"The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of
tomorrow." - Bill Gates
The Internet and information technology are of highest importance in the world
we live in today and have a significant impact on practically every aspect of
our life. The Covid-19 pandemic's spread in 2019 and its ongoing impacts made
the globe increasingly dependent on technology and the internet for people to
continue to work, learn, and thrive. To continue leading the best lives they
could, the populace started to rely increasingly heavily on technology.
"Information technology and the Internet are rapidly transforming almost every
aspect of our lives � some for better, some for worse." � John Landgraf
The positive and the bad aspects of progress come along with this reliance on
information technology and the internet. Change occurred in both positive and
negative ways. People were able to organise better medical supplies, start
relief funds, and ensure that work and education continued. With the aid of
information technology and the internet, innovation became essential to
survival. But along with goodness and the desire to improve comes the reverse,
the desire to be evil and cause trouble. Hacking and online crime have
"The Internet is a worldwide platform for sharing information. It is a community
of common interests. No country is immune to such global challenges as
cybercrime, hacking, and invasion of privacy." � Lu Wei
Cyberbullying and harassment pose a serious threat as a result of this quick
transition to the online world. Because of the change to a "work from home" or
"online" work culture, society is now more open to sexual harassment and abuse.
Statistics show that compared to 2016 and 2017, there was a significant increase
in the number of cybercrimes including sexual harassment in 2019. In comparison
to 2018, the number of cybercrimes reported in 2019 was much greater. In 2019,
there were 2,266 reports of cybercrimes involving sexual harassment or sexual
To address this new threat that has emerged in the world of internet, the
existing laws and regulations are both inadequate and out-of-date. Given the
significant changes in our workplace culture and the potential that the world
was forced into this work culture before it was ready, this issue of sexual
harassment in cyberspace needs to be properly discussed. This topic needs to be
understood and discussed in great detail with a sense of urgency because it is
likely to be a persistent problem that won't go away anytime soon.
Due in large part to the COVID predicament, the usage of the internet has
greatly increased engagement in the digital world. Users have been exposed to
becoming victims of sexual harassment while they use the site to acquire
information. Due to its trait of anonymity, the biggest drawback of virtual
sexual harassment is the difficulty in identifying the perpetrator. The victims
of online sexual harassment frequently feel helpless and choose not to report it
at all. Even if they do, their complaints have very little effect. Eight out of
every 10 persons encounter some form of internet harassment.
The percentage of women who experience sexual harassment in the online world is
about 41%. Abuse and insults, malicious rumours and gossip, defamatory remarks
or threats on social media, trolling and attacks, or abuse from a coordinated
group are the main types of harassment that have been reported. The Indian laws
largely rely on amendments and existing provisions in the various legislation
and fail to provide distinct provisions to fight such harassment.
Physical And Mental Harassment
In the Vishakha ruling, the courts defined sexual harassment. This case provided
definitions for the terms "sexual harassment at work" and "Vishakha principles
and norms for the same." The definition was broad and included objectionable
sexually motivated behaviour, either explicitly or implicitly, as:
- Physical contact and advances;
- A demand or request for sexual favours;
- Sexually coloured remarks;
- Showing pornography;
- Any other unwelcome physical or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature.
According to the justification given, physical sexual harassment is the unwanted
physical or nonverbal approaches in a sexual relationship, including touching.
The term "digital sexual harassment" refers to gender-based violence that is
facilitated by technology and takes place in digital spaces like social media.
There are many different ways in which women are sexually harassed online,
according to the 2018 United Nations report by the Special Rapporteur on
violence against women, its causes, and effects. The list covers doxing,
image-based sexual harassment, networked harassment, and harassment. Online
harassment may not include physical contact, but the perpetrator's actions have
the same goal in both forms of harassment.Physical sexual harassment, as defined
by the provided reason, is any unwanted physical or nonverbal approaches in a
sexual relationship, including touching.
Gender-based violence that occurs in digital settings like social media and is
made possible by technology is referred to as "digital sexual harassment."
