has become an opening  for sexual communication . The whole scenario of internet and high technology has created another world where the main attraction is the victimised woman.

Internet provides the opportunity to escape from the stress and strains of everyday life.  But why every development leads to destruction of the dignity of a woman on which the existence of society is based upon. The results showed lack of awareness about cyber security transactions and the provision of existing law that exists for cyber crime cause women to be victims of cyber law. The expansion of internet does not only a mean of entertainment as the people usually do whatever attracts their eyes, they want to capture them and gradually it becomes hub of privacy.

Our laws need to be changed to make them cyber-sensitive as well as gender-sensitive. It has to be more reformative and more uniform in nature to make it enforceable. The perspective of the laws should be to ensure dignity of women  and not being in a paternalistic role. There is no need of in numerous provisions to control the excessive depictions rather there should be single comprehensive law covering all aspects of cyber crimes against women and these ITs and IPCs provisions needs to be more coordinated to give a strong impact. Cyber Crime against women needs a holistic approach with change in laws and change in approach  towards the scenario. There needs a balance between development of a society and degradation of its morality on which it has built upon.

India is considered as one of the very few countries to enact IT Act 2000 to combat cybercrimes; This Act is widely covered commercial and economic crimes which is clear from thepreamble of the IT Act but it is observed that there is no specific provision to protect security of women and children.14 However there are few provisions to cover some of the crimes against women in cyber space under IT Act. The model adopted in USA may be proved a step forward in this direction.The law makers and the governments have taken steps and formulated laws but implementation are far away. Though IT Act has provisions regarding punishment for such offences but yet offences have not been controlled. The research on cyber crimes indicates that this form of offences are deterioting humanitarian grounds and it is clearly visible that the main victim is the woman and she suffers over all odds and social norms. This portrays indecent aspects of a woman that completely affecting moral values and ethics.


[1](2008) 3 MLJ (Crl) 578

[2](2004) also available at

http://www.naavi.org/cl_editorial_04/suhas_katti_case.htm

[3]Section 66 of Information Technology Act, 2000

[4]Abhimanyu Behera, “ Cyber Crimes and Law In India,” XXXI,

IJCC 19 (2010)

[5]G. Rathinasabapathy and L. Rajendran, “ Cyber Crimes and

Information Frauds: Emerging Challenges For LIS

Professionals,” Conference on Recent Advances in Science &

Technology ( 2007

[6]According to Oxford Dictionary

[7]Available at http://blog.koldcast.tv/2011/koldcast-news/8-

infamous-cases-of-cyber-bullying/

[8] Mamta Rao. Law Relating to Women and Child (2012) 3rd edition. Eastern Book Company Lucknow, p.  223.

[9] Maqbool Fida hussain v. Raj Kumar Pandey, 2008

[10] Ratanlal & Dhirajlal, The Indian Penal Code, 34th edition, Lexis Nexis, p.  467.

[11] Article 19 (2) of the Indian Constitution.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Aveek Sarkar & anr v. State of West Bengal & anr on 3rd February , 2014  SC.

[14] Samaresh Bose v. Amal Mitra, 1985 4 SCC 289

[15] Felix v. Gangadharan, 2008, Kerala High court

[16] Ratanlal v. Dhirajlal, The Indian penal code, 34th edition , Lexis Nexis, p. 470.

[17]Abhimanyu Behera, “ Cyber Crimes and Law In India,”

XXXI, IJCC 19 (2010)

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

Do follow me on FacebookTwitter  Youtube and Instagram.

The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at adv.aishwaryasandeep@gmail.com

We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.

We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge

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