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Sexual harassment of women by way of lewd messages is common in today’s tech lives. Here’s what to do if you are stalked in this way.
The Delhi police arrested a young man for tormenting around 1500 women with obscene calls and lewd messages. It was a sadistic pleasure that had apparently stemmed out of his frustration of being rejected by women in the past. He would dial random numbers and if the call was answered by a woman, the number would be saved to view their profile pictures on WhatsApp. What would then begin is a barrage of obscene messages and videos to their mobiles.
Some years back, when mobile phones had just become a part and parcel of our lives, I was a similar victim. There would be lewd messages that would pop on my mobile at odd hours. Numerous creepy messages in a single day sent from multiple mobile numbers, made it difficult for me to track the person.
The harassment lasted for over a month, when I finally decided to not only change my mobile number, but also my handset. I am not sure why I decided to do this. Probably because I feared that he would get at me some way or the other.
Luckily, the ordeal ended there. But how I wish I had reported the matter at the first instance itself. To this date, I have no clue about who he was. I let him get away, despite the mental agony he had given me. When this happened to me in 2004, cyber laws weren’t in the form they are today. Besides, I not only lacked the awareness on how to report the matter, but was also of the opinion that getting at him legally would come with numerous hassles. How wrong I was!
If I only I had reported, he would have been punished by a court of law for the mental agony I was subject to.
If only I had reported, he would not have had a chance to torment another person in a similar way.
If only I had reported…
Today there is a far more stringent Information Technology Act, under which it is a punishable offence to publish or transmit obscene material in any form. A person convicted of charges under this Act, could face up to five years in jail and a fine of Rs 1 lakh. If the same person is caught a second time, he faces 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2 lakh. The offences are categorized as cognizable crimes.
It is important for women to speak up whenever an offensive content is received. Lewd messages received through any means should not be ignored and must be brought to notice of the cyber-crime cell at the earliest. Individuals with such sadistic pleasures seldom stop at a single message. They are bound to harass you, until you take matters into your hands. Most women are hesitant to talk about it and prefer to suffer in silence, for fear of any sort of social stigma or the hassles of doing the rounds of the police station.
Today, there are dedicated helplines in every city for addressing such issues and the victim’s identity is held intact. The legal procedures are not as complex as one thinks it to be.
Electronic means of communication has definitely been a boon in many a ways. Along with its comfort, also comes a great deal of caution that one must exercise. Remember to:
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