Friday, November 14, 2014

KISS .....but beware

When a young couple was caught on camera kissing and hugging each other in Kerala, and it was labelled as ‘immoral activity’ which India would not tolerate, started the online Kiss of Love campaign in Facebook.  A brief research on this campaign would show that people supporting it are basically spreading the message against moral policing, which unfortunately has become very much ‘happening’ in India for past few years.  In the Indian society moral policing begins right from our own homes. Consider a Twin or an adolescent child asking his parents about what is sex and you may in the very next minute, presume what answer he might get: either the (progressive) parents would tell him that this is nothing but a process of reproduction, or the (orthodox) parents would thrash him and ask him to stop speaking with his friends who are over enthusiastic  about the subject, or curtail his TV timing. Rarely any parent would feel that the children of Technology era may find their answer in the internet without letting their parents even having a trace of it.  our generation who were connected to our friends and relatives through landline phones and snail mails and  our parents or grandparents could never have imagined that sexual gratification of oneself could be achieved by exchanging sexted photographs through phones; mostly grew up watching young couples doing such ‘immoral activities’ like kissing and hugging in shady places. Some of the much popular places of young couple of our generation in various metro cities were Victoria Memorial in Kolkata or Lal Bag garden in Bangalore or the Marina beach in Chennai . Other than these, bushy and lonely places in the colleges or Universities also provided excellent ‘private’ places for young couples. Unlike these days, couples did not have in- built camera devices with them to capture the private moments, but there were ‘spies’ (mostly engaged by the families), who would act as agents of moral policing by taking voyeur pictures only to either motivate the parents to forcefully stop  the rendezvous or  make a police complaint against the boy for harassing the girl. In some cases such acts of moral policing had also been used to defame the girl and her family. Many of such young couples may not finally make a strong couple and start a family. Even in this generation also, this observation stands true. There are umpteen amounts of resources available which may vouch that either the girl was emotionally overpowered by the boy, who wanted enjoy the forbidden pleasure; or both of them wanted to enjoy sexual stimulation by non-penetrative body contact which may include kissing, rubbing, hugging etc. For matured and older teens and young adults of extremely orthodox families, this may be the result of suppression of sexual fantasies. But could such activities like kissing be called ‘immoral’ when done in public places? While the Indian Penal Code gives a broader view on this in S.294(a) by stating that any obscene act done in public is punishable by law; for senior teens it may become even more risky with the existence of Prevention of children from sexual offences Act,2012. But note that none of these laws explain what is ‘immoral’ or what is ‘obscene’. However, there are some regional laws which have covered such subjects under the broader nuance of ‘nuisance’ in public; for example, Police Acts in many metro cities such Kolkata, Karnataka, Bombay police Acts etc, gives power to any officer to take action against any individual for exposing oneself indecently in public places or committing wilful nuisance in public places. While the word ‘indecent’ has also a broader connotation quite like the word ‘obscenity’ under the Indian laws, kissing in public with sexual connotation has been tagged as a subject of indecency due to these laws which were influenced by Indian culture as well as British colonial understanding of ruling the country. But our judiciary has shown an extra ordinary modern mind set when it comes to supporting these laws or police actions for arresting couples for kissing in public. Consider this one case in 2009 where the Delhi High Court refused to accept the case against a young married couple who were caught kissing in the metro station; the High court ruled that kissing by newly married couple in public place can not be called obscene( ; or consider the case of Richard Gere and Shilpa Shetty kissing case which attracted huge comments from moral policing groups. In 2007 Gere was sentenced to be arrested for kissing Shilpa on the dais where they were promoting AIDS awareness campaign by a Rajasthan Court. Subsequently the Supreme court quashed the order stating that there was nothing obscene in the act of Gere kissing Shilpa.
But then why such hype about kissing in public?
I am one who opposes the idea of publicising emotions, especially those with sexual connotation in public. 15 years  back as a fresh law graduate when I arrived in Chennai, I had been a victim of such moral policing when I was ‘caught’ patting my the-then boy friend, now husband as I was appreciating him for one of his scholarly articles. I was warned not only by the parents of some adult women who stayed in the working women’s hostel, but also by the matron and other board members of the Hostel. They felt by seeing me other women would also pick up this habit. It was alarming for me as I understood Tamil Nadu is extremely orthodox when it comes to public display of emotion to your boyfriend or husband. But on the very next day I did get to see so many couples in the Marina beach doing a bit more than what I did. May be I should have been bold enough to confront the society. But the ‘damage’ was already done. I started realising the fact that if one publicly displays his/her emotions the protestors may warn or create a havoc not because they are propagating the so called ‘decent’ culture of India, but because they may also instantly feel the suppressed sexual desire to touch the ‘target’ and ‘experiment’ the same activities. My realisation was not born out of imagination. It was due to several write-ups about mob-sexual violence and sexual psychology of people who were brought up by families where sexual violence was considered as normal trick for ‘taming’ women. I was not bold and aware as the NALSAR university girls who fought back the people who were filming them when they were enjoying their farewell party at a pub ( But now when I am aware, I am still a little rigid; but don’t fall in the strict group of moral police who would thrash the young couple. The public kissing campaign can neither get full support from me as my understanding says there may be some (rare) incidents  where campaigners especially women may have to face unwanted harassment.
My understanding has one more reason. Consider some instances when young women receive some ‘smily’ and it is not to be smiled at all..... women receiving ‘kiss’ through apps in their digital devices has started becoming  an alarming issue now. In the digital place too we have private as well as public place and when a stranger starts sending ‘kiss’ to a woman either in the public chat room or private profiles, it becomes not only annoying, but also frightening to the ‘target’.  I have seen many women who had received such ‘kiss’ from strangers or little known acquaintances, start feeling extremely uncomfortable in the digital space. The signal is clear; if kissing in public place is not a ‘crime’ then why would sending a ‘kiss’ online be a crime? We need to understand that every revolution, every positive improvement has a side effect  and it depends upon how the message is being interpreted by individuals. While kissing or physical touching by two lovers in public places especially in serene atmosphere or lonely places can be a sweet experience for them, the ‘scene’ may not leave a sweet memory for many. Digital place anonymity has posed a dangerous question on the safety of women and activities such as ‘kissing in public’ (even if it is between two lovers or if the kiss is not made with sexual connotation) may also have a darker shadow in the digital space.

