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Revenge Porn Or Non-Consensual Pornography

“The scorn of rejection can become extremely offensive to a girl which can even destroy her career, dignity, and social esteem. Perpetrators use revenge pornography to satisfy their vengeance without considering the consequences. The society and legal system should come together and take strong initiatives to prevent such heinous acts.”

Preventions & Ways to Handle If You Are A Victim

"The scorn of rejection can become extremely offensive to a girl which can even destroy her career, dignity, and social esteem. Perpetrators use revenge pornography to satisfy their vengeance without considering the consequences. The society and legal system should come together and take strong initiatives to prevent such heinous acts."

In this world technological advancement, it has become very easy to make anything viral within minutes and there are multiple instances of people misusing it and committing crimes like cybercrime and revenge porn. Revenge pornography has become a new cyber offence these days, it deals about stalking, or misusing personal and private data. Such cases have seen a rise in modern society along with the development in technology. Perpetrators are playing with the life and reputation of victims, targeting their sexual integrity by misusing the technology and harassing them. Revenge porn not only breaks the victim emotionally but also destroys her career and social standing. The victim of such crimes is not only one person but the whole family which must bear the brunt of it. A crime like revenge porn is no less than a rape and is very difficult for the victim to fight in this situation where the perpetrator breaks someone's trust and blackmails her for his own benefit thus besmirching the reputation of her entire family in the society. In the case of The state of West Bengal vs. Animesh Box, 2018 court treated the victim as a rape survivor and provided her appropriate compensation. In today’s era of technological advancement, even our personal electronic device is not safe anymore. One can easily recollect the 2014 Apple iCloud hack in pornographic materials of various Hollywood celebrities was released online. A person of any age or gender can become a victim of this offense. One can become victims of such heinous crimes because of slightest carelessness, so the only primary prevention is to be attentive always and everywhere because blind trust is a curse.

What is Revenge Porn?

Revenge porn is the non-consensual distribution of sexually graphic images & videos on an online platform, also known as Image-based sexual abuse (IBSA). It's an unethical act to share or publish explicit pictures or videos of anyone without his/her consent to harass the person and no one is safe from this type of offense irrespective of their gender.

According to Mary Anne Franks (Law professor at University of Miami)- she says, ‘revenge porn’ is a misnomer, instead , ‘non-consensual pornography’ should be the appropriate term used.

If we talk about online blackmailing or harassment, then the ‘Sextortion’ term is the perfect for such kind of offences because it is a form of sexual exploitation through coercion in a non-physical form.

STATISTICS OF THIS CRIME

Due to the lack of special law provisions for such cases, there are no such official statistics of revenge pornography crime in India. Nevertheless, the National Crime Record Bureau recorded a hike of 104% in the matters of online sharing obscenity and nudity content cases during 2012-2014. A 2010 Cybercrime report revealed that 18.3% of women who have been victims of revenge pornography are not even aware that they are victims. And only 35% of the aggrieved women have filed a case.

Cyber & Law Foundation an NGO conducted a survey and found that 27% of internet users aged from 13 to 45 in India have been victims of such crimes. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), in its research during the time of the pandemic and the lockdown, noted that one in seven women are facing issues of revenge pornography and are threatened that their intimate photos and videos could be shared online without consent.

Legal Preventions for victims

India doesn’t have any specific law on revenge porn or online blackmailing, but it does have legal remedies against this crime, like provisions under the Indian Penal code,1860, and Information Technology Act, 2000 which provide punishments to perpetrators of such offenses.

Indian Penal Code, 1860

Section- 292 of the act deals with the Distribution or Circulations of obscene material, the accused shall punished on first conviction with imprisonment up to 2 years and with fine up to 2 thousand rupees, in the event of second conviction imprisonment may extend to 5 years and fine up to 5 thousand rupees.

Section-354 defines the Assault or criminal force to woman with intend to outrage her modesty. The offence is punishable with imprisonment up to 2 years or fine or both.

Section 354A defines sexual harassment. A man who advances unwelcome and sexual physical contact, asks for sexual favors, showing pornography against the will of a woman or making sexually colored remarks, he will be guilty of sexual harassment and will be punished with rigorous imprisonment up to 3 years or fine or both.

