MUMBAI: Data released by the NCRB shows that in Maharashtra, blackmailing women online has seen an increase over the last few years. Another interesting data that has emerged from the study is that matrimonial fraud, customs or gift fraud, card fraud, online cheating and forgery account for the maximum number of cybercrime against women. These offences fall under the miscellaneous category, with 815 cases registered in 2018, 990 in 2019, 1,142 in 2020, and 1,120 in 2021.
According to cyber psychologist Nirali Bhatia, most criminals are driven by vengeance or sadistic pleasures. Revenge on their minds and the anonymity that the internet provides are the main reasons for cyber offences against women and children. “Feeling powerful having control over another is what makes the whole act pleasurable for these criminals. The internet has just made it easy for them to spot and approach their targets. Maximum crimes against women are sexual. Power or control is a major element of sex,” Bhatia explained.
On the low conviction rate, cyber lawyer Dr Prashant Mali said the reason was 3-fold—issues involving police, the judiciary and the government. “Police are not supported by national and global agencies in collecting evidence from offshore. Cyber and normal law and order maintaining police should be different. Judges are given training, but adjournments and poor understanding of defence lawyers delay the matter. As for the government, it is still to provide infrastructure for establishing a separate cyber court to handle cyber criminal matters in cities of Maharashtra, especially Mumbai. Understanding of electronic evidence, its usage and production is poor among police. Maharashtra has initiated training activities, but it will take time,” Mali said, suggesting that recruiting computer engineers or computer science graduates as police officers can solve problems faster.
Former DGP D Sivanandhan believes cyber police and educational institutes should create more awareness programmes for youngsters on the merits and demerits of internet. Also, cyber police force should be upgraded with the latest software and hardware so that it can be on a par with cyber criminals.
State cyber SP Sanjay Shintre said anonymity was the prime reason cybercriminals committed offences. “The offences are mainly for extortion, physical pleasure and abuse. The key aspects are enjoying scaring and threatening others online. Women victims of such offences can directly register cases through the website, cybercrime.gov.in,” he said.
Meanwhile, a study by professor Priyanka and assistant professor Sanjeev Kumar of Career Point University, HP, on cybercrime against women has showed the reasons for the rise in cases can be categorised into legal and sociological. While the protection given to women by the law is general, most crimes go unreported due to reasons such as hesitation on the part of the victims.