We need more awareness and education regarding usage of digital space and the most important; we need to have better sex-education, health and hygiene education in the schools. Let us hope love spreads everywhere and in a very comfortable way not leaving behind any track to let hate or mischievousness destroy the beautiful feeling of human beings.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

What should we learn from the case of Ray Rice?

One of the trending news in Facebook and Twitter now is that of Ray Rice. He punched his the- then girlfriend, made her unconscious and dragged her from the elevator in inhuman ways; so what is the big issue in it? As the media reports say, he is now married to his ‘victim’ Janay Palmer, even though there are records that he had had the most dangerous ‘punch’ delivered on her which many women consider a good ground to not to continue any relationship, leave marriage. I was going through Professor Mary Anne Franks’s Facebook posts regarding this. I, like many of her fans who follow her scholarly write-ups, at first thought that this was an issue of another celeb-scandal. But when I went through the media reports that Professor Franks shared and her comments on that, I felt shocked. One of the ‘comments’ that I read in her posts stated that Rice was taught to blow punches to knock down hardest man and also was taught to not to use these for anyone other than his opponents in sports or for self defence. What drew attention of the world was the cctv footage of the whole act and the actions that had been taken or should be taken against him. What drew my attention was, pleading from the sensible people including Dr.Franks to not to watch or share this video as this may add more humiliation to the woman who has been victimised. I agree. In India after the Badaun case, many started sharing the images; some for showing genuine concern and some for using it as a warning message for women who dare to break the obnoxious rules setup by some societies to restrict women’s rights  to speech, to life and to choose a partner of her own choice. I was one of the many who got requests from Facebook friends and acquaintances to share the images. My answer was my blog @ . I had this realisation especially after I did my research on online victimisation of Andaman Jarawa women (the online version can be found @ ). Why only Badaun case? In the internet one can find thousands of footages which show humiliation of women in various ways and I am not talking about pornographic sites only. There are videos of kicking, hitting, verbally abusing, dragging women or even unwanted and unwelcome touching. There are also footages of kissing or love-making which may have been uploaded either as a secret leak of cctv footage or as planned uploading of revenge porn materials.
The common behaviour that can be expected from the people in such cases is, they glance those audio-visual or still images to satisfy their own inquisitiveness and may also share them to show concern (both in positive as well as negative meaning) and may also add their own ‘comments’ to make the ‘items’ more enjoyable for the trolls. In our latest article “Revenge porn by teens: a socio-legal analysis”(International Annals of Criminology, 51(1-2),85-111), we had shown how revenge porn becomes an offensive material the same way. Many don’t understand that by contributing more ‘hits’ to these clippings they are actually contributing more towards the humiliation of the victim. I remember couple of years back there was this YouTube clipping which was doing rounds in the internet : of an angry young woman with a small child in her lap, hitting, punching and violently pulling the hair of another woman and the husband, who were ‘caught red handed’ having a extra marital affair. The abuser was not alone; she was accompanied by some of her women relatives who were also hurling abusive words to the ‘other woman’ and the husband. Whether this was an amateur ‘YouTube short movie’ or a genuine incidence recorded by an agitated relative of the wife whose husband was denying her the love and care for another woman, is unknown to me. But this video was instantly spread in the internet attracting hundreds of comments, for as well as against the ‘wife’. If this was a genuine video, it needs to be understood that this could have reduced the ‘wife’s’ chance to claim justice as the ‘other woman’ could win over her due to the physical as well as online humiliation she may have got. Due to the tremendous developments in the laws, especially in evidence laws in India, influenced by availability and genuineness of the   digital records and also the human habits of depending over the digital communication technology for positive as well as negative gains, the perception of the society and the criminal justice administration towards direct digital crimes and indirect (sometimes it may be non-voluntary as well) crimes have also changed. On the positive side, let us hope that soon the prosecution would also start including the liability of those who add more insults to the victim by ‘enjoying’ the visual images of victimisation. Unless people show concern by not seeing, commenting and spreading of such humiliating images, victims would continue to be victimised.
Please Note: Do not violate copyright of this blog. If you would like to use informations provided in this blog for your own assignment/writeup/project/blog/article, please cite it as “Halder D. (2014), “What should we learn from the case of Ray Rice?13th September,2014, published in

