Violence Against Women In Cyber World: Special Emphasis From Cyber Stalking To Cyber Pornography

Zeeshan Hasan[1] & Arif Majruddin[2]

Abstract

We have grown up in a physical world and spoken English whereas the coming generation is growing up in a digital world, and they are speaking social. Therefore, in the world of digitalization, Internet is one of the most intensively growing sectors. The differences in the world we witness today are not the same world which was before. Internet and its connectivity play an imperative role in each sector of our day to day life. The anonymous expansion of this sector leads to expeditious growth of cybercrime, causing severe cyber security threats where women being a victim of it would be most traumatic experience. This research paper discusses the existence of various cybercrimes against women from cyber stalking to cyber pornography, e-mail spoofing, online harassment and etc. However, various detection and classification methods have come up with different levels of success for prevention and protection. This Paper will discuss several legislations and different methods to prevent the menace of cybercrime. The researcher also makes the comparative analysis of different modes of prevention and attempt to provide a glimpse on cybercrimes against women in Cyber World.

Further, the Research Paper discusses detailed statistical analysis of Cybercrime reports by National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) and their protective measures to counter the ever-increasing cybercrimes against women in India. At last, the conclusion is focused on the transformation required in the legitimate system and options available to the victims of cybercrime against women from cyber pornography to cyber stalking.

Introduction

“It is traumatic to be the victim of any crime, including a cybercrime.” –Dr. Michael Piltaro

In the emerging era of today’s modern world; the internet and its usages are at its peak and have become a vital part of every human’s day to day life. However, being a victim of cybercrime could be one of the most traumatic experiences for women. Cybercrime is a criminal activity committed using computer and internet and it is also known as a computer crime. Professionalism has also gotten a new dimension under the facets of internet as most of the negotiations take place through calls or texts via E-mails, WhatsApp and other sorts of messaging applications. We talk about women empowerment which promotes maximum participation of women in various sectors to make up stronger economies and ameliorate their lives at the same time. But it is sad that the environment women are provided with is fearsome and full of insecurity. We have heard of a number of cases of sexual harassment against women at workplace and now in the present era, sexual abuse is even more prevalent in the cyberspace.

  1. Section 4 addresses and defines cyber stalking and online harassment with full understanding of stalking and its legislations and discusses its method of occurrence. Cyber Pornography and Defamation is also discussed completely with their legislations.
  2. Section 3 discusses about the instances of cybercrime in India where first cyber stalking case of Ritu Kohli is present. Also, Delhi University Law student case has been discussed with giving some views on State v. Atul Ganesh Patil case.
  3. Section 4 discusses about the statistical report of cybercrime in India with view on crime rate in India.
  4. Section 5 discusses about the legislation dealing with cyber stalking and pornography in India with special emphasis on Information Technology Act and Indian Penal Code.
  5. Section 6 will deal with concluding report of cybercrime against women and detail the prevention of cyber stalking.

Modes of Cyber Crime against Women

Cyber Stalking And Online Harassment

As the world is developing at its peak in the field of digitalization, India not only securing the top position with highest internet users but also has aced the statistics of global sexual harassment and cyber stalking cases against women. Women encounter harassment in different modes; cyber stalking and online harassment being two of them. Cyber stalking is an unlawful practice where an individual uses internet or social media to systematically harass or threaten someone. In simple words, it can be better defined as the use of technology, particularly the internet, to stalk or harass someone. Both men as well as women are victimized by cyber stalking although women are the main victims of stalking. Approximately 90% of the cybercrimes are against women.[3]

 This crime is committed not only with a negative intention but often with a strong liking or unsuccessful love relation. Cyber stalking procedure mainly consists of false accusations, threats, monitoring and identity theft, damage to data, equipment or security and sex desire with minor. This crime can be performed through different modes i.e. e-mail, social media, chat rooms, instant message, spamming, flaming and by attacking victim’s computer either with Trojan horse, spyware, posting abusive, defamatory material or any other online medium. Occurrence of Cyber stalking can be in conjunction with various traditional form of stalking; where wrongdoer may harass the victim offline. Cyber stalking is sometimes mentioned as Internet stalking, e-stalking or online stalking and is also a form of cyber bullying.[4]

Cyber Stalking is recorded in three different forms namely e-mail stalking, Internet stalking and computer stalking. E-mail stalking is the most common form of stalking in the physical world where an email is used for threatening by sending viruses, high junk files and abusive content. Computer stalking is another form of stalking where working of Internet and operating system of computer is targeted to victimize. In this situation, activity of a victim is recorded and controlled online. The main reasons behind this are revenge, fascination (one sided love or online romance), harassment, boasting or showoff.

