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Cyber Stalking And Harassment on Women

Every coin has two sides, as we all aware of the virtues and edges of the internet, which is also known as the World Wide Web. But nothing comes only with privileges, it has some cons also, and it’s up to us how we look upon the things and make benefits from them. Currently, internet networking is in the same situation. No one can deny the facts that the internet has changed the world completely, but it’s also the fact that it has come with many cons and demerits which leads to many crimes such as cyber hacking, theft, cyberstalking, Child soliciting etc. and the number of people are becoming the victim of these cyber-crimes every year. Cyber-crime is committed over the internet. These crimes carried out online, using the internet through smartphone, computers, laptops, tablets etc.

Mainly Cyber-crimes can only be committed on the internet such as stealing private information from online. But there are some other crimes which are committed online but without the use of the internet, such as stalking or harassment, bullying, sexual grooming, bullying etc.

So how can protect ourselves from these crimes? To find out the solution of this question firstly, we have to understand what involves cyberstalking? Secondly, what are the reasons for giving leads to them in our society? And lastly, how to safeguard ourselves and what to do if we have experienced the cyber-crime?

Cyberstalking

In general term cyber means which is relating to electronic communication networks and virtual reality whereas stalking means to pursue or approach stealthily. So, we can say that cyberstalking means when the internet is used to stalk someone online. When one person continuously tries to approach someone online unwantedly. In this crime, stalkers take the help of e-mails message applications, messages posted to a Web and sometimes even on social media such as Facebook, Instagram any many more. There is no universally accepted definition of cyberstalking. This concept came recently after the emergence of the technological world.

But the term stalking is defined under IPC,1860. Section 354 D provides the defines of the term “stalking” as any man who follows a woman and contact or tries to contact for interaction continuously with disregard of such woman or monitors the women with the use of the internet, email or any other electronic communication shall be the offence of stalking. And it is punishable under the Indian Penal Code.

In 2000, Cyber laws came into existence in India in the form of The Information Technology Act, 2000, but there was no provision regarding cyberstalking in the whole act. The amendment in 2008 inserted the provision relating to cyberstalking. Section 66A under the Information Technology Act, 2008 deals with cyberstalking, and provisions for the protection of victims.

Reasons Leads To Cyberstalking

There may be various reasons which lead to the emergence of cyberstalking. The first and foremost reason for committing online stalking is that it allows the person to hide their identity and location so they can perform their act without being caught easily. The doing so maybe because of an obsession for love and sex, jealousy, for defaming someone in the social group, for revenge, ego or even to get into/out the relationship with the other person and many more.

The eBook “A Practical Guide to Coping with Cyber-stalking” says looking at what people are doing online becomes cyber-stalking when you make continued, persistent unwanted contact with a person which causes them fear and distress.[1]

Psychologist Dr Emma Short said that the stalkers have a tendency to be quite anxious and could be suffering from depression, stress anxiety, or another addiction. These people have a lack of social support, and they seem to be isolated. Thus, they spend much amount of time online. She also said that those people who have an addiction to the internet after a certain period they lose the connection with the real world and it became harder for them to form relationships.

She said they tend to be male and are often in their teens and twenties: "There does seem to be a group of people in their teenage years who are more at risk of developing a dependency on the internet that might lead to fixation and unwanted interest in other people."[2]

In India, the first case which was reported under cyber-stalking was the Manish Kathuria case stalking of a woman named Ritu Kohli. This case made the 2008 amendment to the IT Act,2000. But this act is not sufficient for the protection against cyberstalking as we can see from the figures listed by the Minister of State for Home against the women rise consistently. As per the data, 7,132 cases of stalking registered in 2016, 6,266 cases in 2015 and 4,699 cases in 2014.[3]

Legal Provisions On Cyberstalking

There are several provisions regarding stalking and sexual harassment under the Indian Penal Code,1860.

· Section 354 D of the IPC defines the term “stalking” as any man who follows a woman and contact or tries to contact for interaction continuously with disregard of such woman or monitors the women with the use of the internet, email or any other electronic communication shall be the offence of stalking. And the person who commits this offence shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment up to three years and also be liable for fine and be punished on a second conviction, with imprisonment up to five years, and shall also be liable to fine.[4]

· Section 354A of Indian Penal Code punishes against sexual harassment with three years of imprisonment and/or fine.

