What Can You Do In Case You Are A Victim of Revenge Porn?

The Prelude of Revenge Porn

Before we embark on comprehending the problem of Revenge Porn, we need to understand the socio-cultural-economic situation of women in India in some extent. Every day, women in India are vulnerable to criminality and sexual assault. As the country’s technological capacity and availability of technology have grown as a result of digitization, there has been an uptick in online harassment and criminal activity. Law enforcement organisations in various countries throughout the world are grappling with the problem of so-called “cyber-crime,” and a dearth of legislation addressing it appropriately makes things even more difficult.

As a contemporary means of threatening, cruelly punishing, and using someone for egoistic needs, revenge pornography or non-consensual sharing of personal photos have evolved. Many individuals are actively searching for recordings of rape and abuse, and internet shaming has become an enjoyable pastime.

This is a trap that many individuals fall into, regardless of their gender, and they become prey to evil and vicious guys. There is a growing demand for couples to exchange personal photographs in order to express their love and acceptance of one another.

As a result, many victims were unable to speak out against the injustice they had suffered. The victim is pushed into a vulnerable state by a lack of morality and retribution. In India, the crime of revenge pornography is on the rise. If you want to stop internet shaming, it’s not an easy task. The victim must cope with their deep-seated shame, which is a difficult and time-consuming task.

What is Revenge Porn?

In modern society, revenge pornography has become an increasingly widespread kind of cybercrime. Revenge porn, according to Merriam-Webster, is “sexually explicit photos of a person broadcast online without that person’s consent notably as a form of revenge” 27 per cent of internet users in India between the ages of 13 and 45 have been exposed to revenge porn, according to a poll performed by Cyber & Law Foundation, an Indian NGO.

Revenge pornography is mostly concerned with stalking or the unauthorised use of a victim’s private information like sexually explicit photographs or films that have not been given permission to be shared. Domestic violence against women is also one factor. The perpetrator’s goal is to humiliate, upset, or even retaliate against the victim. Image-based sexual abuse is not always revenge based. It is distinct from vengeful porn since it lacks a revenge purpose. This occurs frequently, both at random and in the anonymity of the internet. As a result, in all of these scenarios, “distributing” includes both offline distribution and internet uploads.

It is considered revenge pornography if someone posts another person’s nudes, semi-nudes, or private movies without their permission on porn sites or social media. The semi-nudes or a swimming suit photo alone will not suffice to conceal this area. The victim’s genitals, perineum, and every other private part that is not supposed to be revealed at any cost to anybody must be included in the printed photograph or the images that are disseminated online.

Status Quo of Revenge Porn

Although no regulations currently exist to appropriately combat revenge porn, there are a number of additional serious flaws. Section 354C of the IPC is gendered in its applicability and only applies to a male perpetrator and a female victim, which is a major problem. Both the IPC’s Section 509 and the IRWA’s Sections 4 and 6 illustrate a similar problem.

What to do if you are a target of revenge porn?

IT Act, on the other hand, suffers from a more serious problem that demonstrates the underlying contradiction identified in the current legal system when it comes to addressing revenge porn. The finest instances of this are found in section 67A of the IT, which makes it illegal for anybody to publish or send any content containing sexually explicit acts via electronic means.

Whilst this section could be used to punish criminals, this can lead to the prospective prosecution of the victim, who may have freely shot the photos or films and communicated them to their partners, as might be inferred from a reading of the provision. Similarly, Section 67 of the same legislation deals with the offence of distributing or publishing obscene content in electronic form. Victims may find themselves in a tricky situation if the same section they are relying on for legal assistance is being utilised to prosecute them.

Case Laws

State of West Bengal vs. Animesh Box

In March 2018, a court in Tamluk, West Bengal, determined a historic case using Revenge porn and awarded the victim justice. The victim was the intimate partner of a 23-year-old male. A promise of marriage led him to seek sexually explicit photographs from the victim. When the victim ended the marriage, the accused blackmailed her by posting obscene content on porn sites using the victim’s and her father’s private information.

As a result of the court’s decision, the individual was sentenced to five years in jail and a fine of Rs. 9000 in East Midnapore district. Sections 354A, 354C, 354 and 509 of the Indian Penal Code, and also Sections 66E, 66C, 67 and 67A of the Information Technology Act, were utilised to condemn the defendants.

The victim, a 20-year-old woman, was ordered by the court to be considered as a rape survivor and get adequate compensation in this instance.

It is estimated that 98% of victims of cybercrime do not report their crimes because they are afraid of being identified and stigmatised by society, according to Public Prosecutor Adv. Bivas Chatterjee in this case. So in addition to legal and logistical concerns, the absence of reporting of such instances affects prosecution for the crime.”

Subhranshu Rout v. The State of Odisha

Subhranshu Rout v. The State of Odisha was another case in which the criminal and the victim were involved in a romantic relationship. When the victim was alone at home, the offender went to her house and assaulted her while filming it on his mobile phone. As a result, the offender blackmailed and threatened to leak the victim’s images and videos if she didn’t keep quiet about the event.

Later, when the victim told her parents about the incident, the offender posted all of the images on Facebook. As per the judge, “allowing offensive pictures and films on social media without her consent is a blatant breach of modesty and right to privacy.” The culprit was denied bail. Additionally, the Supreme Court stressed the importance of the ‘Right to be Forgotten’ (the ability to permanently remove one’s images from a server) in the context of privacy.

Subhendu Nath v. State of West Bengal

As the number of these instances rises, so does the urgency of having police officers who are trained in electronic evidence collection, receipt, storage, analysis, and output. Many times, a lack of conventional practice or carelessness damages a case. The issue of Subhendu Nath v. State of West Bengal, the High Court of Calcutta, brought this to light.

