Cyber-Crime Complaints Double In A year; Surge In Social Media Related Complaints

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Ketaki Latkar-Mahajan

Pune, December 31, 2020: From 7,795 cyber-crime complaints that were received by city’s cyber-crime cell last year, the number has almost doubled and reached 14,759 this year. Of the complaints received, shares Bhagyashree Navtake, DCP (cyber-crime and EOW), a sizeable number is that of cases stemming from social media encounters.

The recent case of sexual harassment and alleged rape that was filed by a 26-year old woman against a romantic acquaintance whom she met on a dating app, reaffirms the gravity of the problem and raises questions about digital conduct.

Adds Navtake, “Social media is a part of our lives today. But whether it is online or offline, being mindful is of paramount importance. Before deciding to meet someone you’ve only met online, it very important to run a thorough background check on the other person. Also, it is advisable to not meet someone in a private or secluded place for the first time.”

While violence may not be a common consequence of disagreeable online encounters, instances of cyberbullying, blackmailing, stalking, extortion, and harassment are on a rise. Speaking about the said incident, Advocate Vijayalaxmi Khopade Khopade highlights how critical it is to understand the factor of free consent, and that consent can be withdrawn at any stage of encounters, “Brutality, rape and violence cannot be answers to withdrawn consent,” she asserts.

In the last six months, Khopade has dealt with 10 digital crime cases, of which one of the cases involves a couple that met on a dating site. Shares she, “The couple met, spent time together and then things took a bad turn. Now, the woman has filed a case for rape against the man, on the grounds of him having broken the promise to marry her. These kinds of cases have become very common, and the primary reason is blindly trusting the online information presented by the other party, without doing any background checks.”

In a digital space, there is immense freedom, and for many, dating apps and socialising forums are escape grounds, where they think they can pose as someone else, by creating an alternate identity.

Elaborates psychologist Swarali Marathe, “Not everyone is real and transparent on digital dating forums. Also, people who have not found love and companionship because of behaviour issues or personality disorders may also be on these apps. So, one needs to be very careful while using these services and sites. Also, violence and rape are little about sexual desire and more about power play. There is a need to be especially careful before falling prey to misogynistic impulses of online predators.”