My name is Akancha Srivastava &I am an entrepreneur based in Mumbai. About year & a half years ago I spoke up about a traumatic Cyber Abuse experience in my life that was read over a million times across the world. That blog can be read here: http://bit.ly/SociopathBlog
I was broken, traumatized and weak. I had to make a choice. I had a choice to carry on with my life without sharing my experience (& that would have been alright) or speaking up to face my fears & empowering others.
I chose to stand up & speak up. I couldn’t have been more proud of any other decision in my life.
Watch this video to know more about the workshops I have been conducting on cybersafety. You are welcome to attend the next one in your city:
I would like to share the most common cyber abuse against women in India & what can you do if you ever feel targeted.
You can get more information on http://akanchaagainstharassment.com
Most Common Cyber Abuse Against Women
Whether sexual in nature or not, being stalked is terrifying. I experienced it and I lived in fear for a long time thereafter. It’s intimidating to imagine that someone is tracking your movement, knows about your habits,isfamiliar with your social circle.
Cyber stalking is when a woman is being stealthily followed to track her movements online &/or offline. Its an intrusion of privacy where someone is tracking all your daily routines, social/ personal life. This information can be misused for various other crimes.
“It is the act of using cyberspace to create, display, distribute, import, or publishpornography or obscene materialsespecially materials depicting children engaged in sexual acts with adults.”
Section 292 of the IPC, deals with the offence of ‘obscenity’. The section makes selling, distributing, publicly exhibiting, putting into circulation, taking part in or receiving profit from any business related to use of obscene objects, advertising, offering or attempting to do any act which is an offence under this section as a punishable offence.
Circulating images / video clips of women engaged in intimate acts
Acts of voyeurism- particularly directed at intimate acts of women.Its become creepily easy to get pictured or video graphed without knowledge/consent. Hidden cameras in dressing rooms/ wash rooms, recorded by a known person at home/boyfriend/relative etc
“The IPC provision on voyeurism is complemented by S. 66E of the IT Act – which makes violation of privacy by capturing, publishing or transmitting the image of a private area of any person without his or her consent, a punishable offence.”
These recordings are most often done and disseminated
without the knowledge or consent of the concerned women, either by strangers or by intimate partners.
Please note that even if these recordings/pictures were taken with permission of the woman (may be at a happier time in a personal relationship), she may not have given consent for its circulation. If the love affair goes wrong for example & the ex boyfriend circulates these on web, its an offence.
Morphing refers to an act of manipulating the original picture of a person & reloading after editing. It may involve adding naked bodies to faces, exaggerating body part sizes to humiliate.
Morphing is often used as a weapon to malign, intimidate, threaten, blackmail, and harass the victim. Social fear is at play here where the victim is mentally tortured at the prospect of being publicly shamed. While celebrities are often targeted with this abuse, even ordinary women are shamed with it. It could be a jilted lover, blackmailer, ex boyfriend, disgruntled employee.
Online trolling / bullying / blackmailing / threat or intimidation
“Bullying is defined as intimidation / aggressive behaviour through use of superior strength or dominant position; cyberbullying refers to the same act through the electronic medium.”
Cyber bullying is “willful and repeated harm inflictedthrough the use of computers, cell phones or other electronic devices, bysending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature. Since the electronic medium lends the power and strength of anonymity and limitless reach across the world, even a person who may be bullied in real life becomes the bully online despite the lack of superior physical strength or dominant position in society.
India reportedly ranks third after China and Singapore in cyber bullying.
Impersonation involves representing oneself to be a person one is not. Its incredibly easy to make believe personas these days. All it would take is to create a few email addresses, put up a fake website & may be a different phone number & voila! You have a new fake person.
I wrote about how to build a successful business, which does not exist! You can read it HERE
10 Steps If Y
10 Steps If You Feel Targeted
1. Most important first step is –DISENGAGE. No matter who that suspected perpetrator is, do not engage in any further conversation, arguments or threats.
2. Document any proof that you might have. This stands true for any abuse you might face in online or offline world. If you have received any messages/emails/voice notes/pictures- please keep them as records.
3. Immediately inform your trusted circle- Friends, family, colleagues- whomever you are closest to. People who love you will not judge you. They will first focus in making sure that you are safe.
4. If you feel seriously aggrieved, approach the police & file a formal complaint. Do not hesitate in doing so. Its your right to demand action but be ready to persevere.
5. Most capital cities have a cyber cell. I will keep adding over time but here is a LIST for your reference.
6. You can request for a lady officer to be present if you feel more comfortable at the time of filing complaint.
7. Keep that copy of complaint for your reference.
8. If you feel you are not being heard by that particular team, you can always escalate the matter to their superiors. Most cyber police officers are also available on social media.
9. Don’t lose patience. Stay calm
10. Don’t do anything that becomes an impediment to the investigation like reconnecting with the suspected perpetrator, erasing records, deleting paper trail, giving in to threats Challenges & Solutions.
Sheer size of population on the Internet is mind-boggling.
“The number of social network users in India has increased drastically from 181.7 million in 2015 to 216.5 million in 2016 to a projected 250.8 million in 2017.
Would increase to at least 336.7 million by 2020.”
Internet is leaping but law is crawling in comparison. There are bound to be some gaps. The laws meant for DNA samples & fingerprints are now being interpreted for faceless cyber crimes.
The most important thing we need to remember here is that eventually we need to take responsibility for our lives too. We have to handle digital media intelligently. Learn about things that you should and shouldn’t share, appropriate use of language, Communicating with strangers, revealing sensitive information etc.
While the law & judiciary will play it’s part, You have to make every effort to protect your own self.
Times are a changing. With the social media, even if in small degrees, political will to protect women & children has also set in. Opinion makers & celebrities are speaking up in this regard.
A lot of this abuse has deep set patriarchal, misogynistic reasons. That’s a study on it’s own & I am happy to share that at another time. It takes a lot of time for these values to change. But you and me make up this society so we will need to make that effort collectively.
Political will, social values, Influential voices& individual actions will certainly bring about the change.
Be safe. Make intelligent Choices. Never Give up.
Love & best wishes