According to the 2018 United Nations report by the Special Rapporteur on
violence against women, its causes, and effects, there are numerous ways in
which women are sexually harassed online. Doxing, image-based sexual harassment,
networked harassment, and harassment are all included on the list. Although
physical contact may not be involved in online harassment, the perpetrator's
activities are nonetheless intended to harass.
Vishaka V. State Of Rajasthan, Before The Posh Act (1997)
In the historical case of Vishaka Judgment, a woman was accused of sexual
harassment at work. According to a ruling by the Supreme Court, sexual
harassment includes unwanted or uninvited sexual favours or gestures from one
gender toward the other. Bhanwari Devi, who worked for the Rajasthani
government's rural development programme.
Was brutally gang-raped in 1992 as a
result of her attempts to end the practise of child marriage that was then
commonplace in support of the government's campaign against it. Five men
attacked Bhanwari's spouse and violently raped her out of retaliation for
Who they believed was responsible. Regarding sexual harassment at
work, the Supreme Court of India issued the "Vishaka Guidelines" in the case of
Vishaka and others v. State of Rajasthan
in 1997. The court ordered that these
rules be followed up until the problem is addressed via legislation.
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and
Redressal) Act, 2013, was passed by the Ministry of Women and Child Development
some years after the Supreme Court's ruling in the case of Vishaka & vs. State
of Rajasthan (1997). (POSH Act).In order to enhance and streamline the
requirements under the POSH Act, the Ministry also created the Sexual Harassment
of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Rules, 2013 (POSH
Rules), effective as of the same date.
Provisions of the POSH Act:
The POSH Act defines sexual harassment at work, establishes a process for
handling complaints, and provides protections against unfounded or malicious
accusations. Every company must establish an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC)
at each office or branch with ten or more employees. The ICCs have civil
court-like authority and must provide for conciliation before opening an
inquiry, upon the complainant's request.
- Penalties have been established for employers who violate the Act's
- In order to provide women working in the unorganised sector or small
businesses with a sexual harassment-free workplace, the State Government will
inform the District Officer in each district to form a Local Complaints
The establishment of an ICC sends a strong message that the business is fully
committed to working for women's safety. However, it is crucial to remember that
the PoSH Act makes it essential to establish an ICC, and failure to do so can
result in severe penalties, including the loss of the right to operate a
Voyeurism is punishable under Section 66E of the IT Act when it violates
someone's privacy. The act of taking pictures of someone's intimate parts
without their permission, sending such photos to someone else, or publishing
them is deemed a violation of that person's privacy and is punishable by up to
three years in prison and a fine of up to two lakh rupees. Online publication or
transmission of sexually explicit material is punishable by up to five years in
prison and a fine of 10 lakh rupees under Section 67A of the IT Act. Repeated or
consecutive convictions for such offences are punishable by up to 7 years in
prison and a fine that might reach ten lakh rupees.
Publishing or transmitting online content that depicts children engaged in
sexually explicit behaviour, etc. is punishable by up to three years in prison
and a fine of two lakh rupees, per Section 67B of the IT Act. A person's privacy
is infringed in situations where it is guaranteed that his undressing won't be
recorded or at the very least expected that their private areas won't be viewed
by the public. There are various ways through which this act can be committed,
- Digital Voyeurism: With the proliferation of smartphones and digital devices, voyeurism has evolved into a more technologically advanced form. Perpetrators can use hidden cameras, spyware apps, or hacking techniques to invade someone's privacy remotely. Preventing digital voyeurism requires cybersecurity measures, regular device and app security updates, and being cautious with sharing personal content online.
- Voyeurism and Technology: Advances in technology have made it easier for voyeurs to exploit individuals, especially through the use of "upskirting" or "downblousing" techniques. These involve taking unauthorized images or videos under someone's clothing, often without their knowledge. Legislation is being updated in many jurisdictions to address these specific forms of voyeurism.
- Consent and Revenge Porn: Sometimes, voyeuristic images or videos are distributed without the victim's consent, leading to revenge porn. This is a form of sexual harassment and can have devastating emotional and psychological consequences for the victim. Prevention involves educating people about the importance of consent and the legal consequences of sharing intimate content without permission.
