• Women, Safety and The Virtual World

    My college authorities had organised a seminar to apprise us about Cyber Crime, the various ugly forms it can take and the extent to which it is embedded in our society. We were informed about digital footprints that we tend to leave. Those are permanent in nature and cannot be erased easily. The person conducting the seminar substantiated his lecture by giving some real-life instances of people who had been victimized by cyber crime. The session was an eye-opener for me. I realised that today’s digital age isn’t as rosy as it seems to be. 

    Internet is like a gigantic sea, mesmerising at the surface but has a plethora of dangers lurking at its depth. In the recent past, there has been a surge in the number of cyber crimes committed against women. This means that besides public places, women are not safe in the virtual space also. Online bullying, harassment via emails, morphing are some new-age crimes that are instilling a sense of fear in the minds of young women.

    SheThePeople.Tv spoke to a bunch of young women to who opened up about their unpleasant virtual experiences.

    Dimple Gilani, an engineering student from Delhi University recollects,

    “I was in class XII when the entire furor around confession pages started. I was preparing for my boards when friend informed me that one of my classmates is using these pages to express his feelings for me. He hadn’t disclosed his name since posts were supposed to be anonymous but I could figure out who the person was. I was taken aback by the extent to which someone can go. After repeated requests, the post was taken down but the damage had been done. Those few days were nightmarish for me.”

    While confession pages gave wrong people the liberty to post anything they wanted to, there are some who make wrong use of online chat groups like Whatsapp to humiliate their peers.

    These platforms were made to facilitate communication but unfortunately, they are being used to hamper one’s sense of privacy.

    “I was out with friends one day. Our exams had just finished and we were having a whale of a time. I was making some really funny poses to entertain my friends. There was this guy from my class who had accompanied us. He was just an acquaintance. Later, I realised that he had clicked a lot of photos of mine while I was enjoying myself. I was very furious at him. The next day, those photos were shared on all our class groups. It was very embarrassing. Its been a year now and I am very particular about my actions in a public place.” recollects Muskan Goel, an English (Hons) student from Delhi University.

    She further adds that she isn’t sure whether such incidents account to cyber crime but she stayed disturbed for a few months.

    Read also: Girl Hits Back At Cyber Bully

    Seeking solutions

    “Girls on Social Media! Understand that social media is a tool to ease your life , don’t make it your life . Don’t be caught up in the vicious circle of virtual life . And don’t be afraid if something unusual transpires with you, any bad comments by a stranger, morphed photos by strangers, or any kind of threats. Trust yourself and that your parents and elderly would too, bring anything like the above to their notice”, shares Shivani Nayyar, a Computer Science student from Delhi University.

    Apart from that, privacy settings on Facebook can be of much help. You can limit your Facebook audience to as few people as you want to.

    Teaching netiquettes 

    Using Internet cautiously by seeking awareness about various methods used by cyber stalkers is one measure that can prevent such cases. Schools and other educational institutions must include cyber safety in their curriculum to sensitise the masses about the same. There should be strict netiquettes taught at different levels of schooling like refraining from sharing people’s photos without permission, not spamming one’s phones, not sending obscene messages, etc .People must understand that technology is to make our lives easier and not to complicate.

    Some names have been changed to maintain anonymity.

    Image credits: Mid-day.com

    Read also: Dhanya Menon : India’s First Woman Cyber Crime Investigator.