Upswing of Social Media, Cybercrimes, and Women Safety

By : Dr Shalini Yadav

(Professor, Writer & Editor) 

In today's world, where Internet has become an inseparable part of our lives, cybercrime is a growing concern for women's safety and security. With the rise of technology, women are often targeted by cybercriminals who use various online platforms to harass, abuse, or exploit them.

Cybercrime is defined as any criminal activity that uses a computer, network, or other digital technology. It includes a wide range of offenses, such as online harassment, stalking, identity theft, phishing, and hacking, sextortion etc.

The Indian Penal Code, of 1860 and the Information Technology Act of 2000 cover cybercrimes in our country. The Information Technology Act 2000 which got amended in 2008 defines cybercrime and and details about the punishment fo it.

Cybercriminals are getting smarter, and they are using various tools and techniques with humanistic touch at times if required to target women over Internet and at times they get into the nerves and lives such as it becomes herculean for victimized women to get rid of them as they come in lives in many disguises. 

Hence women are considered emotionally weak who want more attention, compliments and love, they become intensely vulnerable to cybercrime, and usually share more personal information online trusting anyone blindly and easily. Such information may include sensitive data, obscene pictures, long love chats or videos, which can be used against them in cybercrimes.

Last year in Mohali, Punjab how videos were leaked of girl students in a hostel and no doubt it was an alarming situation to look into how cybercrime is increasing day by day.

Women are often subjected to offensive messages, sexual comments, and even threats, which can cause severe emotional distress and at times they go in such a critical mental zone where they don’t share such stress with any of family members or friends and commit suicide.

The upswing of social media has further fashioned an avenue for cybercriminals to quarry on women. Women use social media platforms to share their daily lives, connect with friends and family, and even try to grab job opportunities. However, this makes them more vulnerable to cyber threats, as their personal information is easily accessible to cybercriminals.

The impact of cybercrime can be devastating for women. It can cause emotional trauma, affect their mental health, and even ruin their reputation. Cybercrime is not only harmful to individuals, but it also affects society as a whole. It creates a sense of fear and insecurity amongst women, limiting their freedom to express themselves online.

Here are some examples of cybercrime in the context of women in India:

1. Cyberstalking: Cyberstalking is a type of online harassment where the victim is followed, threatened, or harassed through the Internet. In India, many women have reported incidents of cyberstalking, where their online platforms are often used to stalk and harass them. It’s quite trendy nowadays that boys or men with fake profiles keep pursuing and stalking. 

2. Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying involves using digital technology to harass, intimidate or humiliate someone. Women in India, especially young girls, have been victims of cyberbullying. They receive threatening messages or images online, which can cause severe emotional distress.

3. Fake profiles and identity theft: Women's personal information is often used to create fake profiles on social media or dating sites. These fake profiles are then used to scam or deceive others. Women in India have reported cases where their photos or personal information have been used to create fake profiles by cybercriminals.

4. Hacking: Hackers can gain access to personal or sensitive data by using malicious software or phishing techniques. Women in India have been the targets of hackers who steal their financial information or personal data to use for nefarious purposes.

5. Revenge pornography: Revenge pornography involves sharing intimate images or videos of someone without their consent. In India, many women have become victims of revenge pornography, which can lead to severe emotional trauma and damage to their reputation and become the reason of unnatural death in many cases.

6. Online financial fraud: Women in India are often targeted for online financial fraud. In recent years, there has been an increase in cybercriminals tricking women into providing their bank details or other sensitive financial information, leading to significant monetary losses.

Through online connections gradually they reach till home and life knowing everything about target women. Trapping into love relationship, sexual encounters and then money borrowing, stealing things from houses and gifting to other women targets to allure and seduce them is extremely common. Such people keep parallel relations with many women and choose the targets wisely. These targets generally are selected from different town, cities, and states so that they never come to know about each other.

Brutal cases happen such as Shraddha murder case due to women being too emotional and not so bold to come out of such relationships on time. Recently an aged woman is cut into pieces for few lakhs in Hyderabad. Wholeover the country, such crimes against women are increasing day by day.

Registered cases of cybercrime against women across the country shows a constant rise from 3-4 years. According to data provided by  In the Lok Sabha, the data which the government shared tells that 8,415 cases were registered in 2019, further increased to 10,405 in 2020, 10,730 in 2021 and kept increasing in 2022. State government and centre government need to be more vigilant in such matters.

Though movies like The Kerala Story tries to make girls and women of the country aware about such heinous crimes and double faces people to identify and stay away, yet it seems hyping and targeting one specific religion people who are involved in manipulating girls for conversion of religion through trendy love jihad but unfortunately these cybercriminals have no religion. They can be any- Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Parsi or Christian. They can be Pareek or Pathan, Sethi or Saiman, Tushar or Toufiq surrounding us in our areas or from the cyber world, moreover they can be from any sophisticated profession such as teaching, journalism, medical or engineering etc.

To ensure women's safety and security, it is essential to raise awareness about cybercrime. Women must be educated on the dangers of sharing too much personal information online and urged to practice safe online behaviors. Institutions and governments should also take proactive steps to prevent and address cybercrime and deliver lectures and workshops in the regard.

Women and girls should be encouraged to report any instances of cybercrime they experience. Cybercrime is a serious offense, and perpetrators should be held accountable for their actions. It is necessary to create a safe and secure online environment for women to express themselves freely without fear of harassment and even offline too. 

Hence, at times, these people be acquaintance from social media and start entering into your personal life, come to your city to meet you, see your place, stay with you, eat with you, sleep with you and try to build a trustworthy relationship. They may marry you or start a live-in relationship. Initially they may show that they are true and honest people and care for you calling you wife. They may pay all bills and take care of expenditures but gradually you will start seeing their true colours when they start demanding money, they force you to book their tickets, they may ask you to buy gifts for them and they may ask you to buy food from Zomato or Swiggy residing in other cities.

Sonakshi Sinha Starrer Web series Dahaad on Amazon Prime is a good show which women and girls should see to remain alert and audacious to deal with such people disguise. There are various such short movies on OTT platforms, which keep giving messages to safeguard girls and women. Moreover media houses should come at forefront to protect and spread awareness among grown up girls and women.

To conclude, I would say cybercrime against women in India is a thoughtful apprehension that needs to be highlighted and addressed. It is essential to create awareness and educate women about safe online behavior, including the dangers of sharing too much personal information online. Institutions and the government should take proactive measures to prevent and address cybercrime, ensuring women's safety and security while using digital technology. By working together in a chain making more and more women and girls aware about such crimes and people, we can create a safer and more secure online environment for our women and limit the impact of cybercrime on our society.