Earlier in India no direct law was present to regulate the matter of cyber stalking. An ordinance was signed on 3rd February 2013 making an amendment in Indian Penal Code (IPC) where stalking either in physical or electronic (call, message, mail, etc.) manner became a criminal offence and became punishable with an imprisonment of up to three years and liable for various fines. Punishment of cyber stalking and online harassment is done under Section 354D, 354A, 354C, 503, 509 and 507 of Indian Penal Code whereas Section 72, 67, 67A, 66A of Information Technology Act 2000 also deal with it.

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A case was recorded in New Delhi where Sharmistha Mukherjee, daughter of Shri. Pranab Mukherjee, was allegedly harassed by a man on Facebook. He posted sexually explicit messages on her Facebook page. Delhi Police identified the case as a cyber stalking case and launched an investigation to catch the culprit. The man was identified as Partha Mandal, resident of Nauhati in Hooghly, West Bengal.[5]

Cyber Pornography

In the world of porn and pornography it is important to note that Indian law nowhere defines the term ‘Pornography’. The term is not statutorily defined even in the United State of America. It is often felt that since there is no uniform standard of moral culture and ethics, there cannot be any fixed/uniform definition of this term. Pornography is often described as hard to define but easy to recognize.[6]

Cyber Pornography can be identified as one of the most heinous cybercrimes in India which is affecting the upcoming new generation of our nation. In simple words, it can be defined as the act of using cyber world to create, display, import, export or to publish obscene material or pornography.[7] Cyber pornography plays an important role in negative social violence against women i.e. in a form of rape, family and relationship breakdown, inequality, youth crime, sexually transmitted diseases and promiscuity. “The sexual exploitation of our children is not only a criminal problem but also a social problem and a human rights problem”.[8] As a matter of much surprise, pornography is the first successful e-commerce product.

Child is the most subtle creation of God which has been the victim of human lust due to its age. Child pornography is better understood as “those images created through the sexual exploitation or abuse of children. Sexual exploitation and abuse include forcible sexual contact and any other sexual activities that is the product of either coercion or lack of consent”.[9]

In India, viewing of cyber pornography is legal and merely downloading of such contents does not amount to an offence whereas online publication of such content is illegal. According to our legislation, storage of cyber pornographic content doesn’t amount to an offence whereas transmission of such pornography through message, mails or any other mode of online transmission is an offence. The involvement of minors in the content of cyber pornography is punishable with an imprisonment of up to 5 years and fine amount of up to Rs. 10lacs.

A case was recorded in New Delhi where a boy of a reputed school made a porn website with an intention of revenge because of having been repeatedly teased by his teachers and classmates. He noted down the names of 12 female classmates and teachers in a sexually explicit manner. He was arrested by the Delhi police and charged under Sec. 67 of I.T Act 2000 and Sec. 292, 293, 294 of Indian Penal Code.[10]

Defamation

“One who steals my purse steals trash, but he that filches from me my good name robes me of that which is not enriches him and make me poor indeed.”[11]

Cyber Defamation can be understood as an online injury to the reputation of a person in front of the nation. This injury can be done either by words (spoken or written), signs or visible representation. Publishing of defamatory material against another person with the help of internet or computer is cyber defamation. Effect of cyber defamation is not only to the individual but to the whole society. The legislation dealing with cyber defamation in India are Sections 499, 469, 503 of Indian Penal Code and Section 66A of Information Technology Act.    

A case was recorded in Mumbai where a 30-year-old man represented himself as a girl in front of a boy in a chat room for approximately 2 years i.e. from 2002 to 2004. The boy went from his house to meet that so-called girl and discovered the truth. The accused man sexually harassed and abused the victim, stole money and beat him up.

