CYBERCRIME AGAINST WOMEN IN MODERN INDIA: A LEGISLATIVE AND REFORMATIVE ANALYSIS
AUTHORED BY- ANNU KUNDU
Geeta Institute Of Law
India is considered the oldest civilization where women are given the highest status, the status of “God”. In this world of modernization, globalization and digitalization, there is a section of society which is adversely affected by this shooting growth. This section is about the women who are unlooked and vulnerable and are seen as a victim of major crimes but being a victim even of cybercrime can be a lot more traumatising than can be thought of. This gives a major sense of insecurity in both the physical and virtual world, i.e to say, no place with a sense of security and privacy. In this paper, the author intends to attract attention towards the types of cybercrime recognised by the law drafted for the betterment of society. The paper also considers how that same law fails to recognise the weaker section and is the biggest prey of such cybercrimes. The author focuses on what factors result in an increase in various numbers of cybercrimes mentioned by our esteem law. This research paper suggests a few initiatives that can be taken by judiciary and police authorities, like boosting themselves up with modern web applications so that they can be a step ahead of the perpetrators and many more. This paper concludes by stating the loopholes present in our legislative framework, including in the Indian Penal Code, 1860, Indian Evidence Act, 1872, and Information Technology Act, 2000, and suggests measures that can be taken to curb such leakages.
During ancient times women were given very high status, high place of respect. She was seen with dignity and considered as Goddess. All the glories of women are mentioned in our Vedas, where every woman was given the status of “Mata” and every other girl was seen as sister. Even it was male dominating society still protection of women and her dignity was given utmost importance and the best example of it is “Ramayana” where a male, a king left the kingdom to follow orders of her “Mata” and other prominent example is “Mahabharata” where the whole battle was fought to give justice to one lady “Draupadi”.
With change in scenario came changes in culture. Now the same woman who was seen with respect is seen with devil eyes. Now fights do happen but not for the protection of women but for the beauty of women. The best example of this time is the era “Johar”, era where queen Padmavati was forced to burn herself in fire with thousands of innocent lady just to protect their dignity and body.
The wheel of time rotated again and we welcomed a different era. Women became the biggest prey in hands of the society. She is now ill-treated. She is not just not robbed of her dignity and pride inside her house but also faces ill treatment outside the four walls of her so labelled “comfort zone”. Now men don’t go to fight battles by taking their swords or bow and arrow in their hands, but they fight by taking their cameras and laptops in their hands. They stalk woman online, passes abusive comments, hinder in their personal space, leak out their privacy and make money. The so called Law, the protector of the society is also failing to shield the then called “goddess”. This new Digitalisation is called “Modernisation”.
Digital India is the jest of many innovations and technical growth. All the present population is using internet and raising the number or cons than pros. Cybercrime and internet bullying criminals are not afraid of being caught or penalised. In this cyber world people can hide under blankets given by Internet only, making situation worse for us. Crime or an offence is "a legal wrong that can be followed by criminal proceedings which may result into punishment". Crime, in whatever manner it is, it directly or indirectly, always affects the society. Due to the continuance increase in the use of internet numbers of new crimes have emerged and those crimes are termed as cybercrimes. These crimes may target any group of society, but women are the most targeted group. In Indian society women are the real victim of cybercrimes.
II. INTERPRETATION OF THE WORD “CYBERCRIME”
Crime means an offence which is wrong morally, ethically and lawfully. Anything which is against the law is called crime. Irony is that this definition has nowhere been provided or explained by the law but the entire law system revolves around this word, the laws are made to protect people from this word “crime”.
Cyber on the other hand means: Digital. Anything which is via online mode is called cyber. Thus, cybercrime means any crime which is committed by the use of internet. Again, this word is nowhere full-fledged defined but has been used multiple times in laws like Indian Penal Code, Information Technology Act etc. thus, any act or omission which is against the law, breaches the rule of laws and states done using internet are termed as cybercrimes.
