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Revenge Porn Victims Seeking Advice? Here’s Laws, Legal Options to Help You

Revenge porn is when private, intimate images, often of a sexual nature, are uploaded or shared without the person’s consent.

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Within the confines of her house, Sumitra (name changed) decides to click some pictures of herself, in the nude. Once on her phone, the cloud service she uses has automatically uploaded the photographs there. She then proceeds to delete the pictures from her cellphone not realising that they are already stored for posterity elsewhere.

Since she assumed she had deleted the pictures, she forgets about it and goes on with her life. Almost three months later she receives a forward on Whatsapp of a picture of what looks like her bare back. She then frantically scurries around to check how this happened.

Just a little probing reveals that an angry ex-partner having accessed the cloud is using these pictures to blackmail her. Other than perhaps reasoning it out with the ex-partner, here’s a look at what she can do using the law.

The Better India spoke to Advocate Puneet Bhasin, cyber-law expert to understand the legal recourse the victim has.

Puneet says, “Cases of this nature are termed as ‘revenge porn’, which is an offence in our country. The transmission and creation of such content is an offence under the Information and Technology Act (IT Act)”

Puneet goes on to explain, “An act of this nature also outrages the modesty of a woman and hence will be punishable under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) provision as well. It is important that the victim, in such cases, file a First Information Report (FIR). This is followed by an enquiry that the police conducts and then files a charge sheet.”

“In a majority of the cases I have encountered, the matter gets resolved before reaching the trial stage.”

Adv. Puneet Bhasin

The National Crime Records Bureau data suggests that between 2012 and 2014 there was a 104 percent rise in the “transmission of obscene content in electronic form”.

What is revenge porn?

Revenge porn is when private, intimate images, often of a sexual nature, are uploaded or shared without the person’s consent. These pictures are usually shared by former partners, and jilted lovers to seek revenge. It is also used to shame, intimidate, or blackmail the person in the images to either get back in their life, or for sexual favours.

It is, therefore, the non-consensual publication of sexually explicit (nude or semi-nude) images online, as a tool for seeking revenge.

Representational image
Photo Source

What laws can help?

Revenge porn is both a form of sexual harassment as well as an encroachment upon an individuals right to privacy.

As mentioned above, the provisions of the Information and Technology (IT) Act, 2000 prohibit the publication and distribution of obscene and sexually explicit material respectively. The IT Act also prescribes the punishment for violation of privacy and explicitly forbids capturing, publishing or transmitting ‘the image of a private area of any person without his or her consent’, wherein a maximum punishment of up to three years can be levied.

The victim can also privately file a defamation case against the accused under the provisions of the IPC. Charges will depend on what kind of pictures is shared. The sentence can range from one to three years with bail if convicted. Additionally, victims can also treat this offence as criminal intimidation and file charges.

What are other countries doing?

Israel has brought out a specific Anti-Revenge Porn Law, and in the US, 38 states have criminal laws against revenge porn. Countries like United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, and Japan have very specific revenge porn laws. Many of these rules extend revenge porn from a distribution of an intimate image to include the creation of, and threats to distribute, those photos.

Google had published a policy last year stating that they would honour requests of those who have been victims of “revenge porn” and remove nude or sexually explicit images shared without their consent from Google Search results.

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