The world has moved on to a new age of technology, a new decade and new possibilities. Along with the world, we have also moved on. Kerala, being the first digital state in India, has a certain affinity towards the internet and technology. Most of our lives have already been so adapted with these advancements that the thought of living without it gives us chills.
Living in this tech-savvy environment has its perks – it makes socialising easier, has a major impact on globalization, etc. It also comes with a lot of flaws. The emergence of the internet and social media has opened a new realm of crimes most popularly known as cybercrimes.
Just like the internet, cybercrime is also enormous to the point that a single page wouldn’t be enough to discuss its enormity. Ranging from hacking, identity theft, espionage to cyberbullying and online harassment, cybercrimes are growing exponentially. It’s high time that we dive deep into these matters with more seriousness and caution.
Women in Cinema Collective, an organization that aims to improve the welfare of women in the Malayalam cinema industry has recently organized a campaign called ‘no to cyber violence’ in partnership with the high commission of Canada, Pop-cult Tribe, The Real Mard, Feminism in India, She the people tv, International Chalu Union, and WBIF. The main motive behind this campaign is to end gender-based online violence against women and non-binary genders. They caution women to be safer while handling social media, making them aware of the importance of two face authentication systems and the need for strong passwords, etc.
WCC has always advocated for “equal space and equal opportunity” for women in the film industry. It is one of its kind in Indian cinema and the second one in the world. Besides their active involvement in Malayalam cinema, they are also fighting against the atrocities happening online. Online harassment and cyberstalking is a major threat that we face right now. Even though these abusers attack people from all genders, they incline towards females and non-binary genders.
One must be familiar with troll videos of actresses on youtube. Have you ever seen comments on IG pictures of leading actresses in Kerala? if you haven’t, you should; only then will you understand the intensity of the issue. It would be heartbreaking to wake up to comments about people asking you to post a picture in a bikini, insulting your family, body shaming you, etc.
And I won’t blindly point my finger to accuse one gender. It breaks my heart to say that even women shame women. I have seen many women commenting words like “nannayi koode”, “chodikanum parayanum aarumille”, etc. If women do not stand up for women, then who else will? This kind of online stalking, bullying, and harassment is not limited to actresses; many other women are also victims.
Social media plays a pivotal role in our day-to-day life. And it’s high time people understood the various law on cybercrimes. Only then can we bring the statistics of these crimes down. Most of these cyber-attacks happen because people are unaware of these laws. And WCC has taken an active role in popularising these laws to the general public by means of social media and blog posts.
In India, cyber laws are contained in the Information Technology act 2000. According to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India “cyberlaw yields recognition to electronic documents and structures to support e-filing and e-commerce transaction and also provides a legal structure to reduce, check cyber crimes”.
Some Acts included in the IT Act are:
- Section 67 restricts publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form.
- Section 67A restricts publishing or transmitting of material containing a sexually explicit act in electronic form.
- Section 66A ( 2008 Amendment) criminalizes the sending of offensive messages.
- Section 66E concerns with violation of privacy.
- Section 67B pertains to child pornography.
These are some selected few among many others included in the Information Technology Act ( 2000). Violation of any of the above-mentioned Acts is a punishable offense.
It is time that we got out of the anonymity that the internet provides and be more responsible for our actions. We as an individual can contribute to this campaign in many ways. First off, to pledge not to be involved in any form of cyber abuse. Secondly, if you find anybody doing this, make them aware of the consequences. Thirdly, if you know anybody who is victimised by online harassment and cyber attacks, stand up for them and help them seek justice.
In this decade, where our virtual life is more active than our real ones, let’s take an oath to be responsible for our activities online as well as offline. Let’s take an oath to spread fraternity and equality. Let’s say no to cyber violence.