Digitalisation came with the motive of uplifting the economy and making life easier but every coin has two sides. This digitalisation has in many terms benefited the society but has also worked against women in various sectors also. Cyberspace has become an easy way to hide for criminals by wearing the blanket given by this internet. They hide themselves behind fake ids, commit the crime and find an easy escape. The easy targets are people with less technical knowledge and the women. The hackers hack the ids and copy all the data present in other party’s system. Some do it for thrill while others actually commit a scam. They infect computer system by sending computer viruses and leak out all the high end sensitive information. This is how they manage to take control of women’s ids too, thus resulting in manipulating them and harassing them either for sexual pleasure or for monetary benefits.
Since the beginning of time, women have consistently been the victims of crimes. According to numerous studies and publications, the graph of crimes done against women specifically over the past 70 years of freedom has consistently been in upward order. These crimes include the Sati System, dowry, cruelty, domestic violence, rape, and many others. Comparatively speaking, cybercrime against women consists of offences done against women using technological devices.
III. SPECIES OF CYBERCRIME PREVALENT AGAINST WOMEN CATEGORISED BY NATIONAL CRIMES RECORD BUREAU
Practically, due to lack of equipment’s we are far behind in controlling cybercrimes. Every so often, different forms of cybercrime are developed because of advancement of technology, cyber experts and criminals.
According to National Crimes Record Bureau records, there are primarily 5 categories of crimes:
Early in 2017, The NCRB began publishing Cyber Crimes against Women, which provides the total number of cybercrimes perpetrated under the three components Indian Penal Code of 1860, the Information Technology Act of 2000, and Special Local Legislations—under which cybercrimes against women are penalised.
IV. PROCESS OF VICTIMISATION
The figure 1 represents a conceptual model of reasons of Indian women’s victimisation online. This could be concluded from the model that various drivers in the form psychological, sociological, computer knowledge and technological gap are triggering cybercrime through women victimisation. It is interesting to find out that due to the following reasons women are being victimised and that is leading to cybercrime in many different ways. Another triggering factor which results in cybercrime is through miscreant’s outlook thus it could be traced out that various reasons are making women victimised which in turn is leading to cybercrime. Similarly a vice versa relationship could be found between cybercrime and miscreants outlook.
The conceptual model is explained in detail below:
Gap between Law And Technological Advancement
Victimisation Of Women
Knowledge Of Computers
Earlier people used to live in joint families, surrounded by their adults thus never faced loneliness in their lives. Everyone was used to sit and eat together, the environment was always funny and supportive and understanding and helping. So, not even kids even the adults never felt ignored or neglected. But, with change in time came change in family dimensions and family started separating. This nuclear family with 4 people became aloof, busy in their own schedules leaving no time for each other, thus faced problems of loneliness, insecurity and lack of family support.
The easy way founded by these women to escape their loneliness, insecurity and lack of support was social media. They became active on social platform and just in eagerness to talk and to find support they started talking to random people. This mistake coasted them with cybercrime as the opposite gender started playing with the feelings and minds of these women. They used to tell their social platform partner everything and males used it to manipulate or harass or blackmail women and get their job done.
That leads to no security even inside and outside the house. No security in both online and offline mode of living or communication, leading to abuse of women.
Women are more likely than men to communicate their emotions, according to various academic studies on the subject. Because of this, the offender finds it simple to gain the trust of lonely ladies. Women often divulge a lot of personal information when they are feeling upset. This is not just limited to private information; they also frequently divulge financial information, real estate information, and family information, swap images, exchange mobile numbers, etc. One of the main causes of some of the most terrible cybercrimes is the miscreant's ability to utilise this type of information against the woman for damage after getting it. Sometimes it gets to the point where it could result in rape, murder, kidnapping, etc. Most of the time these crimes are intentional, but sometimes it may occur due to priming.
A female child is expected to be timid and obedient, whereas a male youngster is taught to be strong and tough. For fear of stigma, women are trained to suppress their voice. They have grown accustomed to denying important events by claiming nothing happened as a result of this parenting technique. Men's and women's roles are established by society. While women must be coy, understanding, patient, sympathetic, emotional, and willing to make sacrifices for their families, males must be serious, dignified, responsible, rational, unemotional, bold, and dynamic.
In this world of digitalization it is easy for the culprit to change his identity or hide himself under the escape blanket given by the internet. Taking advantage of this loophole these people often blackmail and harass the women leading them towards vulnerability. These women out of fear from family or pressure from the family, tends to be quite and accept the conditions of the culprits. This step of women gives a boost to these male to redo the same with her or others.
