An essay on "Cybercrime against women - an analysis of women victimization" comprehensively demonstrates cybercrimes against Indian women and analyzes the laws that have been put in place to safeguard them.

An essay on "Cybercrime against women - an analysis of women victimization" by Jahnabi Chakravarty comprehensively demonstrates cybercrimes against Indian women and analyzes the laws that have been put in place to safeguard them. Crimes against women are rising along with society's modernization. The widespread usage of computers and smartphones has led to an increase in cybercrime. This article discusses cybercrime, categories of cybercrimes, defences against cyberattacks, and Indian laws that deal with offences involving the abuse of computers or other electronic equipment. To protect women's online privacy and related interests the laws, suggestions, guidelines, and other regulatory tools are briefly explored. The author discusses the most prevalent types of cybercrime against women that happened in India.

Introduction

In the digital age, information and communication technologies are bridging gaps and boosting human potential across all facets of life for billions of people all over the world. Through digital channels, the general people have become more technologically savvy, which has reduced the entire world to the size of a tiny home. With the growth of social media, digital technology has made it feasible for people to have unrestricted access to a variety of services that they would otherwise consider to be unattainable. There is no denying that new technologies increase productivity, yet the widespread use of excessive information technology has exposed individuals to a wide range of crimes specifically cybercrimes.

Cybercrime is the term for a digital offence that involves a computer, a networked device, or a network. It has become simpler for thieves to target their potential victims because many individuals spend hours devoted to social media on their cell phones, tablets, laptops, PCs, etc. It has been widened to encompass actions like breaching the law online, participating in illicit behaviour online, contaminating the internet, committing crimes online, interfering with business processes using harmful software online, etc.

Cybercrime has a detrimental effect on Indian society. Women were venerated as 'sacred beings' in Indian society. Even still, there are increasing numbers of crimes against women committed online every day. Cyberstalking, cyberpornography, catfishing, hijacking webcams, morphing, cyberdefamation, and email spoofing are some of the cybercrimes against women that are on the rise. Social networking sites are mostly to blame for the rise in cybercrimes against women. Women are more at risk from cybercrime.

Types of cybercrimes

Cybercrimes come in many forms, some of which include:

1. Cyber defamation

2. Cyber Stalking

3. Voyeurism

4. Morphing

5. Cyber Pornography

6. Cyber Bullying

7. Cat fishing etc.

Cyberbullying is the term for internet bullying. All of these platforms—social media, chat services, gaming platforms, and mobile devices—can be used. It is a pattern of behaviour intended to alarm, enrage, or humiliate the targeted ladies. These criminal offences are third in the globe. Many women experience cyberbullying, particularly in India.

Cyberstalking refers to the persistent use of technology to harass someone. These cover a broad variety of problems, such as email harassment, defamation, identity theft, erroneous claims, sexual attraction, etc. The victim's computer is invaded by stalkers who use malware-infected files posing a major risk to the victim's personal safety. In recent years, cyberstalking has raised serious concerns about the safety of women.

Cyberpornography would include pornographic websites, printed materials produced using computers, and the Internet (to download/transmit pornographic pictures, photos, writings, etc). Revenge porn or vengeance pornography is the broadcast of sexually explicit images or videos of someone in an effort to defame them and ruin their reputations without the subject's knowledge or consent.

Cyber defamation occurs when libel is disseminated online or via the use of computers. For instance, someone may post fake information about someone on a website or distribute false information via emails to all of that person's friends.

Images of women are morphed to market pornographic and sex chat merchandise. Images of women are changed and displayed on numerous porn websites without the woman's consent. This strategy is mostly used by cybercriminals to extort money from their victims.

Voyeurism is the obsession with witnessing unknowing people undress, go naked, or perform sexual acts. The IPC defines sexual harassment as transmitting pornographic material (pictures, photos, videos, or texts) to a woman via social media. Transmitting or showing pornographic information to a woman without her consent is considered sexual harassment, according to Section 354A of the IPC. If the lady gave permission for the photographs to be taken but not for these private images to be placed online, it is a crime punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison and a fine, and the perpetrator may get a 3-year jail term, a fine, or both.

