THE RISING MENANCE OF PORNOGRAPHY FOR REVENGE by -Harsha Parakh & Arpit Parakh
An individual’s privacy has become priceless these days where people are more interested in looking at their personal space. ‘Revenge Porn’ is used to refer to the crime committed when an individual stalks or misuses someone’s personal and private data. Also, in the recent times of covid pandemic and frequent lockdowns, this has become a new normal. Preventing Revenge Porn is kind of an impossible task.
Revenge Pornography is rapidly growing in India. It has become impossible for an individual to completely protect their privacy in this virtual world. People are very invasive and more interested in knowing what is going in other person’s life. This paper deals with all these issues. It tells what exactly revenge porn is and discusses the history of Revenge Porn and also the laws and provisions made to deal with it. The paper discusses how social media plays a big role in these crimes. With back-to-back lockdowns, people are not able to fulfill their desires and thus get involved in these kinds of acts. This has also resulted in a sudden rise of domestic violence.
Keywords- Revenge Pornography, domestic violence, Online disgracing, harassment, Viral
At an event of Internet and Mobile Association of India (IMAI), Law and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad2 said how famous online platforms like YouTube, WhatsApp and Google are used by people to share contents of sexual nature. Also, he expressed his concerns especially over ‘revenge porn’ which has been talked about only a few times. Although the origin of revenge porn is still not very clear and is in dark lights, but Prasad spoke about the growing instances of revenge porn in today’s times. He showed his concern over how these sexually explicit contents are used to influence, manipulate and shame a person.
People, with utmost interest, look into the intimate relationship of others. This is the dark truth of the society that videos of sexual harassment and other intimate clips are intensely browsed by people. It is a source of great pleasure for them. There is even a very big market for these kinds of images and videos. Quite often, girls of even tender age fall in traps of the people whose only aim is to satisfy their sexual desires. Often, the victim of revenge pornography is not able to raise her voice against the injustice happening to them.
III. REVENGE PORN
“Sexually explicit images of a person posted online without that person’s consent especially as a form of revenge or harassment is Revenge Porn.”3
Appropriation of explicitly seen sexual pictures or recordings of people without their consent is called revenge pornography. The subjects’ knowledge and consent may have been closely connected to the creation of the sexually graphic images or videos by an accomplice, or it may have been done without their knowledge. Not inconsistently the person in question (male or female) has been exposed to sexual brutality, frequently encouraged by opiates (rape drugs) which likewise cause a decreased feeling of agony, inclusion in the devolved sexual demonstration, dissociative impacts and amnesia. The owners of the material may use it to intimidate the subjects into engaging in further sexual acts, coerce them into continuing a relationship or reject them for ending one (in the case of a relationship), keep them silent, destroy their reputation for financial gain. These materials might be used for various vicious motives and acts.
The expression “Revenge Pornography” for the most part alludes to the transferring of this explicitly sexual material to embarrass and scare the subject, who has severed the relationship. The pictures are generally joined by adequate data to identify the imagined individual, normally names and areas, and can incorporate racy declarations, connections to web-based media profiles, street numbers and workplaces. Victims, whose pictures go public cause them agony in the form of work environment separation, digital following or actual assault, can have their lives destroyed subsequently. Given that some firms encourage their employees to hunt for potential sources of awful exposure, many revenge pornography sufferers have lost their jobs and made themselves almost un-hireable. Some academics argue that the term “revenge pornography” should not be used and that it should instead be referred to as “picture-based sexual abuse.”
Many a times, sexual images or video clips without displaying any kind of revenge can be seen. This is different from revenge porn. The most important component for revenge porn is the motive to take revenge. Also, distributing these images and clips not just means to circulate them among a few people, but involves posting it on web. Just uncovering one’s semi-nudes or a swimming outfit picture doesn’t cover this region. The printed picture or the online sharedpictures should contain the victim’s privates, anus or whatever other private organ which isn’t intended to be appeared at any expense to anybody.
