WOMEN EASY VICTIMS… With the misuse of technology and highly skilled hackers, it is difficult to trace cyber criminals, but there are several ways in which women can be safe.

By Asma Torgal

Every individual has a right to feel safe on social or virtual media which is repeadly becoming a hot bed of different kinds of cyber crimes, women need to learn how to protect themselves…

What is cybercrime? Cybercrime involves any criminal pursuit act through a computer or network. It harms someone’s security, reputation and finances. It seems like in the modern age of technology, hackers are taking over our systems and no one is safe. The Economist Intelligence Unit study stated that 85% of women worldwide have experienced online violence.
In India, according to National Crimes Records Bureau, between 2018 and 2020 cases lodged for publishing sexually explicit content increased 110%, hiked to 6,308 from 3,076. The world has changed dramatically in the last decade. Today we’re constantly connected – whether it is through text messaging, apps, social media, online games or emails. This makes us vulnerable to thieves and criminals thieves who know how to hack accounts and take advantage of it.
If you use smartphones and are on social media platforms then you need to ask yourself these questions:
• Do I have privacy settings on my accounts?
• Is my anti-virus software updated?
• Will sending my private pictures or online dating be unsafe?
These questions have to be considered seriously as the criminal’s precise modus operandi leads to cyber harassment through email, text messaging and social media. It might lead to trolling, rumours, duping, blackmailing, phishing, voyeurism and much more. There are cases when the consequences lead to young and not so young women taking extreme measures, including committing suicide – these cyber predators threat to leak explicit photos or videos taken of the women whom they have conned into friendship.
Bimini Ganesh, a small town man, was arrested by the district police for allegedly recording naked videos of girls and blackmailing them. He used to swindle girls and collect money from them under the threat of posting their obscene videos on social media. In another incident, the Ahmedabad cyber crime team arrested an accused named Ajay, who was constantly stalking a woman. The woman said Ajay morphed her pictures and threatened to post them online if she didn’t meet him. He persistently started forcing her to meet him although she had told him she was already dating someone else. Ajay got furious and said he would drink acid if she ever got engaged to somebody else.
Cyberstalking, phishing, doxxing, sextortion, grooming — lead to a menacing form of extortion when there comes a time when women feel so mentally drained, guilty and ashamed, that they even fear asking for legal help. The main fears are to do with the perpetrators threatening to release intimate photographs and videos. A few criminals are smart and only use their power to play the bluff game on victims because they know that if they upload anything online — they may get into trouble. Some psycho perpetrators enjoy the prospect of seeing women vulnerable and miserable and requesting them constantly to stop the games.

CYBERCRIMES have reached near catastrophic proportion even in our urban Indian society and although there is a criminal justice system in place. With the misuse of technology and highly skilled hackers, it is difficult to trace these cyber criminals. Nevertheless, we can still combatting cybercrime by knowing the cyber laws. Little precautions will save you millions.
Here are a few tips for cyber safety:

  1. Keep personal information limited. Don’t share intimate messages, pictures or anything which may come back to embarrass you.
  2. Never exchange old mobile phones with new ones as data within it can be misused to harass the phone owner or commit other crimes, including phishing.
  3. Don’t leave your webcam connected.
  4. If you are on dating apps avoid meeting anyone alone for a couple of times.
  5. Update all operating systems on your devices and secure your devices with anti-virus software
  6. While agreeing to cookies read the privacy policy and terms of service. Some websites can sell, rent or own your information, to anyone they want. In such cases, the law may not be able to protect you since you may have unwittingly agreed to the terms and conditions.
  7. Refrain from opening unknown number messages, clicking pop-up windows or verification calls which may ask you to confirm your personal information including OTP, debit card, etcetera. Be on your guard always.

ACCORDING to reports it is rare for women victims to report a matter to the police or file a complaint. They only seek help if the issue blows up and threatens their safety or their family’s safety. There is also a fear of being judged wrongly by those from whom they may seek help. The investigative procedure is long and police may not put in much effort to collect evidence. If the police investigating the case are not properly trained then the case is not built strongly and often closed to easily.

But there are legal provisions and punishments in the eyes of the law:
— Women can approach the State or National Commission for Women directly online as these bodies have become proactive in dealing with such cases.
—After the complaint is registered with the police, the complainant should keep a copy and can even approach the local courts directly.
—Voyeurism under section 354C of the Indian Penal Code can be used by women in such cases.
— Section 503 (criminal intimidation) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended at insulting the modesty of a woman) can also be invoked.
— Provisions for breaching the privacy of an individual under section 66E of the Information Technology Act apply to men and women.

ONE of the biggest factors that affects a victim is the issue of morality and peace of mind. Fear, shame and the fact that society will judge and condemn a victim creates a lot of apprehensions. Those who suffer may become anti-social, delete their social media accounts and go into isolation which is not conducive to their wellbeing.
It’s an unfair society we live in which tends ot ignore and pardon male misdemeanours. In a bizarre incident, a man morphed his cousin sister’s Instagram profile picture into obscene images and started circulating them, but when family and relatives found out they did not get as angry with the offender as much as they did with the girl!
However, restricting or blaming women, cannot stop the evils of cybercrimes. It may even cut off access to help and online reporting mechanisms too. It is important to spread awareness and tell people about the dangers of online miscreants.
If a minor or adult is the victim of cyber exploitation and cybercrimes, family support as well as others in society must stand by them. This is very important:
— Firstly, they must trust the victim and assure her that it was not her mistake.
— They must support her in any activity she wants to take.
—Help the victim to deal with trauma with counselling and strengthen her self-worth.
— Persuade her that she is not alone and it can happen to anyone, regardless of age or circumstances.

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