- Online Voyeurism: Live streaming and video-sharing platforms have created new opportunities for voyeurism. Perpetrators may encourage individuals to engage in explicit activities while broadcasting them to a wider audience without their knowledge or consent. Ensuring the platforms have robust reporting mechanisms and content moderation is essential to prevent this.
With these being discussed, it is also important to know how can a person
protected from such disgusting crimes. Some of the ways are:
- Consent Education: One way to prevent voyeurism is through comprehensive sex education programs that emphasize the importance of consent, boundaries, and respect for others' privacy from a young age. Teaching individuals about personal boundaries and consent can help deter voyeuristic behaviour.
- Legal Measures: Legislation can play a crucial role in preventing voyeurism. Laws that criminalize voyeurism, digital intrusion, and revenge porn can act as strong deterrents. Penalties for these offenses should be appropriately severe to discourage potential offenders.
- Privacy Measures: Individuals can take steps to protect their privacy, such as being cautious about sharing personal information or images online, using strong passwords, and regularly checking their devices for spyware. They should also be aware of their surroundings to prevent physical voyeurism.
- Surveillance and Security: Employers, institutions, and public places can use security measures such as surveillance cameras, privacy curtains, and warning signs to deter voyeuristic behaviour in areas where people expect privacy, like restrooms, changing rooms, and hotel rooms.
- Community Awareness: Communities can come together to raise awareness about voyeurism and support victims. Neighbourhood watch programs and community policing efforts can help deter voyeuristic activities.
- Reporting Mechanisms: Encouraging victims and witnesses to report voyeuristic incidents is crucial for prevention. Establishing easy and anonymous reporting mechanisms can provide a sense of security and deter potential offenders.
Sexual harassment online is one of the risks that has increased along with
increased internet usage. Sexual harassment simply lacks physical contact or
sensory perception when it occurs virtually; otherwise, it has the same
psychological traumatising effect on the victim. Due to this, victims are less
likely to speak out against the crimes and are more hostile toward strangers.
The offenders now have an opportunity to flee without being caught.
provisions could still use some work in order to include more comprehensive
rights for everyone. A separate regulation is required to regulate ethical
conduct on digital platforms as well. People are also perceived as being
reluctant to report such crimes, which is primarily due to a lack of information
about how to do so. If not prevented at the outset, this ignorance encourages
the abuser to abuse his freedom of speech to conduct even terrible crimes.
inquiry and suggested remedy are not adequate, but they are sufficient to launch
a campaign for a comprehensive set of laws. As a result, one must pursue justice
through numerous channels, with PIL being one of them. Consumers must be made
aware of their legal options so they may defend themselves from these harassers
and stay safe online.
People are also thought to be hesitant to report such crimes, which is mostly
attributable to a lack of knowledge regarding how to do so. This ignorance
encourages the abuser to exploit his freedom of speech to commit even harsher
crimes if it is not stopped at the onset. Although the investigation and
suggested remedy are insufficient, they are enough to start a campaign for a
full set of laws. As a result, there are many avenues via which one might seek
justice, with PIL being one among them. To defend themselves against these
harassers and keep safe online, consumers must be made aware of their legal
"The core cybercrime issue lies in the modus operandi and the cyber criminal's
diligence. The police, judiciary and the investigating agencies need to keep
abreast of the latest advances in web-based applications so that they can simply
trace the actual doer. In India, cybercrimes against women are still taken
lightly, mainly because the respect for women in our modern culture, in general,
is declining, and a lot of people are also not able to come to grasp the fact
that even sharing someone's picture online is a crime. In our general
traditions, cybercrimes such as morphing and e-mail spoofing do not have moral
support and are therefore taken lightly.
They must learn not to intervene with
the personal lives of others, and it is also essential to enhance respect for
women in the general public. Therefore, in order to tackle cybercrime against
women in India, there is a need not only for stricter penal developments but
also for a shift in the education system. Such reform does not come from within
a single block of society, but individuals, administrations and various other
bodies need to work together to bring such changes."
Written By: Aabhas Soni and Nilesh Singh