The main reason behind the videos and images of revenge porn is to take revenge. A person may make use of the method for various reasons like to coerce the victim to get involved in more sexual activities, to punish them for breaking out of relationship, or to force them to continue the love affair, to demand monetary benefits, to shame or take revenge from them for leaving the relationship.
IV. HISTORY OF REVENGE PORN4
During the 1980s, Hustler magazine started a month highlight the peruses submitted pictures of exposed ladies called “Beaver Hunt”. Beaver Hunt photos were frequently joined by insights concerning the lady, similar to her side interests, her sexual dreams, and now and then her name. Not the entirety of the ladies included in Beaver Hunt presented their own pictures and a few ladies sued the magazine for distributing their photos without their authorization, or without checking data on manufactured assent forms.
After twenty years, Italian scientist Sergio Messina distinguished “realcore sexual entertainment”, another class comprising of pictures and recordings of exes disseminated through Usenet groups. In 2008, novice pornography aggregator XTube started accepting grievances that obscene substance had been posted without subjects’ assent. A few destinations started arranging consensual porn to take after vindicates pornography, just as facilitating “real” client submitted content.
Retribution pornography started gathering global media consideration when Hunter Moore dispatched the site IsAnyoneUp in 2010. The site highlighted client submitted pornography, and was one of the primary destinations to embrace the model started by Beaver Hunt: IsAnyoneUp regularly included recognizing data, like the subjects’ names, bosses, delivers and connections to long range informal communication profiles. Activist Charlotte Laws was the principal individual to stand up against Moore and one of the main individuals to openly uphold vengeance pornography casualties.
Not much incidents could be seen relating to revenge pornography in the 20th century. Its craze was very low in the beginning of 2000s. But in the millennium year, revenge porn took a completely new form. The YouTube, Red Tube and other pornographic websites only became popular after 2005. It was only in the next decade that people got unlimited access to internet and data services. There was a drastic increase in the level of porn viewers in the 2016 when internet became free.
V. HOW DO PORNOGRAPHY AND REVENGE PORNOGRAPHY DIFFER?
It is many a times seen that people consider porn videos and revenge porn videos the same. But this is not so. The main difference between the two is the purpose of the video.5 The videos oriented specifically towards pornography are specially made to upload on internet. While in the case of revenge pornography, the motive to take revenge is the driving force behind uploading these videos.
Next, the objective behind uploading these videos and pictures differ. The motto behind uploading porn videos is to build the position of the pornography stars, to make profits, to set up a name and popularity in the pornography business and so forth. Revenge pornography is transferred for the reasons like offending the person in question, making the video viral, for retribution and some even do this with no assumptions except for the sake of entertainment.
Consent may or may not have been given by the victim in the case of revenge pornography, but in pornography, the subject gives his/her consent wholeheartedly. Mostly, revenge porn involves stalking. Hidden cameras may have been placed in bathrooms, bedrooms or trail room to record intimate content. But in pornography, the whole content is recorded by using high revolution cameras with the permission of the subject matter.
Videos of revenge porn seem very realistic as they are very personal and there is no story line in it. It is the leaked clips of an individual. On the other hand, porn films overstate. They have a story line which is specially made for the public. It has no individuality. Pornography gives them benefit and gains, yet revenge pornography gives them disgrace and despondency. The normal
age time of the victims of revenge porn is around 11-25. By and large, youngsters and grown- ups are the ones who fall into this sinkhole. Pornography has neither age bar nor limitations. The pornography universe has an assortment of individuals in their particular age category.
VI. REVENGE PORN AND COVID -19: A NEW NORMAL?
In recent times, with the covid 19 virus and continuous lockdowns across the world, various new problems and challenges are arising with the passing days. When looking specifically at the condition of women, they are facing extreme hardship. Their conditions are getting bad every day. They are facing trouble in every aspect be it economically, physically, mentally or emotionally. The working women are now burdened with the dual responsibility of managing children as well as performing their office work at home. Many women are facing domestic violence. They are being beaten, sexually molested or forced to certain tasks which they may not want to. In certain cases, they are being treated as animals. They are even being trafficked as sex slaves or for their organs.
