Revenge Porn
© Love Matters | Rita Lino

Revenge Porn

By definition, online distribution and circulation of pornographic content of an individual by their partner or anyone else, comes under the category of revenge porn.

What is it?

Online distribution and circulation of private/pornographic content of an individual by their partner or anyone else, comes under the category of revenge porn. Once on social media or porn sites, the pictures can be viewed by millions of people. In addition to that, the person getting revealed in the content may or may not have consented to be clicked or video-graphed. Sharing screenshots of sexts or actual sext data will also fall under revenge porn. 

How does it happen?

There are different ways for revenge porn to get out there in the public. One way is the spreading of personally shared messages, images and video clips that you sent to your partner or anybody else. The second way is when your willfully recorded and stored material is stolen by hacking into your online storage and digital devices. 

Why does it happen?

The reason for online posting someone’s naked pictures, sexually explicit texts and hidden camera videos can vary from jealousy to seeking money. By circulating the intimate pictures on porn sites or other networks, the ex-lover sometimes believes that he/she can take ‘revenge’ from his/her former partner. Thus the name - revenge porn. 

Once the pictures/videos are online, it can be very difficult to track down every website on which they have been shared to get them removed. This violates the victim’s privacy over and over and subjects her/him to extreme mental trauma.

Often it has been seen that previous partners are the culprits and in some cases of celebrities, hackers were involved. Whatever be the case or reason, the factor of ‘exacting revenge’ from a person is the drive for such actions. 

How to prevent it?

The best way to is to keep any digital and physical proofs of you having sex or taking a topless selfie to only and only yourself. Also, sexting with people and sending them intimate visual content when you’re not sure about them in terms of trust, is not advised. Even if you are making a video or taking pictures with a trusted partner, it’s best to make sure your face is never visible. Then you will not be recognisable if the picture or video do end up on the internet.

How to cope with the aftermath?

It is obviously hard to mentally deal with the consequences of an act you didn’t commit and were not aware of. Under such circumstances, having a close friend or a family member by your side will give you the courage to seek legal help. You may also seek counselling on how to approach for legal help as well as on coping with it psychologically. 

 

What can you do – Protection under Indian law 

If someone has shared your bedroom affairs online non-consensually, contacting cyber cell and online reporting of that content will be the best way to proceed. If you have received threats and blackmails using such material, lodging police complaint will be appropriate. In case such content comes in your sight while using the Internet, taking its screenshot and saving its link will be of use while reporting it.

Revenge porn is a crime in India. If someone creates a porn using your intimate pictures, you can file a police complaint against them. There are several provisions of the IT Act and Indian Penal Court (IPC) to compensate you. You can write to Instagram/Facebook/YouTube  and report this as a crime – they are known to take pretty strong action by taking the post down and banning the person who indulges in revenge porn. 

In 2018, an Indian court sentenced a 23-year-old man from Bengal to five years in jail and slapped him with a fine of Rs 9,000 for uploading objectionable pictures and videos of a girl on the Internet. This was the first case of revenge porn conviction in India. The judge also directed the state government to treat the 20-year-old complainant as a rape survivor and grant compensation accordingly. 

Though there is no law in India specific to the term ‘revenge porn’ but the accused can be booked under different provisions of various laws. Under the Indian Penal Code, the accused can be booked for defamation (Section 500) criminal intimidation (Sections 504 and 506), outraging the modesty of a woman (Section 354) and sexual harassment (Section 354A). 

Under the IT Act, Section 66E stipulates punishment for violation of privacy. Sections 67 and 67A of the IT Act are against the publishing and circulation of obscene or lascivious content. Section 67 can land a person in jail for up to five years and/or fine the offender upto INR 1 lakh. For 67 A, the jail term is seven years and the penalty is the same. 

Revenge porn also violates the right to privacy of a person. The recent Supreme Court judgment recognising privacy as a fundamental right makes a case strong.  The judgment recognises revenge porn and non-consensual pornography in light of arguments recognising the right to bodily integrity. 

Survivors of revenge porn can also use copyright law particularly when the content is a selfie. By claiming a violation of their copyright, a survivor could potentially get such material taken down. The offender is liable for punishment for a jail term upto 3 years along with a fine of a maximum of two lakh rupees. 

While a specific law to criminalise it will help, it is also the attitude that needs to change. Shaming of the survivor should not be tolerated and replaced by proving the support to the person who undergoes this trauma. If the law enforcement agencies support the survivor, the perpetrators can be booked.  

Reporting to online platforms 

You can also approach the online platforms - Facebook, Instagram, Google or YouTube requesting them to remove the content. It can take some time but platforms are becoming stricter and take action by taking the post down and banning the person who indulges in revenge porn.

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