Friday, August 22, 2014

When reporting is not welcome

Last month I attended the National Commission for Women of India’s consultation meet on cybercrime against women as an expert. I not only got to meet other luminaries on law, cyber security and gender studies from all over India, I took this golden opportunity to learn more about some practical issues from the experts in the field. Almost all of us in the consultation meet unanimously agreed that majority of online crimes against women go unnoticed because women don’t report the crime. Why online crimes? There are thousands of cases of offline gender harassment, wife abuse, elder abuse and child abuse are going around in all of our neighbourhoods, but how many of us really know about it? How many of the victims actually feel that the cases are worth reporting? How many families encourage the victim to report the matter to the police? The recently released NCRB report would tell the sorry state of affairs in this regard. This is for the first time that the NCRB report has included statistics about cyber crime targeting women in India. A glance to it would show that neither the new laws (as has been brought by the Criminal law amendment Act, 2013) were used properly for booking the crimes, nor there were much numbers of cases registered with the police. If one sees ongoing studies on gender harassment, it may be noted that in many places in India the victims have complained about non cooperation by the police when it comes to registering the crime. I agree with some of such findings. In many cases of wife abuse, sexual assault on women to even eve teasing in public places etc., may not receive proper police attention for various reasons. There are instances where driven by frustration, many women had either committed suicide, or had killed their children along with them, or had turned into chronic psycho-patients. In the cases of cyber crimes, my understanding says the reason for police apathy largely stems out from the lack of knowledge about the nature of the crime. I have discussed about this in many of my scholarly works.  However, I can not but put the equal share of blame on the victims as well. I have seen many young women victims of cyber crime, who were eager to report the matter to the police. Nonetheless, there are officers in the police department who are equally eager to help in such cases. I personally know some of such officers who take special interest in helping victims of cyber crime cases and who take special initiatives to encourage people to report cases of victimisation.  But they turn helpless when the victims suddenly decide to turn back. It needs to be noted that now in every district in all States in India, the police head quarters must compulsorily have cyber crime cell. This means that even if the local police stations officers are unequipped to register cases of cyber crime, a victim can directly go to the district police headquarters for seeking help. True, due to absence of mutual legal assistance treaties in cyber crime cases, some cases involving foreign jurisdictions may not be solved by the police. But still then, a case must be registered. Also, if the harasser is known to the victim, stays in the same locality and takes up digital ways to harass the victim, the police may solve the cases within record time only if the victim cooperates with the police. I have my personal experience in such cases and I highly appreciate such police officers who take personal interest in such kinds of cases even if the victim decides to withdraw in the mid-way. But unfortunately in many cases no FIR may be lodged due to the pressure from the victim’s own family.  As one officer expressed his concern, if no case is registered, yet the victim seeks help of the police, the police can still work on the case on the mutual understanding between the complainant and the officer, but to a certain limit. No procedural action can be taken to safeguard the victim or even taking the harasser to the next levels of investigation or even prosecution. This is because there are umpteen numbers of cases where victims had turned hostile during the prosecution and the policing of the case was questioned by the courts for no fault of the police personnel. Victims and their families must understand that they play an equal role or even greater role in executing the laws. Other wise, the laws would remain just ‘name sake laws’. One of the greatest examples is probably S.354D of the Indian Penal Code which addresses stalking as well as cyber stalking. While cases of offline stalking are being booked under this provision, online stalking is still not ‘understood’ properly either by the police or by the general public due to almost nil number of reported cases.
Women, please understand that unless we report the crimes, no one would come over to help. The cycle of harassment would continue to increase. Last but not the least; we will continue to have a police organisation who will be unaware of the present trends of online crimes and how to deal with such crimes since the victims would never make the police aware of the new trends of crimes.
Please Note: Do not violate copyright of this blog. If you would like to use informations provided in this blog for your own assignment/writeup/project/blog/article, please cite it as “Halder D. (2014), When reporting is not welcome, 23rd August,2014, published in

