This Orissa HC Ruling A Relief For Survivors Of Gender Based Violence Targeted On Social Media!

Orissa High Court ruled today that personal content of a rape survivor shared on social media by rapist needs to be erased, as it is a violation of her fundamental right to privacy and right to be forgotten.

Orissa High Court ruled today that personal content of a rape survivor shared on social media by rapist needs to be erased, as it is a violation of her fundamental right to privacy and right to be forgotten.

“Allowing videos/photos of rape victims to remain on social media is violative of their fundamental right to privacy,” ruled the Orissa High Court according to this report, in a vital case that upholds the ‘right to be forgotten’.

It is no hidden fact that women across the subcontinent face tremendous violation of their right to privacy and consent. There have been countless instances where the images and videos of victims has been shared across various platforms, sometimes being used as revenge porn.

For example, in 2014, the photos of around 100 well known celebrities, most of them being women were hacked and leaked. There certainly must be so many other instances, even among ordinary women, which might not have even been reported due to the fear of judgment and victim shaming.

In times like these where the concern surrounding consent and privacy has grown even further, a judgment like this takes a vital and necessary stance.

What was this case ruled on by the Orissa HC?

Recently, the Orissa High Court gave its ruling in a case in which the personal content of a rape survivor that included photos and videos were used illegally by the accused without her consent. The accused had created a fake Facebook profile in the victim’s name but deleted it later when intervened by the police.

Taking cognizance of the case, Judge SK Panigrahi stated that, “if the right to be forgotten is not recognized in such matters, any accused will surreptitiously outrage the modesty of the woman and misuse the same in cyberspace unhindered.”

One of the remarks made by the High Court states, “There is an unprecedented escalation of such insensitive behaviour on the social media platforms and the victim like the present one could not get those photos deleted permanently from the server of such social media platforms like Facebook.”

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It is vital to note that the Court rightfully asserted that “many women find the criminal justice system complex, confusing and intimidating. Many do not know where to turn to help.” While it sounds like benevolent sexism, it might well be true of a large majority of women who do not know their rights or how to go about ensuring those rights for themselves, and redressal from crime due to the intricacies of the Criminal Justice System.

While dismissing the bail application of the accused in this case the Court also said that, “As in the instant case, the rights of the victim to get those  uploaded photos/ videos erased from Facebook server still remain unaddressed for want of appropriate legislation. However, allowing such objectionable photos and videos to remain on a social media platform, without the consent of a woman, is a direct affront on a woman’s modesty and, more importantly, her right to privacy.”

A significant ruling in the times of Social Media

This judgment is a matter of a lot of significance for Indian women. Some of us constantly live under a radar of judgment and shaming in society. There have been numerous instances where our right to consent and privacy has been compromised in one way or the other, in private, in the public domain, or on social media platforms.

Also, in a patriarchal society like this, many women find it difficult to approach the law for their rights, fearing the shame and scrutiny they might face.

Although we still have a long way to go, a judgment like this asserts the importance of our Right to Privacy and Consent and our Right to be Forgotten, something that needs a lot of sensitivity in society.

Image source: Jonas Leupe on Unsplash

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Aditi Singh Kaushik

History, politics and pop culture enthusiast.

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