Catfishing establishes a fake social media account and frequently targets a single victim for exploitation, deceit, fraud, and other advantages. Creating a fake social media account in someone else's name or impersonating someone else to harass someone. Romance fraud on dating websites regularly employs catfishing for financial gain.

Everyone was stunned when Muslim ladies were recently auctioned off on the "Sulli Deals" and "Bulli Bai" apps. Even some people use the "Clubhouse" app for similar chats; they insult women and talk about buying and selling their body parts. We should all share responsibility for making sure that women are never again sold at auction or disrespected.

Preventive measures against cybercrimes

Criminals can enrage one by extorting them into disclosing their personal videos or images. Therefore, in the event of online stalking, report it right away to the police. The longer this continues, the higher the danger is. Don't undervalue cyberstalking even if it is not a physical assault. An internet user with experience may easily find the victim's phone number and other information. If one notices any of the following odd occurrences: Someone is often browsing his/her profile throughout the day or week, if someone harasses through emails, threatens, intimidates, or blackmails.

Women should use privacy settings for everyone besides friends and family when using social media. They should verify a person's identity before adding them as a friend, when not in use, remember to turn off the GPS service. If an internet friend asks for a private image or video, keep it a secret from him. If someone continually comments badly on shared videos or photographs, they should be blocked immediately. Calling the police, keeping an eye out for online buddies, trying not to broadcast your location, taking into account the opposing side's strange behaviour, and filing a report should be the top priorities if the disruption continues.

Cybercrime victims may suffer from severe dejection and anxiety attacks since they are often ignorant individuals who are unfamiliar with the complexity of the digital world. A mistreated woman has inner turmoil that causes extreme emotional suffering. A victim of cyberbullying could become anxious and lose interest in hobbies. Depression bouts that follow a cyberbullying incidence might affect one's appetite, sleep patterns, and level of activity. Victims must seek out a psychiatrist as soon as possible if this occurs.

The online world may be made safer and more secure by implementing steps to educate women about cyber security, shielding them from unidentified cyber invaders. Policymakers should establish a rule requiring website designers to be responsible for ensuring software safety. If a woman finds evidence of cybercrime, she should contact the police station or cyber cell. The National Cybercrime Reporting System is another way to file a complaint. Making a claim of cybercrime requires a few recorded proofs, such as a soft copy or hard copy of an offensive website or email, sender information, and a networking system access mechanism. Always be on the lookout for emails or texts that are unnecessary or fake, never respond to emails requesting personal information, stay away from phony applications and websites that request personal information, keep track of one's password and email address, and make sure their passwords are secure and robust and change them frequently.

Most importantly, stay away from downloading unknown programs and visiting strange URLs. Women should stay informed about online rules and policies. Never respond to emails that ask for personal information, and be aware of phony websites that steal data. The greatest method to maintain personal safety online is to avoid sharing personal information, becoming online friends with dubious individuals and clicking on shady websites.

Cybercrime laws in India

Technological progress has quickened with the development of computers, tablets, smartphones, and other devices. Technology has improved our way of living as well as our comfort. However, its malicious nature of it cannot be ignored. As of June 2016, the UN Human Rights Council declared that the right to access the internet freely is now a basic human right. According to the NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau), India experienced a spike in cybercrimes against women between 2018 and 2020, with charges filed for posting sexually explicit information online rising by 110% to 6308 from 3076. The overall number of cybercrimes grew from 2019 to 2021 by 18.4%, and incidences impacting women surged at a rate of 28.4%. The information shows that crimes against women accounted for 10,730 events, or 20.2%, of the 52,974 incidents noted in 2021. The protection of women has always been a concern, particularly in countries like India where the number of crimes against women is surging like a coconut tree.