Sunday, June 29, 2014

What does social media has to do with Badaun Rape case?

For past month or two a very disturbing image is flashing in the social media: two girls hanging from a large tree with an audience of some village folks. They were allegedly hanged after they were raped. Many of my Facebook and Twitter acquaintances shared the image in their respective profiles with their own opinions of the issue of rape culture in India. The image got widely circulated. Some shared to show genuine concern, some shared because they thought they should follow the trend of sharing ‘viral images’ to establish their presence in the social media. But I can’t really appreciate such circulation of images which may increase insult to the corpses of the poor girls. While I was writing my article titled “"Online Victimization of Andaman Jarawa Tribal Women: An Analysis of the ‘Human Safari’ YouTube Videos (2012) and Its Effects "  (the online version can be found @, I noticed how dangerous it can be to circulate disturbing news  channel images of women who are victimised. As I understand “The peculiar legal understandings that allow floating of apparently offensive images in the cyberspace(McGuire 2007; Levmore and Nussbaum 2012) for the need of research, literature or general concern, have allowed the existence of the Human safari videos in the social media, and they continue to attract researchers’ as well as general individuals’ interest from various perspectives including that of sexual fantasy and racial trolling(Jewkes 2011).(see pgs 684-685 in Debarati Halder & K.Jaishankar, Online Victimization of Andaman Jarawa Tribal Women: An Analysis of the ‘Human Safari’ YouTube Videos (2012) and Its Effects, British Journal of Criminology, 2014 (54) 673-688, doi:10.1093/bjc/azu026). While this had been the major reason that the Jarawa women may continue to be victimised for some more years in the internet, this understanding may nonetheless be applied to the case of Badaun rape victims as well.
  In this case of raped and murdered girls, as far as my understanding goes, the images were released in the news channels and the civil society members started sharing the same. We all know how easy it is to spread the flame in the social media by sharing images. However, such public or even private  sharing may not always be good.  I do not disagree with the view that the more such incidences are shared, the more civil society members can be involved for a mass revolution against violence against women. The Delhi Rape case in December 2012 and the consequences which resulted in creation of new set of laws for women in India can be best example. But it also needs to be understood that our Criminal Procedure Code and the Indian Penal Code strictly prohibits distributing images of victims, especially women and child victims. This not only may jeopardise the prosecution, but also may add more insult to the dead. I agree that some images show blurred faces; but the original image(which had been circulated by many in the social media) with clear picture is not only visually disturbing, it actually gives an implied message as how women are still subdued by large scale discrimination. One never knows what sorts of sadistic trolls may enlarge the scope of victimisation of the dead in this case. Those who are still sharing these images may note that  the parents of the victim girls can approach the court to stop such post death humiliation of their daughters in the  digital media.  
Please consider: to stop violence against women first stop sharing disturbing images of the victims  which may have made them (the victims) feel ashamed of their womanhood. Use social media  to build up a strong resistance against rape culture by sharing your views and making people aware of the issue.............. but not by disgracing the victim or by overriding the law.
Please Note: Do not violate copyright of this blog. If you would like to use informations provided in this blog for your own assignment/writeup/project/blog/article, please cite it as “Halder D. (2014), “What does social media has to do with Badaun Rape case?
, 29th June,2014, published in