Partially knowing how to use or operate a computer system and its applications is referred to as partial computer illiteracy. Computer literacy should encompass privacy protection, protection from spy ware, internet viruses like Trojans, tracking cookies, etc. Computer literacy should go beyond using social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Orkut or using Google to browse the internet. Even if the number of computer users has significantly increased, a sizable portion of the population still doesn't know how to use computers in a secure and safe manner.
The findings showed that men are significantly more likely than women to be computer literate. An Indian study that explored the effects of computer self-efficacy and computer anxiety on aspiring teachers found that gender disparities had a significant role. In comparison to female trainee teachers, men trainee teachers scored lower on computer anxiety and had higher computer self-efficiency.
Thus this lack of information provides men an edge over women and by misusing it becomes the culprit of cybercrime.
Addiction to the internet and the potential for sexual communication has made it commonplace for many people to use it excessively in their daily lives. Internet addiction can be said to result from excessive usage. It has been referred to as a technology addiction by several critics. Because the internet starts to rule people's lives, including their thoughts, feelings, and behaviour, it is comparable to heroin addiction. Additionally, it influences how the users' temperaments change.
For these reasons, dependency on internet is a behavioural addiction. Young (1999) claims, that,
“Internet addiction is a broader term, which incorporates % specific types of obsession. These obsessions are sexual attraction in which adults watch websites for cybersex, cyber porn videos, pornographic picture library etc., involvement in online relationships, online trading or shopping, web surfing and playing computer games.”
According to Griffiths,
“The medium being anonymous, people engage in behaviour that they would do only over the internet. Some people who are addicted to internet are mainly engaged in:- text/based rituals realities and take on other social personas and social identities as a way of making them feel good about themselves. In such cases the medium of the internet may provide an alternative reality to the user and allow them feelings of immersion and anonymity, feelings that may lead to an altered state of consciousness for the user.”
V. A DEFICIENCY IN SPECIFIC LAW RELATING TO CYBERCRIMES AGAINST WOMEN
Even though there are several legislative protections against cybercrime, India has had some difficulty safeguarding women online. Although the Information Technology Act has significant measures relating to cybercrimes against women, as stated in its prologue, it primarily addresses economic and commercial issues. One of the major crimes perpetrated online is cyber stalking. Up until 2013, there was no law prohibiting cybercrime. After the Justice J.S. Verma committee's proposal, it was only introduced in 2013. Section 354(D) of the IPC made stalking a crime. However, section 354(D) limited the commission of stalking to males. India needs a distinct and comprehensive cybercrime law similar to the one in the United States.
Cybercrime is quickly expanding in present day. There has been a lot of uproar around morphing images of famous people in naked or using morphing to mock political figures. Perpetrators have been charged and cases have been brought against them. However, a detailed examination of the IPC and IT Act reveals that neither of these statutes defines the term "morphing" nor deems the act to be criminal.
The charges are brought under sections 354 or 509 of the IPC as well as sections 66, 66(E), 67, and 67(A) of the IT Act. These sections can only be used for defamation of persons and none of these provisions deal with morphed contents. It would be challenging to bring charges against the offenders under such lax protective legislation.
The legal measures adopted to address cases of cybercrimes are insufficient to completely prevent them. Making sure that women's online experiences of threat, harassment, abuse, or intimidation are accurately translated into written legislation by amending the two key statutes is the first step in the direction of offering legal recourse to victims. All cybercrimes against women are not covered by the IPC or the IT Act. Women frequently may not even know about the legislation that could protect their rights. Even distinct laws for various cybercrimes are lacking.
A study on "ways and means to shield women against cybercrimes" was submitted by the National Commission for Women on September 23. The paper included recommendations for strict legal and policy measures to deter and combat cybercrime.
To allow people to lodge complaints about cybercrime, the Ministry of Home Affairs has created the website www.cybercrime.gov.in. On June 6, 2016, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology issued an advisory on the operation of matrimonial websites under the IT Act, 2000 and Rules made thereunder. The advisory instructs the matrimonial websites to adopt safeguards to prevent users from being duped by false profiles or inappropriate or incorrect information posted on the website.
