What is Online Violence and How to Protect from it?

What is Online Violence and How to Protect from it?

What is Online Violence and How to Protect from it:

In India, online violence has not been defined under law. There are many kind of online violence or abuse that people face over the internet. This problem impacts people’s right to life and freedom of expression.

Forms of Online Violence:

  • Online Threats: Threats of physical, mental or sexual violence
  • Privacy Violation: Sending or sharing of private and sexual picture without consent
  • Biased Comments: Targeted racist or sexist comment to any person to humiliate them
  • Online Harassment: Communication between peoples to aim an individual, using vulgar content or image online

It’s very important to remember that this online violence is not only limited to social media i.e. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. It is also done by e-mails, chats and even YouTube or website’s comment section. All internet users have experienced these types of online violence. 

How can I Report Online Harassment?
Following options are available for reporting online violence or harassment:

Reporting on Social Media Sites: Most social media sites have an option of reporting online harassment.

  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

Cyber Cell: In almost each state, cyber cell have been set up to deal with cybercrime. You can file complaint at your nearest cyber cell or victim can also file their complaints at www.cybercrime.gov.in (National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal). 

Local Police Station: Victim can also file FIR at their local Police Station.

Ministry of Women and Child Development: Victims can directly complaint to Ministry of Women and Child Development, case related to online harassment via dedicated email id complaint-mwcd@gov.in 

National Commission for Women: Any women can register their complaints related to online harassment or violence also through NCW email id complaintcell-ncw@nic.in 

Any Proof Required, when I Report this Type of Complaint?
It is very important to keep screenshots and print outs of emails, photos or any other information sent by perpetrator. This evidence will make police or legal authorities easier to investigate your case. So, at time of complaint reporting you must provide proper details with screenshots and printouts (in digital forms).

How can I Keep myself Safe Online?

  • Keep your Personal Information Private: Keep your personal document, address, photos, location, date of birth, contact number, email id etc. privately. Don’t give this personal data access to anyone.
  • Be Careful from Online Friend: Don’t trust anyone who meets you online. If you interact someone online, first ensure that he or she is a trusted friend or relative.
  • Don’t Accept Social Media Friend Request before Verification: Be careful while accepting friend request. Sometimes, stranger make fake account in name of your friend or relative to access your personal information.
  • Stop the Chain: Don’t forward or share inappropriate content.

Also Read: How to Protect Yourself from Cyber Crimes?

Laws in India which Protect against Online Harassment Against Women:

Information Technology Act (IT Act 2002):
Section 66E of the IT Act prescribes punishment for violation of privacy and provides that any person who intentionally or knowingly captures, publishes or transmits the image of a private area of any person without his or her consent, under circumstances violating the privacy of that person, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to 3 (three) years or with fine not exceeding Rs. 2,00,000 or with both.

Section 67A: Whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published or transmitted in the electronic form any material which contains sexually explicit act or conduct shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees and in the event of second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years and also with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees.

Section 67B: Punishment for publishing or transmitting of material depicting children in sexually explicit act, etc., in electronic form.

Whoever,
(a) publishes or transmits or causes to be published or transmitted material in any electronic form which depicts children engaged in sexually explicit act or conduct; or

(b) creates text or digital images, collects, seeks, browses, downloads, advertises, promotes, exchanges or distributes material in any electronic form depicting children in obscene or indecent or sexually explicit manner; or

(c) cultivates, entices or induces children to online relationship with one or more children for and on sexually explicit act or in a manner that may offend a reasonable adult on the computer resource; or

(d) facilitates abusing children online, or

(e) records in any electronic form own abuse or that of others pertaining to sexually explicit act with children,

shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees and in the event of second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years and also with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees:

Provided that provisions of section 67, section 67A and this section does not extend to any book, pamphlet, paper, writing, drawing, painting representation or figure in electronic form -

(i) the publication of which is proved to be justified as being for the public good on the ground that such book, pamphlet, paper, writing, drawing, painting representation or figure is the interest of science, literature, art or learning or other objects of general concern; or

(ii) which is kept or used for bona fide heritage or religious purposes.

Explanation- For the purposes of this section, "children" means a person who has not completed the age of 18 years.

Indian Penal Code:
Section 354A: Sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment.

(1) A man committing any of the following acts —
(i) physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures; or
(ii) a demand or request for sexual favours; or
(iii) showing pornography against the will of a woman; or
(iv) making sexually coloured remarks,
shall be guilty of the offence of sexual harassment.

(2) Any man who commits the offence specified in clause (i) or clause (ii) or clause (iii) of sub-section (1) shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

(3) Any man who commits the offence specified in clause (iv) of sub-section (1) shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

Section 354C: Voyeurism.
Any man who watches, or captures the image of a woman engaging in a private act in circumstances where she would usually have the expectation of not being observed either by the perpetrator or by any other person at the behest of the perpetrator or disseminates such image shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than one year, but which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine, and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than three years, but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Section 354D: Stalking.
(i) follows a woman and contacts, or attempts to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman; or

(ii) monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication,
commits the offence of stalking:

Provided that such conduct shall not amount to stalking if the man who pursued it proves that -

(i) it was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime and the man accused of stalking had been entrusted with the responsibility of prevention and detection of crime by the State; or

(ii) it was pursued under any law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any law; or

(iii) in the particular circumstances such conduct was reasonable and justified.

(2) Whoever commits the offence of stalking shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine; and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Section 509: Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman.
Whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any words, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen, by such woman, or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, and also with fine.

The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986
Section 4: Prohibition of publication or sending by post of books, pamphlets, etc., containing indecent representation of women.

Most perpetrators of online harassment are not easily identified. As a responsible citizen it’s our duty to ensure that online harassment or violence is curbed as much as possible.