Online harassment is one of the biggest problems that exist in the 21st century India. And in a time where everyone has a free time to do whatever they want, most of the time spent were for the wrong reasons. During the Covid, the cases of Online Harassment skyrocketed like 5 times which could undermine the new and so called “work from home culture”.Because of this not only it affects women physically but it affects them mentally and psychologically.
Let’s give an example of the Agrima Joshua situation. A stand-up comedian mada e a joke about Shivaji Maharaj 2-3 years and her set was thrashed by the mob during Covid and because of the angry mob, she was forced to apologised for it. Then a YouTuber named Subham Mishra takes a big step further and starts giving rape threats to the comedian over a joke that was made 2 years ago. He was eventually arrested by Vadodara Police for making such threats. But Subham Mishra is merely a symptom, the actual source is Hindustani Bhau, an internet personality who was also accused of sending rape threats to women in the name of Patriotism. And this is becoming a huge problem in this country.
The Rhea Charkroborty case was the pinnacle of when women’s rights were thrown out of window. Rhea was the girlfriend of the now deceased actor Sushant Singh Rajput. After the latter’s death people were making conspiracy theories about his death and Rhea became the new target for the mob’s anger. Not only was she harassed by the TRP vultures (media) but she has received online rape threats and death threats. Because of this, people have been questioning the media’s intention as well as the morality of the case.
Thus there are two examples of how women could be harassed online, and the toll it could take on them could be disastrous. People could take their own lives, or would be scared to leave their own homes. They could fear for their lives and often times their self-esteem could drop at a higher rate.
There are various ways to prevent online harassment of women. Sections 292A, 354A, 354D, 499, 507, 509 of the IPC and Sections 67, 67A and 67B of the IT Act 2009 should serve as a precedent to end online harassments of women. There are other ways to prevent online harassment
1. Keep evidences of the conversation, messages and comments.
2. Make sure there are witnesses.
3. Changing of passwords of all gadgets and devices to prevent the destruction of evidence.
As of now during the farmer’s protest celebrities like Rihanna and Mia Khalifa were being harassed online just because they’ve made few tweets supporting the farmers protest. This goes to show how the tolerance level of this generation has gone down so low that a mere tweet could offend them especially if the opinion is of women. In this online McCarthyism, we really need to stop putting online abusers like Hindustani Bhau on a pedestal. We need to grow some thick skin when we hear some jokes or opinions even dissenting from a woman. We need to understand that women or anyone for that matter are not worth the online harassment just because we have thinned skin and we get offended so easily.
So in conclusion, we know that this isn’t going to happened because the internet is toxic and our cyber laws aren’t strong enough. The internet isn’t going to be 100% safe. There will always be harassment online and people might even take drastic or unfortunate steps that could create grave consequences for themselves and their love ones. But we need to understand that the internet is a dynamic place just like the law and people. And the online places that were once unsafe might become safe if the laws are strong and the people are willing to make it safe. So I hope that in few years, the internate will truly become the safe haven, everyone needs just like Singapore because of its safety laws regarding women.
 Youth Ki Awaaz, “Freedom of speech is not Freedom to say whatever you want” https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2021/01/why-freedom-of-speech-is-necessary/
 Hindustan Times, Subham Mishra arrested over rape threats, https://www.hindustantimes.com/tv/shubham-mishra-arrested-over-rape-threats-to-comedian-pooja-bhatt-swara-bhasker-laud-vadodara-police/story-iIxktM6Gsrh8x0dusVxDDO.html
 LatestLaws.com, “Recent Developments in the arena of Freedom of speech and expression and the concept of Media Trial Explained”https://www.latestlaws.com/articles/recent-developments-in-the-arena-of-freedom-of-speech-and-expression-and-concept-of-media-trial-explained/
 Legal Service India, “Online Harassment and the Rise of Social Media Trials and Witch Hunt”http://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-4082-online-harassment-and-the-rise-of-social-media-trial-and-online-witch-hunt.html
 The Times of India, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/hindi/bollywood/news/rhea-chakborty-exposes-troll-who-threatened-her-with-rape-and-murder-after-sushant-singh-rajputs-death-do-you-realize-the-seriousness-of-what-you-have-said/articleshow/76994193.cms
 Think Progress, “Real life consequences of Online Harassment”, https://archive.thinkprogress.org/the-real-life-consequences-of-online-harassment-5c8e9547a93e/
 Ipleaders, Laws regarding Online Harassment of Women, https://blog.ipleaders.in/laws-pertaining-to-online-harassment-of-women/
Legally India, “Online Harassment and Legal Remedies”, https://www.legallyindia.com/views/entry/online-harassment-and-legal-remedies
 Youth Ki Awaaz, “Opinion: In This Social Media Tug of War, We’re turing a blind eye to Reality” https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2021/02/social-media-tug-of-war-outrage-mob-and-farmers/
4th Year , B.A.LLB
Amity Law School, Amity University Noida.