Instances of Cyber Crime

Ritu Kohli Case

The first reported case of digital stalking and the reason for amendment to the IT Act was that of a 32 year old woman called Ritu Kohli who got a host of messages from a 30 year old engineer working in Delhi named Manish Kathuria, asking her to either pose in the nude for him or pay Rs 1lac. If she didn’t do the same then he would put her morphed pictures in plain view at sex sites, alongside her phone number and address. Not only this, he also threatened to put her transformed obscene pictures in her neighbourhood to defame her. At first, she didn’t bother about them, yet soon, she began getting letters through post getting similar warnings. He started chatting with people in the name of Ritu Kohli on a website called www.micr.com and shared her phone number and residential address to unknown people. As a result, she received numerous unsolicited phone calls from strangers at odd hours, asking her for sexual favours. She was compelled to report the issue to the police. Her complaint was registered under section 509 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 since at that period of time the IT Act was not amended and did not contain any provisions for such a crime. To her misfortune, the accused had also hacked her g-mail and edited her pictures that she kept in her mail organizer. The accused had also chatted on behalf of her on a chatting portal where he had distributed her phone number to the various chatters. A primary investigation into the case found that the mails were sent to the lady from a digital bistro in South Delhi.[12]

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Delhi University Law Student Case

In 2011, it was reported in The Times of India that a Delhi University law student was charged for the offence of cyber stalking against a woman in Goa. The victim worked in Delhi a year before and became acquainted with the accused there. He asked her to marry him to which she refused and soon moved to Goa. The accused then started stalking her online. He also uploaded her fake profiles on social media networking websites and connected with all her friends. He impersonated the victim and showed her as his wife through her profile. Subsequently, the girl’s marriage was called off. This incident of identity theft posed grave problems to her and her associates.[13]

State v. Atul Ganesh Patil Case

State v. Atul Ganesh Patil is India’s fastest decided Cyber Stalking Case under IPC 354D for sending obscene messages on WhatsApp and talking obscene on phone-call. The facts of the case were that Mr. Atul Ganesh Patil used to work as a Security Guard in a company called “Motherson” which manufactures bumpers of cars and is located in Chakan MIDC near Pune in Maharashtra. The victim was a girl who had come for a job interview and at the entry, had written down her personal mobile number in the entry register. The young guard, who is resident of Yavatmal District and worked in Chakan, copied down the number from register, saved it in his mobile and started sending obscene WhatsApp messages from his mobile phone and even called her to say obscene things, thereby committing the crime of stalking her. The victim blocked this convicted guard on her phone and social media. The desperate guard then started chasing her by sending obscene messages from his friends and known person’s mobile phones. The police then traced all the phones and all those whose phones had been used to commit the offence became witnesses. The judge pronounced the order in an open court awarding a sentence of 2 years along with a fine of rupees 500.[14]

Statistical Report on Cyber Crime

As per the rapid growth of technology and cyber world, the criminal minds are also getting more and more advanced with unique ideas. According to the report of NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau), there is a rapid increase in the percentage of cybercrimes. The reported cybercrimes in 2010 were 1,322 where 966 instances were recorded under Information Technology Act 2000.[15] In India, number of cybercrimes recorded in 2011, 2012 and 2013 were 2213, 3477 and 5693 respectively. [16] The incidents of cybercrimes increased by 20.5% during 2014-15 and 6.3% during 2015-16.[17]

YEARTOTAL REPOTED CRIMECYBER CRIME INSIDENCE (INCLUDING S.L.L, I.P.C & I.T ACT )CRIME UNDER IT ACT,2000CRIME UNDER IPC CRIME.TOTAL PEOPLE ARRESTED
2016483151512317861337047990
2015471067611592804534225102
20144571663962272012272 5752
201366403785693435613373301
20126041559347728766012071
20116252729221317914221630
2010675074813229663561193

In India, the maximum number of cases under cyber-crimes were reported in Uttar Pradesh (2,639 cases) (21.4%) followed by Maharashtra (2,380 cases) (19.3%) and Karnataka (1,101 cases) (8.9%) during 2016. During 2016, 48.6% of cyber-crime cases reported were for illegal gain (5,987 out of 12,317 cases) followed by revenge with 8.6% (1,056 cases) and insult to the modesty of women with 5.6% (686 cases).[18]

There is a massive change in the number of persons arrested per year from 2010 to 2016. The police and IT department are working to give good output and to decrease cybercrime. As seen in table, more than 50% of the accused are being arrested every year. There is decrease in cases registered under representation of false digital signature certificate whereas rates of cases under online harassment and women defamation are increasing rapidly.  