Apart from all this, a very less known issue is that of ‘Revenge Porn’6. During lockdowns, it was not possible for lovers to meet each other. This gave rise of various new practices, which were considered as a test of love. It was seen a way to prove love and affection toward one’s partner. This practice was of sharing nudes across net. Earlier, it was common mostly across celebrities. But now most of the young women and girls are struggling from this issue.
Revenge porn, as earlier said, is the uploading of nudes in the form of image or video without the consent of the victim. The motive behind doing this is to take revenge. In covid, because of prolonged distance, there was a spike in breakups. Not just because of distance, but also because of long time couples were spending together, they are not able to adjust, and result is breakups or divorce.
But the focus is on long distance relations. To fulfill their wants and desires, couples engage in sharing their nudes. These nudes get saved in their devices. But if the relationship doesn’t work and breaking up seems to be the last resort, these images and videos become a means to punish the partner for breaking up, or for money, or to shame the person or for just fun. Mostly the women become victim of this crime i.e. Revenge Porn. Their videos and images get uploaded by
their partner in porn sites with their name and some other basic information through which they could be found. This is purely done to take revenge.
This crime was present from a long time but due to this pandemic the intensity of it has increased. The crime has just become more apparent and people have become easy predators this sexual abuse and exploitation. It is very important to address this issue as it has long lasting impacts on the lives of the victim.
VII. LEGAL PROVISIONS AND UNDERLYING PROBLEMS
Laws against ‘revenge porn’ are emerging slowly. With the sudden increase in the cases of ‘Revenge Pornography’, there has been felt a need for a proper law against it. Many nations of the world have come up with laws dealing specifically with this issue. Recent nations include South Africa and Singapore, who passed laws against it in 2019. The Films and Publications Amendment Act7, 2019 of South Africa, it is a crime to proliferate the sexual photographs or films of the hidden parts of an individual, which is shared without their consent and with the sole aim of harming them. The punishment for the same is Rs 150000 with or without imprisonment up to 2 years; and this punishment gets doubled up with the victims is identified in the image or video. The court even asks the state government to treat the victim as a rape survivor and provide adequate compensation and care.
Similarly, in Singapore, the Criminal Law Reform Act8 was passed on 6 May, 2019 and took effect on 1 January 2020. The Act criminalizes Revenge Porn, with a punishment of jail term of maximum 5 years with fines and caning as a sentencing option. And if the person has committed a crime against the victims who is less than 14 years, jail term is mandatory in that case.
Now looking at the case of our country, no such law has been passed. There are no laws in our country which specifically criminalizes ‘Revenge Porn’. In any case, different sections of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) and Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT) are made in use to punish the culprit for the crime. In IT Act, Section 66E, 67 and 67A deal with it. On the other hand, in IPC, the accused is punishable under Sections of 292, 499, 500, 504, 506,509, 354, 354A, 354C and 354D. Imprisonment and fine may vary according to the intensity of the crime. Usually the imprisonment may not increase more than 3 years but there are exceptions when it increased up to 5 years. A good thing about filling complaint in case of Revenge Porn is that, it is no mandatory for the victim to be present at the police station to file the complaint. Anyone can file it on her behalf. Even the victim can ask for a female constable to register the complaint, though there are no official provisions relating to this.
The culprit is punishable under Indian Penal Code 1860 under the following sections:
- Section 292: “Distribution or circulation of obscene material”.
- Section 499: “Act done by a person intending to harm or having a reason to believe the same would harm an individual’s reputation or character”.
- Section 500: “Defaming the concerned ”
- Section 504: “Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the ”
- Section 506: “Punishment for criminal ”
- Section 509: “Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a ”
- Section 354: “Outraging the modesty of a woman”.
- Section 354A: “Sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment”.
- Section 354C: “Voyeurism (Capturing or dissemination of pictures of a woman engaged in a private act without her consent)”
- Section 354D: “Stalking”
The Culprit, under the Information Technology Act is punished under the following Sections:
- Section 66E: “Intentionally capturing and publishing the private area of a person or violating the privacy of a ”
- Section 67: “Transmitting the private media in the electronic form, any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or tends to deprave and ”
- Section 67A: “Stipulated punishment for publishing and transmitting of material containing sexually explicit acts , in electronic form.”
