India does not have adequate legal provisions that clearly deal with sexual violence specifically in the cyberspace. With the immense growth of technology and the use of internet in India, the need for such laws is exceedingly felt. Several cases rely on other relevant corresponding laws to tackle cases of sexual violence in the cyberspace. Some aspects of sexual violence in the cyberspace are covered under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and the Information Technology Act, 2000.
Is distributing pictures of a woman online without her consent illegal?
Yes. Distributing of images of a woman engaged in a private act where she has a general expectation of not being observed, taken without consent is considered voyeurism under Section 354C of the IPC. Such distribution could be offline or online. Such online distribution contributed to sexual violence in the cyberspace. Some examples of private acts are: a woman using the toilet, a woman who is engaged in a sexual act etc. It is not a crime if the woman gave her consent for these private pictures to be shared online. However, it is a crime if the woman gave consent for the pictures to be taken but did not give consent for these private pictures to be shared online. The punishment for this offence can range from 3 to 7 years and a fine.
What does the IT Act say about voyeurism?
Under the IT Act, 2000, voyeurism is a crime, irrespective of gender. Section 66E of this Act provides for punishment in cases of violation of privacy. It states that any act by a person who, knowingly or unknowingly, without consent, takes a photograph of the private areas of a person, or sends such a photograph to someone else or publishes such a photograph, under circumstances which violate the person’s privacy, will be considered a crime. Such acts can be punished with imprisonment which may extend upto 3 years and the person may be liable to pay a fine of upto two lakhs. Section 67A of the IT Act states that if the material which is published online in sexually explicit, the person can be imprisoned for 5 years and be liable to pay a fine of upto ten lakhs.
What online behaviour is considered sexual harassment under the IPC?
If someone is sending you obscene material through social media and you are a woman, it constitutes as sexual harassment under the IPC. Showing or sending a woman pornographic or sexually explicit material without her consent is a form of sexual harassment under Section 354A of the IPC. The perpetrator of such a crime can be punished with 3 years imprisonment, or a fine, or both.
What are the provisions regarding online stalking in Indian law?
The Information Technology Act, 2000, as amended in 2008, does not explicitly provide any provisions against online stalking. Hence, in most cases of online stalking, Section 72 of the Information Technology Act is employed. Section 72 covers breaches of confidentiality and privacy. If a person without the other person’s consent discloses information about them online in any form of media, he is liable to be punished for a period of 2 years along with a fine.
Is sending obscene or sexually explicit material online punishable in India?
Yes. Sending obscene or sexually explicit material is punishable under the Information Technology Act. For publishing and sharing obscene material, the punishment is 3 years imprisonment and five lakhs fine. If the perpetrator has committed the offence more than once, the punishment is a seven year imprisonment and a ten lakhs fine. The victim under the Information Technology Act can be male or female. (“Laws to help you deal with online abuse”) The above provision have been used by some victims of revenge porn to report the perpetrator of the crime. However, there is not separate revenge porn law as seen in countries such as Germany, Israel and United States and there are no provisions for the victim to remove to remove images posted as revenge porn from the internet. (Gupta, 2015)
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