Revenge porn makes a deep impact on the mental and emotional well-being of the victims.

We have heard that ‘Everything fair in love and war’. What happens when love ceases to exist and differences start creeping in a relationship? Is everything still fair? This is in reference to a growing problem called revenge porn. You might think that it is a sex tape or sexual act like most porn clips are. No, it is not. What is it then?

‘Revenge porn’ is the act of sharing morphed or un-morphed photographs of an ex-lover with the intent to bring shame and humiliation to him/ her. These photographs are usually intimate and originally meant for persons who were in a relationship. In cases of revenge porn, these photographs are shared on social media and online platforms without the consent of the person.

Why do people do it?

The human mind is like a complex labyrinth, some areas of which are still in the dark. The weird interplay of emotions and inherent criminal tendencies results in the vengeful nature of humans.

In most cases of revenge porn, the perpetrator wants to teach a lesson to an ex-lover. These people may or may not threaten the victim prior to sharing their sensitive photographs. Almost every jilted lover who resorts to this form of harassment wants to take revenge.

There is another category of people who resort to this hideous act. They morph the faces of the victim on another person’s body and circulate the photograph on porn sites and other online platforms. To the viewer, they look like photographs of the victim.

How does revenge porn affect the victims?

Needless to say, revenge porn makes a deep impact on the mental and emotional well-being of the victims. Many victims experience trauma and associated mental problems like sleep disorders, nightmares, and a constant feeling of guilt.

Yet another serious impact of revenge porn is that the victim may have trouble trusting other people. This may hamper future relationships and cordial social interaction.

Social stigma is another direct outcome of this situation for the victims. They fear that their photographs have dented their family’s reputation and made them outcasts. Social ridicule and ostracization of the victims are also not uncommon. In short, revenge porn may result in creating an upheaval in the victim’s life, just as the perpetrator wants.

What does the law say?

In India, Sections 67 and 67A of the IT Act tackle revenge porn. These sections pertain to unscrupulous sharing of obscene material online. These sections carry a jail term for up to seven years and a fine up to INR One Lakh. There is a catch though. The victim may also be booked because of being involved in the transmission of sexually explicit content. Although there have been no cases where victims have been booked, the crime does require a more defined law.

Section 66E, pertaining to the use and sharing of peoples’ private photographs without their consent, can also be used for some cases. Also, some cases fall under Section 500. This particular section deals with defamation.

The accompanying legal fallacies

These laws do not address the problem for the kind of impact it makes- breaching the modesty of the victim. With increasing use of mobile phones and the fickle nature of the world wide web, such content can reach millions of people within seconds.

In addition, revenge porn crimes and sexual harassment cases are treated differently by the law. The impact of revenge porn is no less than a direct sexual attack because victims often feel physically violated by this crime.

The absence of clear guidelines in the matter is yet another loophole. For example, the laws don’t mention that female officers will handle cases of female victims. This is a major reason that prevents many victims from approaching the police.

How to address the problem?

Like for any other social issue, mutual efforts by the people and the lawmakers can control revenge porn. While it is obvious that these crimes will not happen people handle failed relationships better, there is a need for more defined laws.

Amendments in the law should address the following issues:

  • Removal of obscene content from the online source
  • Harsher punishment for perpetrators
  • Defined guidelines for supporting victims

Easy access to the internet and photography tools has led to an indiscriminate increase in cyber-crimes. However, the judicial system should treat cases of revenge porn as a separate matter because of the nature of the impact they have on the victim.

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