Apart from these laws, there are debates over providing the Right to be Forgotten to the victim of ‘Revenge Pornography’. It was the very first time that this topic came up in the constitutional court. It talked about the right of social media users to be forgotten, and also showed concern over the silence of law on the remedy for victims whose sexually explicit videos or photos get viral on internet just because of their ex lover’s motive to take revenge.
The ‘Right to be Forgotten’ deals with erasing the data when it is no longer of any use or in revocation of the consent of the victim, which is recognized under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)9, the digital privacy law of Europe. Sadly, this concept is not yet recognized in our country.
Justice Panigrahi raised the concern that even though this Right to be Forgotten is in sync with Right to Privacy, which Supreme Court ruled in the K Puttaswamy case to be core to the Right to life given by our Constitution under Article 21. “Allowing such objectionable photos or videos to remain on social media platform, without the consent of a woman, is a direct affront on womansmodesty and, more importantly, on her right to privacy. In such cases, either the victim herself or the prosecution may, if so advised, seek appropriate orders to protect the victims fundamental right to privacy, by seeking appropriate orders to have such offensive posts erased from the public platform, irrespective of the ongoing criminal process”10 said the Orissa High Court during a recent case which for the first time gave punishment to a person for the crime of revenge porn.
Despite the way that none of the laws entirely address revenge pornography, the current laws additionally experience the ill effects of different other significant downsides. One primary issue seen in the recently executed Section 354C of the IPC is that it is gendered in its application and limits its degree to a male guilty party and female casualty. A similar drawback is depicted by Section 509 of the IPC and Section 4 and 6 of the IRWA. Though the IT Act doesn’t give the issue of gender specificity, it experiences a lot graver issue that lies demonstration of inalienable logical inconsistency predominant in the current overall set of laws intended to vindicate pornography. As can be induced prima facie, certain sections, such as Section 67 of the IT Act, can be used even against the victim. It can be used to prosecute the victim by giving the point that she voluntarily took the image or video and sent it to the accused.
VIII. REVENGE PORN: VICTIM’S VIEWS AND JUDICIAL CASES
- A Victim’s Views
Soo many people these days search the web for much more real and natural sex content. But have we ever thought what that person must have felt like whose private parts have become public to the entire world. How it would have felt when a person’s naked body is all over the internet? The most personal and intimate affairs of an individual are revenged just to satisfy ego! A young lady falls into profound mental injury, despondency and anguish when she comes to realize that she had been disgraced and tormented on the web. She gets embarrassed, humiliated and nervousness hits her significantly harder.
The victim suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). With our country being extremely judgmental and secular in nature, the victim suffers from extreme depression if she doesn’t receive proper guidance. She takes a very long time to come back to her normal life and gather courage to fight back. A very sad part is that not only the society but also her loved ones, her family and friends, treat her as outcast. They don’t let her to justify herself and keep doing her character assassination. She feels ashamed and treated like a slut.
Even if she wishers or tries to stand up again and fight for her, every possible force pulls her back and shames her for the incident. Many teenage girls, because of this, drop out of school and college and confine themselves in the four walls as they are afraid of meeting and trusting new people. Neither it is easy nor is it enough for the victim to get back her dignity, respect, freedom and self-esteem back. The society needs to change its views towards the victim. She experiences a life of pain and suffers until she pulls out her strengths back to stand for herself and start her life back again.
