Almost all of us have come across the problem: harassment in cyber space and over the electronic gadgets that have now become a part of our lives. Women are the most vulnerable to this and everyday brings new stories. In the worst cases girls have had to change educational institutions because of remarks or photographs posted on a website or circulated over email or phone messaging services. Women have quit work for similar reasons. Under these circumstances the Prevention of Electronics Crimes Act proposed by the government, which lays down a one-year term in jail for anyone found harassing a woman in this fashion is an important step forward. The draft law is to be tabled soon before parliament.
Cyber harassment is a global problem, but in our society has additional implications with women especially vulnerable because of their status in society and the pressures that can so quickly mount on them from their families, as the result of comments texted in or photo-shopped pictures placed on the internet. The impact of the new law, once it makes its way onto the statute books as we hope will happen, is for now impossible to predict. Yes, the law should be there. But will it be implemented? Will police have the know-how and the will to track down culprits hiding behind false identities and possibly disguising IP addresses? Also, will women or the guardians of minor girls complain – given the fears of stigma or further embarrassment? Despite these problems, the law is an important one. It should act as a deterrent to at least some degree and offer women the protection they badly need in an age where technology has made harassment easier and all the more dangerous.