Cyber harassment can lead to several unfortunate circumstances including death and yet the way cases of cyber harassment have risen in the past few years is just depressing. As more such cases are now getting reported and when they extrapolate to a level of physical harm, police have started probing these cases. Ministry of Home Affairs said on Tuesday that Delhi Police is investigating 18 cases of cyber harassment where pictures and phone number details of women were circulated on social media to defame them.

The ministry was questioned if it is aware that last year phone numbers and images of girls were leaked on Facebook and they were circulated as call girls and that the police neglected the incidents and did not take action despite survivors filing FIRs. The ministry in a reply said, Delhi Police registers all cognizable complaints with an objective that no crime, especially crime against the vulnerable groups including women and girls, goes unreported and action in all such cases is taken as per provisions of law, India TV reported.

In 2018, Delhi Police had registered 18 cases of cyber harassment where phone numbers and images of girls were leaked online to vilify them while in 2019, it has registered only two such cases. “Appropriate legal action has been taken in all such cases. 13 persons have been arrested in these cases,” it said.

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It must be noted that the cases reported with Delhi Police in no way reveal the real picture of how many such incidents actually take place in the capital city. Cases reported with the police are generally the most severe cases or else, the cases are dealt with personally. Girls still find it stigmatising to reach out to the police for such cases because of the lack of awareness and knowledge on how to approach the police.

In 2016 in Tamil Nadu’s Salem area, a 21-year-old woman gave her life because her nude morphed pictures were circulated on Facebook by a man. The police arrested a man who allegedly leaked those images only two days after the suicide. Horrified by the harassment and slander on social media, she committed suicide in June 2018 when her parents were away. Her uncle found her and rushed her to the hospital where she was declared brought dead.

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“Appropriate legal action has been taken in all such cases. 13 persons have been arrested in these cases”

The Hindu reported that the girl had finished her B.Sc and was looking for a job. The girl found her morphed pictures tagged on her account last week after which she filed an FIR. But as the police started an investigation, another morphed picture of hers was uploaded on social media along with her father’s number which forced her to the edge of committing suicide.

In another incident, the Delhi police nabbed a 34-year-old man for allegedly blackmailing women and extorting money from them on social media. The accused, Akash Choudhary, made fake profiles on social networking websites and approached women through them. His plan of action was to save pictures of girls and women from their Instagram and Facebook profiles. On the basis of those photos, he would blackmail the girls and extort money from them. He operated six Facebook IDs and several Instagram accounts from which he downloaded pictures of women who lacked proper privacy and security settings. Chaudhary would then use those pictures and made fake IDs, similar to the original account.

Picture credit- Matrabhoomi

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