There has been no change in the percentage variation of cybercrime rate against women in India. In spite of having taken major action against accused, cybercrime is increasing at a much faster rate and still forming a meagre percentage of total crime in India. The position becomes more critical when it comes to cybercrime against women. The crimes are registered under IPC, S.L.L and I.T Act.[19]

Legislation Dealing Cybercrime

Harassment and stalking have become dangerous problems in India against women and have become offences. In India, more than 40% of the Internet users are continuously suffering from online harassment. The most common way by which user suffers harassment is social media platform. India has its own legislation named The Information Technology Act, 2000, for dealing with cybercrime offences but unfortunately no provision exists that covers Cyber Stalking. The first amendment of Information Technology Act in 2008 added a new provision with section 66A describing Cyber Stalking as an offence.

Section 66A of Information Technology Act describes Cyber Stalking as intentional sending of offensive message through communication services or social media either to defame or harass which is a crime and provides with a punishment of imprisonment up to three years and fine or both. Message may be in any form like audio, video, text or image etc. to defame.

As Information Technology Act was not enough to deal with cyber stalking; the support of Indian Penal Code (IPC) was taken. There is no direct law dealing with Cyber stalking in the Indian Penal Code but sections 354D, 505 and 509 deal with the matter of stalking.

  1. Section 354Dof Indian Penal Code defines stalking and talks about the wrong behaviour of man like monitoring the activity of women in social media or on internet or in any other electronic form.   
  2. Section 505of Indian Penal Code deals with the matter of publishing or circulation of offensive material or rumours with an intention to cause harm.
  3. Section 509explains the modesty of the women which means that whoever makes sound, word, gesture or any wrongful act intentionally for outraging the modesty of a woman, shall be punished with an imprisonment up to one year and with fine or both.
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Cyber Pornography in legal terms is simply defined to mean displaying, creating, importing, and exporting or publishing any obscene material. In India, no such particular law is present which prohibits access to pornography. Section 66A of Information Technology Act deals the matter of Cyber Pornography.

Section 66A talks about the punishment for sending any offensive message through social media or communication services. Wrongdoers committing this offence will be punished by imprisonment of up to 3 years and fine of up to Rs. 5lacs or both. 

Child Pornography is completely banned in India, neither its viewing nor its sharing is allowed. Wrongdoer committing this is punishable with an imprisonment of up to 7 years and fine up to Rs. 10lacs or both.

In the year 2015, Department of Telecom asked Internet Service Providers to ban 857 porn website and stated the reason that porn encourages sex crimes such as rape, rape of minor, etc. but due to lot of authorities and criticism, Department of Telecom was not able to succeed. Now, again in 2018, Uttarakhand High Court banned and directed the Centre to ban 827 websites and advocated that porn website encourages sex and cited an example of Dehradun where an 11-year-old girl was raped by four senior students and the accused revealed to the police that they were watching porn before the offence. 

ACTSECTIONOFFENCE
        Information Technology Act66APunishment for Sending Offensive Message Through Communication Service Etc.
66EPunishment for Violation of Privacy.
67Publishing of Information Which Is Obscene in Electric Form.
67APublishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act, etc. in electronic form.
67BElectronic publishing or transmission of material in form that depicts children in obscene or indecent or sexually explicit manner.
  Indian Penal Code354DMonitoring the activity of women in Internet, email or other form of electronic Communication.
505Punishment for publishing or circulation of offensive material online.
509Modesty of the women: Stalking

Concluding Remarks

The world is really moving at a fast pace and the advancements in the field of technology have brought to us several boons but along with its favours, it lays down on us a responsibility to keep a check on its abuse just like the Constitution demands fundamental duties from every individual bestowed with fundamental rights. Cyber space offers a plethora of opportunities for cyber criminals to accomplish crimes and fulfil their motive. Indian women are still not open to immediately reporting cyber abuse or cybercrime. The biggest problem of cybercrime lies in the modus operandi as the culprit remains anonymous. Cyber space is a transit space for many people, including offenders. While people do not live physically in cyber space, they come and exit like any other place. This nature provides the offenders with the chance to escape after the commission of cybercrime. Most of the cybercrimes remain unreported due to the hesitation and shyness of the victim and her fear of defamation of her family’s name. Many a times she believes that she herself is responsible for the crime done against her. The women are more susceptible to the danger of cybercrimes as the perpetrator’s identity remains anonymous and he may constantly threaten and blackmail the victim with different names and identities. Women still do not go to the police to complain against sexual harassment, whether it is in the real world or the virtual world as they prefer to shun off the matter, feeling it may disturb her family life. The society often claims that it is unsafe for women to step out in the dark after midnight, so now when a girl can even be stalked while remaining indoors under the roof of her house, can it claim the same? Or the society would want to say that girls should stay away from the cyber arena in order to avoid such harm? That would again be an injustice against women, since both men and women have equal rights to access the internet. The right is enforced but what about the protection? Are then these rights completely fulfilled? The need of the hour isn’t avoidance but action. The government should formulate a separate law for the crime of cyber stalking and it should be effectively implemented to ensure the safety of women. The laws should be stringent enough to create a fear in the mind of the criminal that prevents him from ruining a woman’s life.