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Older generation and the risks in the digital era

Summer vacation has started and all are heading towards numerous destinations, majority heading towards ancestral homes. Since the easy availability of tablets, ipads and smart phones  ( well, not to speak about the laptops which are now considered as the older generation in  digital gadgets), many children insist carrying them to their grandparents places to fight ‘boredom’ , to take selfies in so called ‘exotic’ locations ( well, I got to see children calling a village temple tank as an ‘exotic location’ too) and to instantly put the family pictures in the instagram, Facebook  etc by various ways including whatsapp. Some parents and grandparents feel extremely proud to exhibit their children’s skill in digital technology; some feel children are getting addicted to the digital gadgets and thereby they should be given company in using the gadgets. While parents may make a horrible company in some cases due to their excessive interest in the digital day to day affair of the children, grand parents can make excellent companions, especially when the child understands that the grandparent is completely unaware of the digital tricks and can never play a detective’s role to pierce the privacy of the child. So what happens when an old man joins his young grandchild in exploring and contributing to the new digital communication systems?  Here are some examples:
Ø Taking random pictures of the household things, members of the family ( even if they are not ready to face the camera) and storing them digitally;
Ø Putting them in the social media without knowing what could be the consequence.
Ø Exploring parent’s social media profiles with the grandparent by his/her side (especially when the child knows the password of the parent’s social media profiles) and thereby giving repeated shocks to the old heads.
Ø In course of teaching the grandparent some tricks, the child may start sending friends’ request to strangers, make profiles of the grand parent’s friends without permission, start ‘liking’ numerous posts and share stuffs which may be dangerous both for the adult as well as the children.
Ø Downloading private pictures from other’s profiles and storing them in the gadget (well, it is a ‘fun’ to teach the grandparent how to download pictures).

And why we, net immigrants should be bothered by these habits of net natives ( the children) or the net aliens ( the older generation)?  Well, i have more than one reason to be worried. I got to see the tablet of one such grand parent who had stored my own photo without my knowledge. I am not ‘friend’ to him. Neither he has any profile in any social media. But one of his children is in my husband’s Facebook friend’s list. The tablet consists many more interesting pictures: a lady with face pack sitting awkwardly in her night gown, some naked children ready to jump  in the bathtub and so on..... none of these pictures were taken from proper angles and they looked amateur. When I confronted the owner of the tablet regarding this, he was more than shocked. He instantly asked his children( both under 12 years of age) who proudly told it was none other than their grandfather who became a ‘good student’ of their digital technology class, who had taken these pictures and downloaded many other. After the initial shock, came the time to laugh away the matter. But it was not the matter to laugh away. It needs to be understood that even though a digital gadget may belong to a particular person, it can be misused by numerous persons who may get a chance to handle it according to their own wishes. If it is misused, it can give birth to various issues including identity theft, sending of anonymous offensive communication and not to mention, unauthorisedly storing other’s private data including images and voyeurism (which this grandfather-grandchild duo unknowingly did ). The laws regarding the safe digital communication, safer internet and safety of women and children are developing in India and one thing which every one must note is, any offence done by any digital gadget can first and fore mostly make the owner the gadget primarily liable if he has not established his innocence in such cases by lodging complaints of missing of the gadget or the theft of the gadget or the unauthorised usage of his digital data (including social media profiles). Laws relating to identity theft, sending of anonymous offensive, unauthorisedly storing other’s private data including images and voyeurism etc, are strict when it comes to the gender of the victim as well as the offender. The new Criminal Law amendment Act, 2013 has made several of such offences punishable especially when the victim is a woman. Not to mention about the Protection of the children from sexual offences Act, 2012 (POCSO), which has laid down stricter laws to prevent any sort of exploitation of children, whether physically or digitally. While the 2013 Act targets male  offenders largely for several digital crimes, information technology act as well as the POCSO Act holistically apply to ‘all’. The child offenders are neither spared from punishments, including correctional punishments or fines, irrespective of the fact whether they knowingly or unknowingly do the mistake. Nonetheless, the owner of the gadget becomes vicariously liable in such cases and his/her journey through the whole legal procedure may neither be a cake walk.
Hence be careful. Teach the older generation how to use the gadget as well as the digital data just in the way children are to be taught. Do not make the innocents fall victims of new technologies.
Happy holidays
Please Note: Do not violate copyright of this blog. If you would like to use informations provided in this blog for your own assignment/writeup/project/blog/article, please cite it as “Halder D. (2014), “Older generation and the risks in the digital era
”, 24th April, 2014  Published in