According to the Indian Constitution's Seventh Schedule, the State is responsible for maintaining law and order and "Police". The States and Union Territories are primarily responsible for preventing, detecting, investigating, and sentencing perpetrators of all crimes, including cybercrime. The Central Government aids the State Governments in their operations by providing various consultancy services and financial incentives for capacity building. They have developed a variety of policies and measures in order to stop crimes against women on online platforms, protect them, and make sure that the Internet is safe, trustworthy, and accountable.

Understanding the gravity of the widespread misuse of various IT mediums and the situation the Government of India has introduced the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre Scheme or I4C Scheme to deal with cybercrimes committed through social media. Launched by the Union Home Ministry, the scheme aims to increase public awareness in various aspects such as cybercrime eradication, development of awareness products, development of portals for cyber coordination, etc. Meanwhile, a Twitter handle @CyberDost has already been launched to help victims of cybercrime as part of this pro-people campaign.

The major objective is for people to be aware of the law and regulations which symbolize India's stance against such crimes. The IT Act 2000 by India is one of the relatively few nations, to combat cybercrime; yet, several concerns pertaining to women are still not included in this Act. Section 65 addresses computer system hacking, Section 66 prohibits the electronic publication of pornographic material, and Section 67 addresses access to protected systems. Violations of secrecy and privacy are prohibited by Section 70.

The following activities are considered offences under section 354 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC, 1860), which carries stiff penalties like lengthy prison sentences and high fines :

1. Section 354A: Those who demand sexual favours, display objectionable photographs without a woman's agreement, make sexual remarks, harass a woman in a sexual manner, or participate in any of these actions face fines and possible 3-year jail.

2. Section 354C: A violation of this section results in a 3- to 7-year jail sentence if a woman is photographed or has a picture of her that depicts her engaging in a private act without her consent.

3. Section 354D: Contacting a woman online and sending pointless emails or messages to someone who is obviously uninterested in her is punishable by up to five years in jail and a fine.

The reporting of cyberattacks and the prosecution of those responsible may be done under a variety of additional laws aside from the particular modifications to the Code. Among them are the following:

1. Section 499: When done with the intention of damaging the woman's reputation, defamation through the publishing an instantaneous and clear portrayal of imputation is punishable by up to two years in jail, a fine, or both.

2. Section 503: Threats to ruin someone's reputation—either to make her fear or to force her to do what she ordinarily does or does not—are considered illegal intimidation under of the Criminal Code. It is possible to include the conduct of cyber-blackmailing a person, as was done in the aforementioned case, under the purview of this statute.

3. Section 507: The maximum punishment for criminal intimidation committed by someone whose name the victim does not know is outlined in. This clause prescribes penalties for any anonymous communication that constitutes criminal intimidation in violation of Section 503 of the prior legislation.

4. Section 509: Anyone who violates a woman's privacy or insults her modesty by speaking, gesturing, or showing something to her with the intent that she hears it or sees it may be charged and punished with up to 3 years in prison and a fine.

Additionally, there are provisions for penalties under the following parts of the Information Technology Act of 2000 (Amended in 2008) :

1. Section 66C: It talks about Cyber hacking, a violation of which is punished by up to a three-year jail sentence and a one-lakh rupee fine.

2. Section 66E: When women are photographed, published, or sent in ways that violate their privacy, it is illegal. The penalty is three years in jail.

3. Section 67: For publishing, sending, or causing the spread of pornographic content, it carries fines and jail sentences of up to 3 years for first offences and 5 years for second offences.

4. Section 67A: Publishing and sending sexually explicit material is prohibited, which carries a maximum of 5- to 7-year jail sentence.

The Cyber Crime Prevention Act of 2012 is a federal law that aims to deter and prosecute those who violate people's rights to privacy, confidentiality, and informational integrity online. The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act governs and outlaws the indecent portrayal of women in the media and in publications, which includes audio-visual media, electronic content, material that is distributed online, and women who are portrayed in such media. However, as of July 2021, this Bill has been withdrawn.

The Central Government has taken the following actions in order to create a comprehensive and coordinated system to stop cybercrime against women after consulting with various stakeholders :

1. The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Code of Digital Media Ethics) Rules, 2001 provided intermediary users greater power and gave social media sites responsible for their safety. These rules require arbitrators to develop effective grievance processes over time.