[1] Faculty of Law, Jamia Millia Islamia (New Delhi)

[2] Faculty of Law, Jamia Millia Islamia (New Delhi

[3] Aravinath Balakrishnan, Cyber Stalking: Challenges in regulating cyberstalking at the cyber space, legal service india, (Feb 17, 2019, 03:33A.M),http://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-214-cyber-stalking-challenges-in-regulating-cyberstalking-at-the-cyber-space.html.

[4] Kate Kindelan, UCF Cyber Stalker’s Sentence Not Harsh Enough. Victim says, ABC News Jan 23, 2012.

[5] Rashmi Mann, President Mukherjee’s Daughter Faces Online Harassment, Shames Man on Facebook, NDTV (Feb 17, 2019, 03:33A.M), https://www.ndtv .com/india-news/president-mukherjees-daughter-faces-harassment-puts-up-texts-on-facebook-1443834.

[6] Shodh Ganga, Pornography and internet, (Feb 17, 2019, 03:33 A.M), http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/58938/9/09_chapter%204.pdf.

[7] Ramanuj, Cyber Pornography Law in India- The Grey law decoded, IPLEADERS (Feb 17, 2019, 03:33a.m), https://blog.ipleaders.in/cyber-pornography-law-india/.

[8] Richard J. Durbin, In Our Own Backyard: Child Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the United State: Hearing Before the Subcommitte on Human Rights and  the Law of  the Committee on the Judiciary (November 19. 2019) https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CHRG-111shrg58003/pdf/CHRG-111shrg58003.pdf.

[9] Carissa Byrne Hessick, The Limits of Child Pornography, I437 INDIANA LAW JOURNAL, I45I (2014).

[10] Vishwanath Paranjape, Legal dimensions of cybercrimes and preventive laws 33 (1st ed. Central law agency, allahabad, 2010).

[11] William Shakespeare, Through I ago in Othello ACT 3, SCENE 3, 155-61(1564-1616).

[12] Indian Forensic, Cyber Stalking”, indian forensic (Feb 25, 2019, 08:33 A.M), https://indiaforensic.com/cyberstalking.html.

[13] Neeraj Chauhan, DU Law student charged with cyber stalking, times of india (Feb 19, 2019, 05:30 A.M), https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/DU-law-student-charged-with-cyberstalking/articleshow/8917937.cms.

[14] Prashant Mali, Cyber Security, blogspot, (Feb 25, 2019, 09:33 A.M),http://cyberlawconsulting.blogspot.com/2017/01/cyber-stalking-354d-case-law.html.

[15] NCRB, National Cyber Crime Record Burea Ministry of Home Affairs, (Feb 25, 2019, 11:33 A.M), http://ncrb.gov.in/StatPublications/CII/CII2010/Statistics2010.pdf.

[16] NCRB, National Cyber Crime Record Burea Ministry of Home Affairs, (Feb 25, 2019, 11:33 A.M),http://ncrb.gov.in/StatPublications/CII/CII2013/Statistics-2013.pdf.

[17] NCRB, National Cyber Crime Record Burea Ministry of Home Affairs, (Feb 25, 2019, 11:33 A.M),http://ncrb.gov.in/StatPublications/CII/PrevPublications.htm.

[18] NCRB, National Cyber Crime Record Burea Ministry of Home Affairs, (Feb 25, 2019, 11:33 A.M ), http://ncrb.gov.in/StatPublications/CII/CII2016/pdfs/Crime%20Statistics%20-%202016.pdf.

[19] Molly Ghosh, Introspecting the Gaps between Cyber Crimes against Women and Laws: A Study of West Bengal, IT FORCHANGE, (Feb 20, 2019, 01:43 A.M)https://itforchange.net/e-vaw/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Molly_Ghosh.pdf.