Cyber world is a golden cage


Shraddha, 23, an IT professional was absolutely shocked when her fiancé called off their engagement after he saw some 'disturbing' pictures of her on the Internet. A depressed Shraddha then approached the police after she found out that the pictures were lifted off from her account on a social networking site and morphed by her ex-boyfriend.

As great as it is to be in the middle of all the action, the cyber world is a golden cage for women. From phone numbers being misused to photographs being morphed, women are harassed day in and day out in the virtual world in a 100 different ways.

Experts at the cyber crime wing are worried about the alarming increase in the cases of cyber stalking reported by women, a form of mental harassment in which a person is followed and pursued online. Cyber stalking usually occurs with women, who are stalked by men and their privacy is invaded, their every move watched.

“It causes a lot of mental trauma, and can disrupt the life of the victim and leave them feeling very afraid and threatened," says a senior official of the cyber crime department attached to the Central Crime Branch (CCB).

“While there were hardly a couple of complaints of accounts being hacked a few years ago, the cyber crime wing nowadays receives a minimum of five to six such complaints about online harassment in a month from women,” said the official.

“A cyber stalker does not have to leave his home to find, or harass his targets, and has no fear of physical violence since he believes he cannot be physically touched in cyberspace,” added the official.
“He may be on the other side of the earth or a neighbour or even a relative. So it is essential to be cautious on the Internet,” the official said.

It is easy to ‘follow’ a woman on a social networking site and collect enough personal details about her.

“One should be very careful while choosing friends on the social networking site and one should be able to distinguish the genuine friends from the fake ones,” said a 24-year-old woman who recently sought the help of the city police to keep her Facebook friend Robert Francis, 31, a resident of Anna Nagar, behind bars after he jilted her and cautioned women to be cautious about choosing friends on social networking sites.

Policewomen not spared lewd calls

Obscene phone calls made to women by miscreants are also on the rise as the cyber wing sleuths record many complaints regularly. The police said that they received at least 50 complaints of obscene calls every month.

“In most number of cases, the complainants don’t want the cops to register a case and just seek to solve the problem. In such circumstances, the cops just call up the caller and warn the person. Most of them stop the harassment, but if the person continues to make obscene calls, then he would have to face the music,” police sources said.

The police say that most of the complainants are those who display their numbers in the open to increase their customer base.

“Persons with pervasive nature note down the number of the women and harass them. Particularly women running beauty parlours who display their numbers on ad boards, become easy targets,” said a police official.

Interestingly, even women police personnel at the control room are not spared.

“A few months ago, some men called up 100 and spoke in an offensive way to women cops, who usually answer the calls. Such irresponsible attitude makes the distress callers wait to contact the cops for help or pass on information,” the police said.

They said women should be cautious and never hesitate to lodge a complaint to bring the culprit to book.

“Registering of a case in such nuisance complaints depends on the discretion of the victims. The women should be wary of sharing their mobile numbers to prevent such calls,” said Coimbatore police commissioner A.K. Viswanathan.

Women’s online safety hits nadir

A few days ago, Radha, a young teacher of a private college on Varadarajapuram Road, Coimbatore, had the shock of her life when she constantly received calls from unknown men seeking sexual favours.

Perplexed over the continuous ‘sex calls’ that she received for three days, the 25-year-old unmarried woman dared to ask one of the callers from where he sourced her number. The person told her about the information posted on a website which revealed her as a prospective sex worker looking for customers.

“After spending sleepless nights over the tormenting calls, Radha, at one point of time, even switched off her mobile. She had received at least 50 calls in a matter of three days. Finally, she gathered all her wits to seek the help of cyber crime wing sleuths,” the police said. The cops acted swiftly and removed the indecent content from the website giving some relief to the woman.

But, this is not an isolated case as the city cyber wing has been receiving several such complaints from women. “We receive at least five such complaints in a month from victims on their mobile numbers being misused and posting of morphed photos on websites,” said a cop, preferring anonymity.

The police said most of the persons involved in such offences are youngsters, particularly college students. For instance, a private college student from Sungam morphed and posted the picture of his ex-girl friend on a website to take revenge for her decision to snap ties with him.

Though the cops receive constant complaints, they are totally helpless in bringing the culprits to book. “It’s really difficult to know the IP address of any website, which is essential to know the source of information. Hence, in most cases, the culprits go scot-free,” said a cop attached to the cyber crime wing.

However, it was for the first time that the city cops managed to locate a 17-year-old missing boy in Mumbai by seeking the help of a nodal officer of Facebook in Netherlands. Besides this, the city’s cyber wing sleuths are also receiving cases of online cheating like online lotteries and announcing attractive prizes and net banking frauds.

“Most of the complaints dealt with are nuisance calls and a few cases on pornographic content,” said CoP A.K. Viswanathan.

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