‘Most victims hesitate or refuse to lodge a police complaint, fearing defamation of the family’s honour’

Seema, (name changed), 25, was at her wits’ end when she started getting obscene telephone calls from unknown people. Soon, she realised that a fake Facebook profile had been created describing her as a “call girl” by someone who had hacked into her e-mail and accessed her personal details, including her photograph and telephone number.

Next, her friends and acquaintances began receiving e-mails containing obscene contents. This caused Seema misery and agony even leading to the break-up of her marriage.

Seema knocked on the doors of the Women’s Cyber Security Cell, an NGO in the city offering consultancy to victims of cyber crimes.

“We took up her case and traced the IP address from where a cyber stalker was operating. The location was traced to the United States. As recognised members of the Anti-Phishing Working Group, we prevailed upon the social networking sites to take action by deleting the obscene content pertaining to her,” said Shubhamangala Sunil, who heads the cell.

Since starting the cell, on March 8 this year to commemorate Women’s Day, the Cell has so far helped about 200 women, who have suffered similar trauma.

“Our study shows there are more female victims than males in cyber crimes, exposing their vulnerability,” said Faizan Mirza, who is a member of Global Cyber Security Response Team, which provides technical assistance to the Women’s Cyber Security Cell.

In cyber space, women are found to be victims of harassment via e-mail, cyber-stalking, cyber defamation, morphing, email spoofing, hacking, cyber pornography and cyber sexual defamation, cyber flirting and cyber bullying.

Ms. Sunil said most victims hesitate or refuse to lodge a formal police complaint, fearing defamation of the family’s honour.

Also, most victims almost always say the police do not take their complaints seriously. “They are more comfortable approaching independent groups to redress their grievances,” she said.

The Women’s Cyber Security Cell is organising a programme to mark International Cyber Security Awareness Programme at Bugle Rock Park on Bull Temple Road in Basavangudi in the city on Thursday. The cell’s hotline number is 9900039039.

Mr. Mirza said perpetrators of such crimes can be booked under sections 66 C (which prescribes punishment for identity theft), 66A (which prescribes punishment for sending offensive messages through communication services), 66D (which prescribes punishment for cheating by impersonation) and 67 of the I.T. Act (which prescribes punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form).

They can also be booked under 499 (which defines defamation) /120B (which prescribes punishment for criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 6 of the Indecent Representation Of Women (Prohibition) Act.

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