Revenge porn: How does one define this phenomenon when Indian laws don't even cover it?

According to the National Crime Record Bureau, reported by Business Standard, cases related to circulation of ‘obscene material’ rose from 589 cases in 2012 to 1,203 in 2013. Recently, Kannada actress Sruthi Hariharan filed a complaint to the cyber police where morphed pictures of the actress were posted on the internet. In another incident, The News Minute, reported, a 22 year old college girl left in shock when her ex-boyfriend posted their intimate pictures on various pornographic websites. Dubbed 'revenge porn', the The Information Technology Act of 2008 (IT Act), sees this as violation of privacy.

So what is revenge porn?

In a nutshell, revenge porn is the act of uploading sexual content, images or videos without the consent of the person whose picture has been taken which may be consensual or non-consensual. This is usually done by former partners or jilted lovers, in order to seek revenge. In India, the IT Act and the IPC (Indian Penal Code) work together to tackle such cases. Under Section 66E of the IT Act, the punishment varies from three to five years along with a fine. If the image is captured and published without consent it is for three years or with fine not exceeding rupees two lakh, whereas if the image is sexually explicit, the punishment extends to five years. The latter comes in 67A of the IT Act. Even PhotoShopped or morphed images are covered by this act.

Section 67A that sees this as violation of privacy states, "Whoever, publishes or transmits or causes to be transmitted in the electronic form any material which contains sexually explicit act or conduct shall be punished on first conviction with description for a term whihc may extend to five years."

It has been noted that "There is no conclusive data on the number of such crimes in India, especially because they often go unreported." According to IANS, between 2012 and 2014, the circulation of obscene content increased to 104 percent from 2012 to 2014.

How do other countries tackle this?

Countries like UK and Canada have already implemented these laws. While in the UK the punishment can extend to two years and a fine, in Canada depending on the seriousness of the crime it can extend upto five years.

In a recent report by The Times of India, the Ministry of Women and Child Development in India was considering to make the laws more stringent to take stronger steps in this direction, and if amended these laws would be able to curb this menace which psychologically affects women who are often threatened lest they shall have to face humiliation.

In the internet age when information takes less than a second to go viral, where innumerable websites cater to such content, it is not shocking that the abhorrent trend of revenge porn has taken off in India.


Published Date: Jun 02, 2017 04:12 pm | Updated Date: Jun 02, 2017 04:12 pm