- Real Life Experience
A girl was only in class 11th when her photographs in undergarments were shared among her friends. “My legs literally just gave out from under me and I was just sitting on the steps outside of my tuition centre for a good 30-40 minutes with a thousand thoughts rushing through my head,” she says. “A bra picture may not sound like a big deal now with every girl basically posing like that and putting it all over Instagram for followers and likes, but this was before all that became common. These were vicious 16 and 17-year-olds in school.” She didn’t even share this experience with her family, who assumed that she might be in stress because of her exams. “It definitely affected me on a deep level, especially my ability to connect with people in relationships now and fully trust them. It seems like it happened so long ago but it’s still all so fresh” she says”11Another girl, named Aditi Rao, who had just completed 6 months of her first job when her intimate photos were uploaded on the web without her consent.12“We would constantly be fighting and I think our relationship just fizzled out at that point so I broke it off. He started threatening me, saying that if I left him he would send my nude pictures to my parents and family members since he knew all of them. I was scared. We were family friends but my parents are conservative, they didn’t know that we were dating. He knew all the people I workedwith. I spent weeks speaking to him and begging him to delete them. He would say he had but then the next day I’d ignore his call or text and he’d send me the image as this kind of leverage he had over me. It was basically blackmailing. Our common friends told me that he’d sent them pictures of me, laughing and talking trash about me. He had the number of one of my colleagues and he just sent him the picture as well without saying anything. It was mortifying,” says Aditi. Even after they are now on their own ways, she can’t trust the fact completely that his ex-lover must have actually deleted the photos. There is still a fear in her mind and heart that on some bad day he will again post those pictures. This has made her trusting people very difficult. “It has definitely affected my mental health. I can never trust that he’s actually deleted them or possibly still holding on to them. I think about it all the time.”
There are just a few cases which are actually registered to the police or approached to some women organization for help. In almost all the time, victim can’t gather the courage to speak out against it and suffers silently.
- Case Study: State of West Bengal vs AnimeshBoxi13
This case of State of West Bengal V AnimeshBoxi is of great historical importance as it was the first case ever in India when the culprit was convicted for ‘Revenge Porn’. It took place in March 2018. The harsh punishment which was given, displays strong message to committers of
`Revenge Pornography. In this situation, the culprit subsequent to extorting the casualty transferred her offensive pictures on pornography locales. He was charged under Sec 354, 453C, 500, 509 and 44 of the IPC and under Sec 66E, 67, 67A of the IT Act separately. The Court held the accused, 23-year-old, blameworthy for each one of the offenses as charged and condemned him to five years detainment alongside a fine of Rs. 9,000. It additionally requested that the victim be paid remuneration under the state’s Victim Compensation Scheme.
- Case Study: Subhranshu Rout v. State of Odisha1
In this case, the victims and the one who committed the crime were couples. They were in a relationship. One day, with victim being all alone, the preparator went to her house and as he assaulted her, he also recorded the entire incident in his mobile phone. He even threatened and blackmailed her to release the video on social networking sites if she told about this incident to anyone. When she told about all that had happened to her parents, he uploaded all of these videos and photographs on Facebook. In the case, the Court did not grant him bail and said that, “allowing such objectionable photos and videos to remain on social media without her consent is a direct affront on a woman’s modesty and right to privacy.” The Hon’ble Court highlighted the importance of “Right to be Forgotten” (getting data deleted from the server entirely) in the context of Right to Privacy.
IX. PREVENTIVE MEASURE
Revenge Porn is such a crime which is less known and very less discussed. The victim doesn’t even know that she is becoming a victim of revenge porn. These days it has become very common. Reason being that, with no law in specific to deal with it, the committers of this crime have no fear in their heart and mind. The saddest part of this crime is that it can’t be eliminated completely. But, its effect can be minimized at a great extent. It breaks heart just by thinking that a big market is present in our society which encourages these revenge porn videos and images. People even search the web for the same. They don’t even think about what the person in that video or image may feel like. Unless the society doesn’t start thinking from their point of view and act against revenge pornography content, this crime can’t be controlled.
The very first step towards the elimination or controlling revenge porn is the absence of revenge porn content. This is possible when the victim understands whom to trust and whom not to. Trust is the basis because of which a victim sends the images of her/his private parts. The best part is not to share one’s intimate images and photos to anyone.
Even the person uploading such content should think prudently before doing such a task. They should be sensitive enough to understand that no ego is big enough that sending such intimate content in web will only satisfy it. They must think about the person’s sufferings and pain before committing the crime of Revenge Porn.