In order to train State police officials and the judiciary in cybercrime detection, collection, preservation, and seizure of electronic evidence, as well as dealing with cybercrime, the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MEIY) has established Cyber Forensics Training Labs in north-eastern States and cities such as Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, and Bangalore.
The main issues with cybercrime are the methods used and the persistence of the perpetrators. The law enforcement, judicial system, and investigation agencies must stay current with the most recent advancements in web-based software so they can rapidly identify the real offender. The legal system and regulatory organisations have a responsibility to stay up with technological advancements and make sure that newer technologies don't end up being instruments of exploitation and harassment. Governments can enact legislation to ensure that online places are just as protected for human rights, particularly those of women.
In addition to protecting users, legislation ought to instruct and teach all groups on how to use their rights to communication. At the same time, people need to develop their online and offline smarts; they need to know how to be cautious online and how to take legal action if their rights are abused. Although there used to be a number of challenges in combating cybercrimes, such as evidence loss and a lack of a cyber-army, the Criminal Law Amendment Bill (2013) has solved the majority of these issues. A few modifications are still required, such as judges that are tech aware.
The main issues with cybercrime are the methods used and the persistence of the perpetrators. To rapidly identify the real offender, the police, the court system, and the investigation agencies must stay current on web-based application advances. The legal system and regulatory organisations have a responsibility to stay up with technological advancements and make sure that newer technologies don't end up being instruments of exploitation and harassment. Governments can enact legislation to ensure that online places are just as protected for human rights, particularly those of women.
In addition to protecting users, legislation ought to instruct and teach all groups on how to use their rights to communication. At the same time, people need to learn how to be smart. Even though a society free of crime is merely a pipe dream, there should still be an on-going effort to put rules in place that keep crime to a minimum. Legislators must go above and above to thwart impostors because electronic crime is sure to increase, especially in a society where technology is used more and more. Technology frequently has two sides and can be utilised for both good and evil purposes. The legal system has approved a variety of legislation to address cybercrime against women. Rulers and lawmakers should continuously strive towards ensuring that technology advances in a healthy way and is used for legal and ethical economic growth rather than criminal actions.
The amount of cybercrime committed against women is growing quickly, and new offences like trolling and gender bullying are establishing themselves as new types of cybercrime. However, the IT Act of 2000 does not cover such offences, and the investigating process is ineffective. Act does not offer a remedy for gender bullying and internet harassment, which one of the gaps in the law.
For the study, a separate cell must be established. Officers must receive specialised training in order to combat cybercrimes against women. The legal system should make an effort to adequately address the issue of cybercrimes against women.
Therefore, in addition to stronger punitive changes, a shift in the educational system is essential to combating cybercrime against women in India. These changes require cooperation from the public, the government, NGOs, and other groups since they cannot be brought about by one section of society alone. Thus, in addition to more rigorous legislative reforms, a change in the educational system is a crucial component in the fight against cybercrime against women in India. In order to bring about such changes, citizens, the government, NGOs, etc. must collaborate. Such changes cannot be brought about from within a single segment of society.
 Tiwari; Garima, Understanding Laws Cyber Laws & Cyber Crimes( Lexis Nexis Publication), 2014, Pg no. 8.
 Mayura U. Pawar, Archana Sakure .Cyberspace and Women International Journal of Engineering and Advanced Technology (IJEAT)ISSN: 2249 – 8958, Volume-8, Issue-6S3, September 2019.
 Halder D. & Jai Shankar, K. Cyber victimization in India: A baseline survey report. Center for Cyber Victim Counselling Tirunelveli, India. 2010 Available at http://www.cybervictims.org /CCVCresearcher report 2010.pdf.
 Debarati Haldar., Jaishankar.” Cyber Crime and victimisation of women: laws, rights and regulations”.
 “Computer crime: a joint report” by tom young in 24th February, 1999.
 Crime and gambling: A brief overview of gambling fraud on the internet by Griffiths 2010, page 465.
 2 http://www.aiwc.org.in/ (Private group of women assisting other less fortunate women to fight the crimes committed against them).
 3 http://www.sakshingo.org/ (NGO assists women in dealing with govt authorities).
 http://www.navjyoti.org.in/ (NGO by Kiran Bedi, assist women in several aspects).
 http://www.cybervictims.org/( Private group of legal minded individuals who help the victims of cybercrimes).