Maneka Gandhi has been consistently anchoring the campaign against cyber-crimes and we applaud her actions to tackle violence on virtual spaces as seriously as in real life. In a recent case, she reached out to a victim of cyber-crime in Udaipur who was denied any help by the police personnel there.

Ms. Gandhi

A 17 year old girl from Udaipur received a message on her Instagram account with her morphed image. The man with going by the handle “@aryan6687”, who had sent this message, threatened her to post this picture on her other social media accounts as well. She immediately reported this to her family, who then visited the nearest police station to file the FIR. Given the extreme lack of knowledge on cyber-crimes especially related to social media, police officials tend to misjudge the seriousness of matters, and take it very lightly. A similar reaction was given to the victim’s father and sister, who approached the police for help. Instead, both of them were lectured on the misuse of social media platforms and how girls must stay away from using such platforms.

Victim blaming unfortunately has become a part of any crime related to violence against women. Reserved with misogynistic mindsets, the society repeatedly blames the victims first instead of nailing the accused.

Looking at the seriousness of matter and the apathy of the police, victim’s elder sister, Saleha wrote a Facebook post narrating the whole incident. Minister of Women and Child Development, Mrs Maneka Gandhi, took note of this post and immediately connected with Saleha to forward all the details. She has promised immediate and strict action against the culprit and is looking into the matter personally. The minister has time and again campaigned against cyber stalking, harassment and has been taking stringent actions to make the law, policies stronger to protect the users.

Close to 55% of millennial have experienced cybercrime and more than half of this population also give in to the demands of the stalker to save themselves. The Norton Cyber Security Insights report also mentions that globally, 35 percent of people have at least one unprotected device leaving their devices vulnerable to ransomware, malicious websites, zero days and phishing attacks.

Internet and Social Media today have become a necessity for everyone. The millennials have been using it for raising their voices against the wrong and also seeking support for causes that need attention. But the kind of hatred, harassment they experience in the virtual space will surely demotivate them to use it for their and society’s benefit.

Many things can be done to rectify this. First, we really need to build the capacities of the law enforcement agencies to deal with cyber crimes and also sensitise them to look into the matter as seriously as any other crime. More awareness should be spread to inform the youth about safe usage of social media and how the safety mechanisms of Internet must be utilised to control their information. Government interventions to implement the policies and laws formulated for cyber security needs to increase at every level.

We hope for immediate relief to Saleha’s sister and wish for similar continuous engagement of the minister in such cases.