The law specialists should be simple for the victim to approach and ought not to humiliate her with judgmental contemplations. Numerous victims face whore disgracing particularly in the police headquarters which causes her to feel crushed. The punishment provided to the culprits must be extreme in nature and no kind of delay should be done while dealing with the matter.
The girl gets treatment like she is of cheap culture, by the society, when she becomes a victim of revenge pornography. This toxic thinking of the people needs to be changed. The members of her family, her friends and the whole society should act as support system and give her strength to deal with all the tough situations about to come in her way. Even the government should set up organizations which would help these revenge porn victims legally as well as mentally and emotionally.
Also, the porn web sites having videos and images of the victim of revenge porn should act immediately by removing the content. They should delete all such sexual content which were added in their site without the consent of the person concerned.
X. SOCIAL MEDIA AND REVENGE PORN
The fastest means to share information these days is through social media. Information spreads like wild fire through social networking sites. This information can either be positive or negative. Thus, it is through these sites that the revenge porn content becomes viral. Directly or indirectly, social media is the first source for these intimate contents. If social media is kept under check, then revenge porn can be eliminated greatly. Now a days there are so many social networking sites available like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, Telegram, etc.
Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg solved this problem and made certain solutions for emerging problems.15 He identified the profiles of those who shared or promoted or encouraged these types of content and ended this issue. Though the problem didn’t end completely, but was greatly reduced. He even warned them that they would face legal issue. Twitter too did the same thing. These two are the only networking sites which have reduced the issue of Revenge Porn to a large extent.
YouTube doesn’t allow access to adult content if the view is under the age of 18. Adult content is also only up to some extent. If it is too sensitive, the owner of that channel is warred and asked to remove the video. Social Networking sites are more misused than used properly. Twitter and Facebook restrict such content to some extent; hence people look out for other platforms to share their information.
WhatsApp allows just somewhat. A definitive exchange instrument for recordings under the branch of Revenge erotic entertainment is Telegram. Telegram is a late discovered application which is utilized as an option for WhatsApp. It nearly has each and every fundamental element from WhatsApp and added some additional highlights which in WhatsApp don’t exist like downloading documents regardless of the record size and so on. A vast majority of the Telegram users use it for downloading films from pilfered sources and for peeping into the video contents of the vengeance erotic entertainment victims. No matter how large is the file; one can download it from here. Also, telegram is highly encrypted. Not even the developers will know what two people are chatting and sharing in Telegram. This makes the sharing of revenge porn content extremely easy and safe here. Telegram on its own doesn’t support such kind of content, but it is misused by its users. To stop this, detectives came up with the solution. A group of 433 detectives got added into certain groups which they found suspicious. They spent a few months in it and identified and dragged some culprits. According to sources, they were 12 in all, who were arrested and sentenced.16
With regards to Instagram, one can’t straightforwardly transfer the video/photograph in personal Instagram accounts if the substance is excessively touchy. Whenever transferred thus, the video, yet in addition the current ID will become inaccessible for all time.
So, social networking sites can play both positive and negative role in this crime. The developers must be aware about these issues and problems which can arise and should be ready with solutions to combat them.
Online disgracing isn’t just a wrongdoing yet in addition a toxin that savagely wrecks the existences of numerous individuals. In India, laws ought to be made explicitly against vengeance pornography and the crooks ought to be rebuffed seriously to remove it from the country.
Revenge Porn is such a crime which can never be completely eliminated. Even if it gets removed from the web, how can it be removed from the memories and thinking of the all those people who saw the videos and pictures of the victim. Hence for that, there should be change in mentality of the people. A supportive environment must be established which would encourage the victim to fight against such situations. There is a direct connection between the number of views and the quantity of content posted on web. If the views are kept low, the culprits won’t be encouraged to post such contents.
Hence, if the watchers begin showing some kindness towards the people in question, the creator will decrease his activities due to low support and no consideration. A definitive control of
1 Student at Disha Law College, Raipur & LL.M Candidate at NLUO Respectively.
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14Subhranshu Rout v. State of Odisha BLAPL No.4592 OF 2020
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