Indian Laws and Legal Remedy of Revenge Porn

On a daily basis, women in India are victims of crime and sexual violence. Most of these crimes go undetected owing to societal pressures and stigmas, despite the fact that they cause great pain and suffering to the victims. The use of modern technology has spawned horrible crimes, yet vengeance porn is still widely practised. There is an issue with revenge porn since it can be accessible by anybody once it is placed online. Even if it gets removed from the site, it may still be re-uploaded by anybody who has a copy. It’s still going around.

India does not have particular legislation for it because it has not yet been recognised as a crime. According to the Indian Penal Code of 1860 (IPC) and the Information Technology Act of 2000 (ITA), most matters are handled under the wider legislation (IT Act). The laws pertaining to sexual harassment and invasion of privacy will be employed, although the specifics of each case may differ substantially. A person’s constitutional right to privacy and physical integrity is blatantly violated by this atrocity.

Information Technology Act of 2000

Section 66E: Section 66E of the Information Technology Act of 2000 deals with penalties for privacy invasions on an individual basis. Using the victim’s private body part without their permission is one of the section’s requirements. Such violators face up to three years in prison or a fine of up to 2 lakh rupees or in certain circumstances both.

Section 67: To be punished under Section 67, a person who publishes or transmits pornographic or sexually explicit content electronically faces up to three years in prison and a fine of Rs.5 lakh, with a maximum fine of Rs.10 lakh in the event of repeated violations.

Section 67A: Obscene or sexually explicit content may be published through electronic media under Section 67A, which allows for imprisonment of up to five years and punishment of Rs.10 lacs for the perpetrator, and in the event of a second conviction of seven years and a fine of Rs.10 lacs.

Section 67B: All children under 18 years of age are covered by Section 67B. If a youngster is involved in the act of publishing obscene information, the offender faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of Rs.10 lakhs.

Section 72: Confidentiality and privacy violations are punished under Section 72.

Indian Penal Code of 1860

Section 120B: Convicted criminals who participate in a criminal conspiracy that is punishable by death, life imprisonment, or a term of two years or more, as well as those who participate in the conspiracy but do not conduct it, are covered under Section 120B of the Criminal Code.

Section 292: Section 292 of the IPC governs the sale, rental, distribution, public display, or any other means of distributing or placing into circulation of obscene publications.

Section 354: Using criminal force or assaulting a woman for outraging her modesty can result in up to two years in jail or fines, or both, under Section 354 of the Criminal Code.

Section 354A: According to Section 354A of the Criminal Code, a man who engages in sexual harassment, which includes unwanted and sexually explicit physical contact, sexual favours, forcing a woman to watch pornography, or making sexually coloured remarks or statements, will be sentenced to a maximum of three years in prison or both.

Section 354C: On the other hand, voyeurism is the act of any guy watching or recording a woman engaged in an intimate act without her knowledge or consent, with the expectation that the person who publishes such photos or videos will also be watching. In this case, he would face a sentence of up to three years in jail and a fine of at least a year. A second conviction might result in a three-year jail sentence and a fine.

Section 499: To sue for defamation under Section 499, you must make an accusation about another person with the intention of harming their reputation or having reason to believe that doing so will do so, except in the cases that will be discussed in the following sections, in which case Section 499 is said to defame that person.

Section 500: Non-cognizable crime defamation is punishable under Section 500 of the Criminal Code. One year of simple jail, which can be extended to two years, is the punishment for defamation, along with a fine.

Section 506: The penalty for criminal intimidation is a two-year jail sentence or a fine, whichever is greater, under this section. It is punishable by up to seven years in jail and a fine if the accused scares the sufferer with death, serious bodily harm, or damage of property, or if he or she attempts to attribute unchasteness to a woman.

Section 509: It is against the law for a male to intentionally intrude on another woman’s private in any way, including verbally or physically insulting her modesty, gestures, noises, or items. A year in jail or a fine, or even both, can be imposed on such a person.

Conclusion

However, despite the existence of legal remedies, there is a pressing need to educate the public, particularly teenagers and young people, about the dangers of sharing inappropriate photographs and videos online. While technology has numerous advantages, it also has a number of drawbacks, one of which is the potential for inadvertent or deliberate breaches of one’s online privacy. A deterrent impact can be achieved by providing assistance to victims and encouraging them to pursue legal action. Otherwise, criminals’ criminal tendencies would simply be reinforced. When it comes to delicate matters like these, police officers must also be adequately taught. They should maintain pace and develop particular answers to specific problems, which is what legislators should be doing at this point.

References:

  1. Bartnychuk, M. V. “CRIMINAL ASPECTS OF REVENGE PORN.” Juridical scientific and electronic journal, no. 2 (2021): 221–25. https://doi.org/10.32782/2524-0374/2021-2/53.
  2. McGlynn, Clare, Erika Rackley, and Ruth Houghton. “Beyond ‘Revenge Porn’: The Continuum of Image-Based Sexual Abuse.” Feminist Legal Studies 25, no. 1 (March 2017): 25–46. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10691-017-9343-2.
  3. The Centre for Internet & Society — The Centre for Internet and Society. Accessed 31 January 2022. https://cis-india.org/internet-governance/files/revenge-porn-laws-across-the-world.
  4. Adv Prashant Mali. “Rise of Revenge Porn in India by PRASHANT MALI.” Academia.edu –Accessed 31 January, 2022.  https://www.academia.edu/34920449/Rise_of_Revenge_Porn_in_India_by_PRASHANT_MALI.

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