From the sextortion and distribution of girl’s naked photo, a look at notable rise in cybercrime during India’s lockdown

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“People saw me naked now. I need to go and do some plastic surgery so that people will not know me anymore. I am changing my Instagram name and user name. I am starting to get follow requests from weird people”, said Aiesha (changed name).

Cyber-crimes are on rise against women and children in India. There has been a notable increase in cyber-crime against women during lockdown. According to National Commission for Women data, 54 cyber-crime complaints have been received online and through post in April. As per the report of Hindustan Times, Akancha Foundation working in sector of empowering women received in total 412 complaints of cyber abuse in a month from March to April out of which 396 complaints were from women related to abuse, indecent exposure, unsolicited obscene pictures, threats, malicious emails claiming their account was hacked, ransom demands, blackmail and many more.

One such case is of 22 years old Aiesha (changed name). She is from Guwahati and currently completed her Bachelor’s degree. Aiesha is a victim of number of cyber-crimes. Whereas 23 years old boy from New Delhi, allegedly is accused of harassing her. She filed an First Information Report (FIR) against him for harassing, impersonating and trying to extort money from her. She said, “We were together for 4 years and I trusted him and initially shared my personal pictures. Since last year I wanted to leave the relationship because of his behavior towards me but he wouldn’t let me do that. He threatened me even back then, and out of fear, I stayed with him.” She further added, ”But finally I gathered my courage and told him that I don’t want to continue anymore. He then threatened me that if I do not get back to him, it’ll end ugly.”

He started calling her and her dad restlessly and used her uncle’s email address for asking 50 thousand rupees from her dad saying he would leave her alone and wouldn’t hold any grudges against her after she pay him off. Remembering his actions, she said, “I thought this was it and it was all over. He went on to make a fake account in my name on social media and messaged few of my friends asking for their number. They thought it’s me and they shared it. He sends all my personal pictures to one of my friend on her WhatsApp through an untraceable number. Then he forged my college ID and sends it to another friend of mine.”

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“He impersonated me on Facebook and Instagram and started uploading my personal pictures censoring it and posted my family photos too. I even filled up the form of Report for impersonation and my account was removed in few hours, after being out there in public for almost more than a month for the entire world to see.”

As claimed by Aiesha, he doesn’t stop here and made her friend’s contact number public by putting it on social media asking people to text and call in the given number and she received tons of phone calls and random porn videos on her number. He has been harassing her from June 2020 and it is still going on. Regarding her complaint, she said, “The investigation is still under progress’.

While having a conversation with her college friend whose number was leaked said, “He uploaded personal pictures of Aiesha and uploaded my phone number to let people contact. I got more than 60 unknown phone calls and more than 100 unknown WhatsApp messages asking to chat.”  Worried about her friend’s mental health, she said, “This is a serious crime and securities regarding these issues should be monitored and guarded. This is degrading my friend Aiesha’s mental health so much.”

Lockdown situation is proven depressing and mentally exhausted for people worldwide. Covid-19 did affect victims decisions of making mind in this pandemic to go out and file complaint. Also being edged for months, have criminal minds a way to target people online. “I was confused about what to decide and how to go about it all and feared about what worse is going to come. I wasn’t mentally prepared. I was waiting when lockdown will pass. When it all will be over but as I said I was wrong and he made the situation worse. I had to courage up and I took a day to decide, I should go and file a complaint against him. I was worried because it was pandemic time and the city was under mild lockdown, I had to be cautious and be safe but also had to go fight for myself and protect myself and my privacy”, said Aiesha.

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She wants to settle the matter with him in the police station. With a written apology and a statement stating that he will never repeat this in future will delete all the pictures and by any chance if there is something related to those pictures on internet, he will be held responsible for that.

“Digital India” vision brought a shift to digital platforms in every possible way and made people to mark their presence online. In 2018, Indian government launched National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal for people to file complaint online. Cyber-crimes can be reported to cyber-crime cell of the city you are currently by registering written complaint. Victim can also file a FIR (First Information Report) at local police station. Apart from it, social media crimes can also be reported at social media platform by following their respective steps mentioned already. National commission of women is also approachable for female victims.

“To all the girls who are going through the same situation, all I can tell you surround yourself with people who will try to protect you and help you. Keeping to yourself will kill you from within. It will kill you now or later. At moments like this, reach out to people for help; you have to get out of your comfort zone and do it. Keep your guilt and shame aside, go out protect yourself”, said Aiesha.

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Shefali Ranawat is an Eat News correspondent in India. She want to be the voice of people. Also, she aim to be a war correspondent.

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Eat News is a Taiwanese digital media, analyzes current events and issues through column articles, videos, visual aid, and exclusive interviews.

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