Non-consensual Porngraphy or “Revenge Porn”

“He started threatening me, saying that if I left him he would send my nude pictures to my parents and family members since he knew all of them… He had the number of one of my colleagues and he just sent him the picture as well without saying anything. It was mortifying,” says Aditi*, while talking about the threats she receives from her ex-boyfriend. She is afraid that he might still threaten her about sending her sexually graphic images to her friends, family and colleagues as she cannot verify whether he has deleted them or not.

Does this sound familiar? According to a 2016 survey by Cyber and Law Foundation, 27% of internet users aged 13 to 45 have been victims of revenge porn in India. But this happens more frequently than you’d imagine. While there are no official statistics on the issue in India as the law doesn’t explicitly recognise it as a crime, according to a global study, India is amongst the top 10 countries for sextortion**. Moreover, 1 in 4 kids engage in sexting, increasing their chances of being victims of revenge porn.

What is Revenge Porn?

It refers to the distribution of sexually explicit images of individuals without their permission. It is usually done by a former partner in order to cause them distress or embarrassment. The source of this crime lies in the power which the male partner holds over the victim as he can make her body accessible for public consumption or male gaze. But it is not limited to the ex-partner as the motive may not be to seek revenge or any other personal feeling towards the victim. Even a hacker can get access to sexually graphic images from someone’s phone or computer and then threaten to share it with their friends, family or employers. And so, many prefer to call it “non-consensual pornography”. Many feminist scholars find the term “revenge porn” itself problematic as the word “porn” as it denotes something that is a “private visual material” to be “public content meant for mass consumption”. So they use the term, “image based sexual abuse” instead.

What impact can it have on the victim’s status in society?

Revenge Porn can not only hamper the victim’s relationships with their friends and family, but also their career. This is because in a country like India, the victim of sexual harassment is blamed or worse slutshamed. Here, a women facing sexual harassment is seen as an insult to family honor. Due to this culture of shame, victims often hesitate to talk to their family and friends, let alone report it to the Police. Even the Police often blame the victim instead of doing their job of filing the complaint, collecting evidence and prosecuting the perpetrator. For instance, Namrata’s* colleagues received her intimate photos from her ex-boyfriend saying that she was “a woman of dubious morals and that they should be wary of associating with her”. There is a clear connection being drawn between her sexually graphic photos and her character. As a result, she was scared of going to the police station because she “could not find the courage of showing the evidence to a male officer or go to a thana full of policemen” as she could only imagine “a bunch of men sniggering and laughing” at her plight. And so, many victims have to change their schools, colleges or workplaces or worse have their phones confiscated and movement restricted.

Mental trauma faced by the victim

All of this puts a lot of psychological trauma on the victim. In most cases it takes time for the victim to reach a place where she can start sexting or share images through WhatsApp or Snapchat (which is a preferred medium since messages disappear after a few seconds). And so, the mental trauma of the trust being broken might be greater as it is hard for the victim to imagine someone who they know for so long to break that trust.

What can we do about it?

India does not have a specific law for revenge porn. But such cases can be booked under sections 509, 499,299 and 354C of the Indian Penal Code. And so, one can file a report to the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal: Call 155260. One can also file an online complaint on the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal: https://cybercrime.gov.in/.

Moreover, we can take preventative measures like:

  1. Using safer and privacy protecting communication platforms like Signal.
  2. Use a password manager like LastPass or Dashlane that secures your photos and messages from hackers.
  3. Reviewing the privacy settings on your social media accounts so that you don’t give access to your personal information to strangers. For instance, make your account private on Instagram, so that you can control who can see your posts and pictures.
  4. Finally, limit the amount of sensitive content you share online, even if you trust your partner.

If you want to know more, head over to https://reclaimyourprivacy.in/revenge_porn.php where you can also find some more hacks to prevent such crimes from happening to you.

*names of the victims have been changed

**where the cybercriminal threatens to share explicit images to friends and family if they don’t send over money

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Reclaim Your Privacy

Reclaim Your Privacy

5 Followers

#ReclaimYourPrivacy works to empower people with relevant information that helps them safeguard their digital selves. Visit, https://reclaimyourprivacy.in/