Sunday, March 16, 2014

When mothers turn dangerous for daughters

 I was delighted to find a long lost friend of mine in the social media. She and I were friends right from our early school days and we lost connection when my father got transferred to another city. She found me and I found her after nearly 25 years, and we are mothers of lovely girls. The reuniting story would have happily ended here if not I found a unique coincidence which made me to think about this blog: about times when mothers may turn dangerous for their daughters. Often mothers prefer to make their children introduce to the social media through their own profiles. Many women think it is perfectly all right because the mother and daughter bond would grow, they may get to learn the virtual relationships together and mother will always protect her baby even in the cyber space. Mostly this ‘bringing the child to the social media through the mother’s profile’ takes place when the child is in the age group of 5 to 10/11 , the age when they are vulnerable targets by online groomers who spread their net for trapping children for varied reasons including paedophilia as well as online monetary cheating of the parents through the children. Mothers often think that by introducing the child to the social media through their own profiles they can save the children from such dangers. But how wrong they are....
My friend’s daughter or her mother or many mothers of daughters may never know what dangerous gate they are opening for their daughters. A very recent report from Jharkhand is a living example:  a minor girl was harassed by none other than her mother’s Facebook friend in the Facebook and when the girl confessed the victimisation, the Child Welfare Board suggested that the safest place for the girl should not be with the mother, but with her grandparents (BBC, 13th February,2014). This is but one example as how mother’s profile can invite danger for the daughter. It needs to be remembered that even if it is a mother who would want her daughter to be safe and secured, in virtual world, a mother’s profile can be equally dangerous for her daughter. The profile that may be created by the mother would essentially be an adult profile and such profiles are never completely immuned from predators. Let me sketch a detail about how the daughters are trapped:
  • Tell her the password and she may get to see everything you have ‘liked’..............including news on genocide , rape, child abuse and domestic violence. Think how she would react by seeing the visual images or reading about the hard truth?
  • Don’t tell me that you have never received any sexually stimulating message in your inbox ( ok.. it is in your ‘other box’ and you have never opened it). Your daughter is smarter than you to check all messages...... including those you never wanted to see yourself and don’t know how to delete it permanently.
  • Thinking that it is you, your ‘friend’ starts chatting with your daughter and passes some bits of adult joke, gossips about you, your neighbour, your school mate or your office colleague. Check the language may have never wanted your daughter to learn or hear those ‘nasty adult language’. Now, imagine her shock when she is rudely introduced to the negative sides of virtual socialising.
  • You are in the middle of separation and you have blocked your ex. But he is continuously stalking you through enormous fake profiles and has spies spread across in your own friends-list.  Imagine your daughter’s shock when she starts getting messages from the person you have taught her to hate the most.
  • You would get worst surprises when you would get to see your profile flooded with requests for friendship from unknown strangers whom your daughter may have unknowingly tagged or talked about.

          Not to forget that the medium of communication can be mobile phones, I pads or tablets, the children are more tempted to enter the adult world when these gazettes are left unattended  with children whom their parents have taught to unlock and use them without any specific teaching about how to handle the whole thing safely. A mother or a father or the grand parents may feel happy and proud to say that their toddler or their young child knows everything about the digital communication gazette and uses it herself frequently. But I really don’t find anything to be proud for that. The mother may become directly responsible for pushing the daughter to the dangerous world of cyber crimes. In India parental responsibility had been questioned many times by the courts when it is the matter of leaving the child alone for beggary, pushing the child for child marriage etc. But laws have changed and so has the criminal justice understanding of the parental liabilities and responsibilities. Besides the Juvenile justice care and protection Act, The Protection of children from sexual offences Act is one such law which is merciless when it comes to parental negligence for child abuse including online child abuse.
Hence mothers, let your daughters see the virtual world through their own eyes and not yours, but of course with your guidance.
Please Note: Do not violate copyright of this blog. If you would like to use informations provided in this blog for your own assignment/writeup/project/blog/article, please cite it as “Halder D. (2014),When mothers turn dangerous for daughters
”16th March, 2014, published in

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Equality for women still a dream?