2. The government created the Cyber Crime Coordination Centre within the Ministry of Home Affairs in order to effectively and strategically tackle cybercrime. These centres will provide the assistance needed by law enforcement.

3. With money from the Nirbhaya Fund, the government has begun a campaign to lower cyber crimes against women and children. It coordinates awareness-building initiatives and provides guidance on cybercrime.

4. This initiative has developed a National Cybercrime Reporting Portal (www.cybercrime.gov.in) where anyone may file complaints if they have been a victim of cybercrime. This portal gives special attention to internet crimes against women and children.

5. A toll-free hotline, 1930 (formerly 155260), has been established for reporting online cyber concerns, timing 9 A.M. to 6 P.M.

6. Through information security education and awareness programs, efforts are being undertaken to increase public understanding of cyber security. For this reason, a dedicated website (https://www.infosecawareness.in) has been launched.

7. All Internet service providers are required by the Department of Telecommunications to run customer awareness programs.

The federal government has provided financing to state and union territory cyber forensic training facilities to address cybercrime against women. The people must take the appropriate steps to protect themselves from various cyber criminals, notwithstanding the government's commendable efforts. Women in India sometimes refrain from speaking up out of concern for irreparable harm to their reputations but they should be particularly vigilant to guard against targeted cyberattacks.

Suggestions for preventive measures

The severity of the penalty for the majority of cyber offences, which was reduced by the IT (Amendment) Act of 2008, has to be fixed. The bulk of cybercrimes must become felonies with no possibility of bail. A comprehensive data protection mechanism must be established for the law to be more effective. Parts of Section 66A of the IT Act go beyond what the Indian Constitution judges to be acceptable restrictions on the right to free speech and expression. These must be removed for the clauses to be legally enforceable.

To exchange information on cybercrime, the government should work to forge bilateral connections with other countries. We do need improved police infrastructure, more specialized cyber cells, more police stations, frequent training, and ongoing engagement with cyber professionals. Forensic laboratories' capacity should be strengthened.

States must provide comparable resources for their forensic unit given the seriousness of the situation. It would be beneficial to have quick cybercrime trials. We need improved police facilities, more specialized cyber cells and police stations, regular training, and constant collaboration with cyber specialists. Effective legislation that may address concerns of cybercrime against women and can provide for deserving consequences for offenders should be created, according to the Indian legal system and justice delivery system, through necessary revisions to the current statutes. Fast and efficient justice delivery is essential.

Conclusion

In today's digital age, using the internet for social, recreational, professional, or educational purposes has become more common. The likelihood of being a victim of cybercrime rises as more individuals use virtual worlds; this is especially true for women, who are frequently viewed as easy targets. For women, cybercrime causes tremendous emotional suffering. For women to use the internet safely and securely, there has to be a campaign to increase knowledge of cyber safety and security. In conclusion, while a society free from crime is an impossible ideal, an ongoing attempt should be made to implement laws that severely curtail crime. Legislators must take extraordinary measures to thwart impostors since electronic crime is guaranteed to increase, especially in a society where technology is used more and more. It takes swift reporting of cybercrime by citizens, technically skilled police investigation backed by forensics, and prompt resolution of court cases to apprehend cybercriminals who are terrorizing people, especially women, in both the virtual and physical worlds.

References

1. Dr. Manika Jain, Victimization Of Women Beneath Cyberspace In Indian Upbringing, Available Here

2. Abhinav Sharma & Ajay Singh, Cyber Crimes against Women: A Gloomy Outlook of Technological Advancement, Available Here

3. How to control cybercrime against women, civilsdaily.com, Available Here

4. National cybercrime reporting portal, Available Here

5. Cyber Crime In India: Are Women A Soft Target, Available Here

References

Law Library: Notes and Study Material for LLB, LLM, Judiciary, and Entrance Exams

Law Aspirants: Ultimate Test Prep Destination

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Jahnabi Chakravarty

Jahnabi Chakravarty

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