Section 354C defines Voyeurism. If any man watches or captures a woman engaging in a private act, unaware she is being watched or filmed, not expecting of being observed by the person who disseminates such image or video would be liable under the law with conviction and imprisonment, not less than 1 year which can extend up to 3 years along with a fine. On a second conviction, the person might be imprisoned for 3 years along with fine.

Section 406 defines punishment for criminal breach of trust which is imprisonment up to 3 years or fine or both.

Section 499 defines the act of Defamation by a person intending to harm or having a reason to believe the same would harm an individual’s reputation or character. Shall be punished with simple imprisonment up to 2 years or fine or both.

Section 506 states punishment for criminal intimidation which is imprisonment up to 2 years or fine or both. If the accused threatens victim with death, grievous hurt or impute unchastity to a woman, shall be punished with imprisonment up to 7 years or fine or both.

Section 509 provides that whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any woman, utter any words, makes any sounds or gesture or exhibit any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or such gesture or object shall be seen, by such woman, or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman shall be punished with imprisonment up to 1 year or fine or both.

Information Technology Act,2000

Section 66E punishment for Violation of Privacy- Whoever, 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 three years or with fine not exceeding two lakh rupees, or with both.

Section 67 states punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene/sexual material through electronic medium. The accused would be liable and convicted with imprisonment up to 3 years or a fine of 5 lakh rupees and in the event of second conviction imprisonment term of 5 years with a fine up to 10 lakhs.

Section 67A states punishment for publishing or transmitting of obscene/ sexual material through electronic medium. The accused shall be punished with imprisonment up to five years with a fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees and in the occurrence of a second conviction, imprisonment of seven years and with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees.

Section 67B this section states punishment for the person who publish sexual and obscene content featuring a child. Accused shall be convicted up to 5years of imprisonment with the fine of 10 lakhs.

Section 72 defines the breach of confidentiality and privacy and the punishment for such act is imprisonment up to 2 years or fine up to 1 lakh or both.

Section 72 defines the breach of confidentiality and privacy and the punishment for such act is imprisonment up to 2 years or fine up to 1 lakh or both.

The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986

Victims can file a complaint against any perpetrator under the Section 4 & 6 of the IRW act,1986 which prohibits the act of publications, pamphlets, distribution or circulation etc. in the form of paper, film, writing, photographs containing indecent representation of women. The offender will be punished with rigorous imprisonment and/or fine under the code.

General Prevention for a Victim from this Offense

Sexually explicit images or videos may be made by a partner of an intimate relationship with the knowledge and consent of the subject, or it may be without their knowledge. There are some examples where victims never shared any image with anyone, they were just changing in a room or in a public washroom where there’s been a surreptitious camera installed and the perpetrator will ask you to do something in exchange to delete those pictures or videos or will threaten you to share pictures publicly if you don’t do what is asked. The vulnerable and exposed position of the victim can be used by the perpetrators to blackmail, torture, ask the subject into performing sexual activities, continuing the relationship and punishing them for ending the relationship or to silence them and much more. The key getaway point is that it is a violation of privacy and a breach of trust amongst partners.

A complete alleviation of revenge porn is almost an impossible thing. However, it could be minimized by being cautious in every situation. You can guard yourself and be better equipped to deal with such incidents if you are alert and do the right thing immediately without panicking and following some of the preventive and countermeasures described below:

  1. Never share your intimate photos & videos with anyone not even with your partners. Or if they have then ask them to delete it immediately, make sure they do. Never post any intimate photo online.
  2. Never trust anyone blindly, because it forms the basis for revenge porn. In most cases of revenge pornography, women share willingly their intimate pictures to the perpetrators out of trust and consequently the offenders use the material only to avenge their scorn.
  3. Avoid taking explicit photos because these days no electronic devices are safe and can be easily hacked. Your private photos could end up into wrong hands. Alter your photos in order to protect your identity.
  4. If any such incident happens with you, talk to you family and share the problem without hesitation.
  5. You must document the evidence and keep multiple copies which include, screenshots of all webpages and links where your picture or video is uploaded, recordings of threatening calls and messages.
  6. If the picture or video appears on social media, immediately report it on that website and its organization. Revenge porn photo removal options are provided in most social media sites including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Snapchat etc. You can also check Cyber Civil Rights Initiative Comprehensive and learn to remove these posts online.
  7. You can ask search engines to remove the pictures from different sites. For example, follow the instructions on the Remove unwanted & explicit personal images from Google page.
  8. Send a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice to the website to remove it and tell them about the infringement of copyright of that picture or video.
  9. If any website has posted a picture without your consent and refuse to remove it, you can file a complaint to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against the website and its parent organization.
  10. The first and foremost action should be to file a complaint with the Cybercrime Branch as it will prevent the obscene material immediately from going viral. Also, it would help to find out the perpetrator in case of absence of knowledge.
  11. One should file a complaint immediately at your nearest police station, give detailed information about all the crimes against you like hacking, coercion, harassment etc. Along with this, take copies of all the screenshots, recordings, printout of complaints on social media sites also.
  12. If you are facing any problem while complaining at police station you can directly call to the National Commission for Women at their helpdesk and file a complaint regarding the incident by telling them in detail. The NCW will help you in further legal procedure as well.

 

CASE LAWS

1. State of West Bengal v AnimeshBoxi, 2017,

The landmark judgment of this case was pronounced by the Session Court Tamluk, West Bengal for the offense of revenge porn and blackmailing, which provided a satisfying justice to victim. In this case, the victim had a relationship with the perpetrator and he promised her to marry, being in an emotional relationship victim shared some intimate pictures and videos of her on demand of the offender. Later, when she broke up with him he blackmailed her to be with him and uploaded the material on porn sites with sensitive details about her and her family. The Court decided in favor of the victim and sentenced the perpetrator for 5 years of imprisonment along with a fine of Rs. 9000. The accused got sentenced under Sections 354A, 354C, 354, and 509 of the Indian Penal Code, as well as Sections 66E, 66C, 67, and 67A of the Information Technology Act.

In this case Adv. Bivas Chatterjee, the Public Prosecutor of the case raised an issue regarding law enforcement in such cases and stated , “98 percent of cyber-crime victims do not even complain as the victims, who are usually women, fear they will get identified and labeled in society. Hence along with the legal and logistical issues, prosecution for the crime is also affected by the lack of reporting of such incidents.” Court considers this case as a virtual rape case and provided the appropriate compensation to the victim by treating her a rape victim.

  • There are many incidents of revenge pornography happening across the country in which criminals misuse digital platforms and commit such crimes out of vengeance. Although very few cases are recorded by police or complaint by victims because in such matters people take a lot of time to file a report and when they do, they are often discouraged by the authorities.

There is such a case of Subhranshu Rout v. The State of Odisha, this case also expresses the story of the perpetrator's vengeance where, an innocent girl becomes the victim of revenge porn crime. In this case, the victim had to struggle a lot in getting the FIR lodged, where the police did not show any precedence on the first written complaint of the victim to the IIC. The Hon'ble Court had refused to grant bail to the offender by emphasizing the importance of 'right to be forgotten' (permanently deleting the photo from the server) in the context of the right to privacy and said that the offender violated this right of the victim.

In 2014, there was a similar case that happened in Udupi, Karnataka where a college boyfriend of a victim uploaded intimate images on social media and pornography sites after their breakup.

Sudha Ramilingam (a senior advocate Madras High Court) stated about the discouraging behavior of police authorities at the time of complaint by victim in such cases. She also adds that slow judicial procedure is another deterrent “by the time the trial happens, everyone has forgotten what happened!”

CONCLUSION

It's never easy to resume the normal life in society after being a victim of such a heinous crime. The victims and their families are true fighters who suffer the most without their fault, endure severe trauma to their social prestige and try to maintain their dignity in this orthodox society. It is our duty not to judge the victims, give them moral support and boost their confidence to fight against this crime. Woman should always be cautious of a person without having blind faith in him. She is her own true best friend and should never let anyone create or record any of obscene material. The government should also enact laws with a special penal provision for offenses like revenge pornography and non-consensual videos because the absence of a specific and standardized law would only create confusion and ambiguity regarding their execution. Also, all websites should have a permanent technical solution to filter out content while posting so that all objectionable photos and videos can be stopped before they are shared.

 

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