I was reminded of a beautiful reality of being a woman by the official Tweet  of the #UNWomenWatch which showcased this year’s theme for internetnational women’s day as “equality for women means progress for all” ( see But the reality of being woman is not a beautiful experience for all women always.  I would tell why I think so:
Very recently I was invited to be a panellist in a workshop on cyber security by Kerala child rights commission. I had a wonderful experience as a contributor. But I learnt more than what I contributed as a resource person and a panellist. Kerala like many other states in India is a beautiful place with lots of natural resources, beautiful water bodies and excellent schools.  As an outsider to Kerala culture the first thing that striked  me was the dressing of women and the freshness in their look. I noticed that bathing spots like temple tanks, river banks and falls are flocked by local women and children during specific times in the day and men avoid these ‘women only’ places . I was under the impression that social culture in here was very different from northern Indian states, and I started feeling happy about it especially when I get to hear that rape culture is most anticipated in such circumstances in Delhi and nearby places. But when I learnt the reality from other resource persons , I felt more than worried; many children are ‘employed’ by adults to take pictures of bathing women in such public bathing places . Nevertheless, Kerala could be the biggest contributor for Indian adult websites and this may be because of these innocent ‘employees’ or should I say ‘victims’ of the larger porno industry rackets. Kerala is just a model; I did notice many other places in other states where people throng to public bathing places, beaches and even public places like temples armed with smart phones to do their own bits of voyeurism with women’s body. Men may ask the children in their groups to take snaps of bathing  women and later these children would be rewarded by delicious snacks to even one more opportunity to take such ‘reckless’ photographs of women. Have you ever thought of  the scenes in rural of semi urban or even urban places  when women take such snap shots of bathing men or general public where men are heavy in number than women? Such scenes are rare unless the women are not researchers, or journalists or even ‘citizen journalists’ who amaturely contribute news and clippings to the news media. Women cannot be ‘gazers’ in public places to men, leave the bathing men. If a woman dares to ape her male counterpart in this aspect just to show her boldness and try to make men realise the same feeling of embarrassment as women feel by her body language, she may either be subjected to counter sexual harassment by men present there or may be ridiculed by society for being ‘besharam’ ,a girl without any sense of morality.  The society teaches inequality in this aspect from the very beginning of childhood. Resultant, girls grow up to be women constantly being  victims of visual rape or sexual harassment  right from their childhood days not only by  men, but also by young children.
What would be the treatment of these girls and women when they go online with their bathing beauty sex bomb avatar? In most cases these victims of voyeurism may never get to know their victimhood status especially when they belong to the below the poverty line range where they can’t afford to have independent internet connection either through their mobile phones or through the cyber cafes or through home broadband connections.  However, they may become ‘items’ for discussion in the local business junctions, pubs and clubs if their images are made available for public  viewing. No one will actually come over to compensate them or fight for them because they may never be made aware of these as well. However, if the law agencies do come to know about the issue, hopefully actions can be taken against the people involved in the racket right from the kingpin to the children who may have been ‘employed’ by such people to do the ground work. Most likely prescribed penalty could be either a jail term for three years or a fine or both as has been described in S.66E of the Information Technology Act, 2008, or a jail term for three years or five years minimum with a fine, as prescribed by Ss. 67 or 67A of the Information Technology Act or S.354C of the Indian Penal code depending upon the nature of the offence as understood from the images and its effects. The issue of involvement of children may further attract questions of right to protection of children from such crimes as well as duty of the State to prevent the children from getting involved in such acts through various legal provisions.

Who remains unprotected without getting any notion of ‘equality’? Nonetheless these innocent poor women who may be again subjected to such acts by a fresh group of youngsters mentored by some other porn industry rackets.  I feel time has come to teach not only the children, but also their parents about the possible misuse of gadgets by their children and to stop providing ‘soft corner’ for children’s unreasonable demands  for smart phones even if it is a gift for getting excellent marks in the exams.
Please Note: Do not violate copyright of this blog. If you would like to use informations provided in this blog for your own assignment/writeup/project/blog/article, please cite it as “Halder D. (2014), “Equality for women still a dream ?”  Published in

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Public Tweets, privacy and necessity to be private in public eyes

