Cyber crimes have been on a rise in recent years. NCRB has indicated a rise in number of complaints that have been registered under the IT ACT 2000. The increase in cyber crimes has also reflected the changing nature of technology and sexual assault. There is a greater tension between the fine line between freedom of speech and obscenity, and it becomes even more difficult when women become victims of such crimes.

With the advancement of technology, more and more transactions and conversations happening via online mediums provide crime a more digital format. In such a scenario, pronouncement of cyber cells in cities seemed like a next feasible step.

Cyber Cells

In India, there are 10 cyber cells with the one in Noida in Uttar Pradesh, being introduced recently. The other cyber cells in India are located in Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, Thane, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Gujarat and Gurgaon. Complaints can be registered in any of the cyber cells.

The recent case of rape videos sale which was reported in Al Jazeera brought back the issue of videos being passed around in WhatsApp and other social media platforms. Al Jazeera reported that many villages and towns of Uttar Pradesh have been selling and buying these videos.

There are legal protections against such acts, and victims of such abuses can come forward and lodge against the perpetrators and trace them through these cyber cells.

Also read: Your Handy Guide To Cyber Laws In India

Options with the Victims

Cyber cells are established to make it easier for victims to report the complaints, however the experiences have not been good. Very few officials working in these cells are aware of the legal provisions. Cases around sexual harassment are often not reported and there is lot of pressure on the victims to drop the complaint.

There is a perverse action of getting details of the video/SMS/MMS itself, which further demonizes the victim. Since the crime is digital in nature, it keeps replaying for the victim.

With Noida establishing a cyber cells, there is hope that people in Uttar Pradesh would find it more accessible to go and report some of their complaints.

Also read: How To Report Cyber Crimes In India?

It is a good effort on the part of the establishment to provide citizens with such amenities but it is equally important to realize that the nature of these crimes is very sensitive and there needs to be a great deal of sensitization both on the sides of the victim and the people inside the cyber cells. For victims, to come forward and lodge their complaints, it is important for the victims to feel safe and the fact that the digital traces of the act, would be removed to the maximum extent from the online space.

The sad part is that some scenarios of online harassment like trolls on social medias are still not covered under legal protection.

This article was originally published on Hidden-Pockets and has been re-published here with their consent.

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Hidden Pockets
Hidden Pockets maps the cities of India and locates the pleasure centers. Pleasure can be happiness derived from a walk, from reading a book, from exploring a city while listening to a song, finding a guy you like smiling at you,enjoying yourself at your own pace and rhythm. The city is divided into spaces and zones and one is always taught to enjoy a city in certain ways. We try to visualize a city and map it on the basis of various facets. We try to see cities in a new light via audio podcasts,digital maps, photo essays and a blog. In our pilot project, we aim to curate hidden spaces of Delhi, ‘Pleasure Pockets’ in our words and re-invent the image of Delhi from being “unsafe for women” and a heritage city, to a space which is accessible and welcomes everyone.

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