· Section 354C forbids the offence of Voyeurism. According to this section, the act of capturing the image of a woman engaging in a private act, and/or distributing said image, without her consensus or permission is said to be the offence of Voyeurism. And this section provided three years of imprisonment for the first conviction and seven years of imprisonment on second conviction along with fine.

· Furthermore, the victim can file a case of defamation under section 499 of the Indian Penal Code against the offender.

· Section 503 of Indian Penal Code punishes for criminal intimidation. Where any threats made to any person with an injury to her reputation, or to cause apprehension to her, or to make her to do /not do an act regarding the course of action. The person doing so be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to two years, and/or fine.

· Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code states that if someone is continuously bugging you with insulting spoken abuse because of gender. The section provides that any person who says any word or makes any sound or gesture, to insult the women's modesty shall be punished with one-year imprisonment and/or fine.

The Information Technology Act, 2008 also provides specific provision relating to cyberstalking.[5]

· Section 66A of ITAct,2008 provides punishment for sending offensive messages through communication service, etc. If any person sends any information through electronic mail or message which is wholly offensive or threatening in character or which is false in nature that may cause injury or danger by the use of computer or communication devices shall be cyberstalk, and whoever doe so be punished with imprisonment up to three years and fine also.

· Section 67 of IT Act,2008 provides punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene materials in electronic form. Any person who does so shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description up to two-three years and with fine up to five lakh rupees and in the event of a second conviction with imprisonment of either description up to five years and also with fine up to ten lakh rupees.

· Section 67A of IT Act,2008 provides punishment for publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act, etc. in electronic form. Whoever do so shall be punished with imprisonment of either description up to five years and with fine up to ten lakh rupees on first conviction and in the event of second conviction with imprisonment of either description up to seven years and also with fine up to ten lakh rupees.

But this section has an exception if the publication is proved to be correct as being for the public good or which is use bona fide for religious purposes.

How To Complaint About Cyber Stalking?

· Firstly, a written complaint must be registered in the cyber cell of her jurisdiction. If there are no cyber cell facilities in a particular place, then the person can file a complaint in the local police station.

· If the police do not accept the F.I.R or complaint, then the person can also directly to the commissioner or judicial magistrate of the city.

· If a woman approaches the police station with an accusation of cyber-stalking, she is allowed to legal aid to help her file a case.

· The statement of the victim always be taken down in private. And the cyber police station has women police constables who can help the complainant to file a complaint.

Suggestion For Safeguards
· Protection of smartphones, tablet, laptop and computer with passwords and finger lock and change it on a regular interval so that no one can hack it.

· Always remember to logout from any website or application when you are not using it.

· Always use the secured site for browsing information and making payments.

· Never put your phone number and address and other information on an unsecured website.

· Never mention the personal information and family information on social media and always make your account private and keep the data to close friends only.

· Never add unknown persons in your social media account to make large no. of followers.

· Never update your current location or places you are visiting on social media and also, remove events you are about to attend in future.

· Try to avoid the use of others phone or laptop for personal use and if you do so must remove the browsing history and not forget to do logout.

· And if you found anything wrong, take the screenshots and logged the complaint as soon as possible.

Conclusion
Every growth comes with some of its advantages and disadvantages. But its own us how we use those technologies. It is good until we use it with care, but it can quickly turn into a curse if we do not use it with care. But it does not mean that we stay away from theses technology. We should develop ourselves with the changing world but with utmost care. Firstly, we have to understand the pros and cons; secondly, we must have full knowledge of using that particular technology because half-knowledge of anything is dangerous. The Indian government has taken many steps and made legislation for the protection of women from cyberstalking, and online harassment but these laws are nothing until we use or report for the crime, so at last, never fear to take the step and not be afraid what society will say.

References
Act
· Indian Penal Code,1860
· Information Technology Act,2008

Book
· Laws relating to computers Internet and E-commerce, universal law publication.

Website
· Ministry of home affairs - (https://mha.gov.in/division_of_mha/Women_Safety_Division/crime-against-women)
· BBC - (http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/32379961/cyber-stalking-when-looking-at-other-people-online-becomes-a-problem)

End-Notes
[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/32379961/cyber-stalking-when-looking-at-other-people-online-becomes-a-problem, visited on date 6th august,2018.
[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/32379961/cyber-stalking-when-looking-at-other-people-online-becomes-a-problem visited on date 9th august,2018.
[3] https://mha.gov.in/division_of_mha/Women_Safety_Division/crime-against-women visited on date 9th august,2018.
[4] Indian penal code,1860.
[5] Information technology Act,2008

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