When  the Bengali cinema lovers just woke up from the first shock of the death of the legendary actress Suchitra Sen, came the news of the death of Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor, better known to many as the wife of Dr. Shashi Tharoor, the extremely noticeable union minister of India. People were in awe of Suchitra Sen even when she was lying in Keoratola crematorium ground waiting to be cremated by her daughter. The main reason: she was an extremely personal lady and unlike many of her contemporaries, she neither appeared in public for more than twenty something years, nor did she encourage anyone to know more about her through the electronic media. She was not present in either Facebook or Twitter and no one knew how she looked like after she appeared in her last cinema. We, the generation who grew up watching  Big Bs getting older looks and new actors like Shah Rukh Khan and his contemporaries taking the stage from the older generation, hardly watched any Bengali cinema during the late 80’s or 90’s until Rituporno Ghosh brought back the magic of commercial Bengali cinema back to us in late 90’s and early 2000s. We, like our parents and grandparents, wanted to see Suchitra Sen and be in touch with her, but in vain. Internet and social media never appealed to her to get reconnected with her fans. But when she died on 17th January,2013 Facebook and Twitter were swept over by comments, condolences and pictures of her. I even came across “Suchitra Sen hot” key words in Google even though the images showed her two granddaughters who are also actors and not her in any such ‘hot scene’. Photographs of her exhausted and distressed daughter and mourning granddaughters in the crematorium were shared by many electronic news channels and these were hot favourite in the net on the day until suddenly the private lady was eclipsed by another very much public figure Sunanda.
          I loved watching Shashi and Sunanda’s photographs over the internet like million others. They were very much ‘public’ and I was one of Shashi Tharoor’s 2,050,605   followers in Twitter. Occasionally I used to  reTweet his very informative Tweets and like many others I took deep interest in  reading the family drama involving his ‘hacked Twitter account’, his wife and a Pakistani journalist( see . I like million others, took him to be a public icon who should be ‘followed’, ‘watched’, talked about and criticised for his views. I obviously was not following Sunanda and I am sure, like me, there are many who started scrutinising her tweets for the first time when Shashi Tharoor gave a joint statement with her  regarding their marriage and  news channels started increasing their TRPs by publicising this. Interestingly, it was not Shashi Tharoor’s tweets which drew attention, it was Sunanda’s ones. Simultaneously, the Pakistani journalist involved therein  probably received millions of visitors for her tweets within a few hours as well. Some of Sunanda’s tweets and Pakistani journalist’s tweets did definitely provide a chain of blame game centring ‘a husband’ and  two women’s relationships with him. I instantly wondered how one can become so much public about one’s assumptions regarding personal relations. This incidence is not an example of bullying; I have seen many instances of death caused by Facebook bullying which were public and the death was caused mainly by the emotional stress the victim went through after realising what the audience (who are watching the bullying communication) would think about him/her. But this is definitely a very bold example of right to express oneself publicly and what could be the consequence in real life. Many academic researches on online victimisation have shown how a particular communication, seeing an unwanted image or even constantly thinking of the issue take a toll on the health of the victim. This may have played an important role in her ‘unnatural’ death along with other factors as are now being revealed by the police, doctors and also by the media. But the question is, does one really need to be this much public in the social media in certain cases even if he/she is a public figure?  Both Sunanda and the Pakistani journalist had pulled in lots of issues in their respective tweets and indeed the diplomatic relation of the two countries is also involved now. This is one brilliant example as how an issue which should have been a private affair, can draw more than desired attention because of the ‘public nature’ of  it. Some may say they are public figures and they should be transparent. But is this much transparency wanted especially when it has resulted in a death? Apart from personal Tweets, the investigation have  also started analysing  CCTV footage, personal text messages , emails that have been exchanged within all three of them. But as the criminal procedures and constitutional rights guarantee, some of such evidences would never be published respecting the right to privacy of the people involved. The ‘public Tweets’ may remain forever giving a sad example as how desire to remain in public eyes through publicly expressing personal thoughts may create an unwanted image which may never be broken and which can become chosen item for trolls for jeopardizing the situation more.
          India is undergoing a tremendous change in legal procedural codes in respect to media reports ( including reports, status updates or tweets by civil society members) of the crimes, privacy of the victim as well as the accused with the case of sexual harassment of law interns by judges. The transition may take our privacy law understandings to new heights which may have positive as well as negative implications. This case of Sunanda Tharoor may remotely add some contribution to the ongoing transition if and when the prosecution starts throwing light on the publicly expressed private comments in the social media and the ‘sharing’ of these by other fellow Tweet-handles. Nonetheless, this would remain an example as where to draw a limit line of privacy in the social media when one is very much public.
Please Note: Do not violate copyright of this blog. If you would like to use informations provided in this blog for your own assignment/writeup/project/blog/article, please cite it as “Halder D. (2014),Public tweets, privacy and necessity to be private in public eyes19th January,2014, published in