Crime
The girl, who survived a suicide attempt, and her relatives were helpless when the visuals were spread.

A case of alleged sexual abuse and revenge porn has been reported from a school in Kollam district in Kerala a week ago.

The accused  a 12th standard boy, reportedly procured nude visuals of a 10th standard girl from his school. He also allegedly attempted to rape her, and when the attempt went wrong he shared the visuals with friends on WhatsApp, which were subsequently shared on social media. The girl, who survived a suicide attempt, and her relatives were helpless when the visuals were spread.

So what should the parents or relatives of a child sexual abuse victim do when they face such situations, especially when revenge porn is involved?

CK Dinesh, director at Childline Wayanad, says, “Inform the police, as they are entitled to deal with it legally. Or Childline workers can be informed as a first step; they would in turn report the incident to the police. The police, whatever the circumstances, are bound to act, especially when the offence comes under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.”

"The local police who take the case should inform the authorities concerned, for example the Cyber Crime Cell in case of indecent videos/pictures being shared. Even though Childline can support the parents, legal intervention can be done only by the police. But the most important thing is for relatives, friends and the community to give moral support to the parents and help them report it to the police. The fear or reluctance to approach the police is most disadvantageous in these cases as the accused would then walk free," he said.

"If the girl needs to be rehabilitated, even if temporarily, in a government run short stay or rehabilitation home, the police should give assistance for that as well," he added.

Who to approach

Cyber crime officers say that since the specialised division may not be there in all districts, victims should first approach any police station.

"Not all districts have Cyber Crime divisions, but almost all cities do. It is better that a parent first approaches the jurisdictional police station who will then guide them to cyber police or the Crime Branch. The parent can also approach Childline," an officer working with Cyber Crime in Chennai said.

The officer added that it was possible to act on content uploaded on websites or even on social networking sites like Facebook, but it would be impossible to control the spread of such material through WhatsApp.

"Complaining as soon as possible really helps. Though we cannot control the message from being passed on via WhatsApp, we can arrest the person who started spreading it and thereby send a stern message," he said.

Kala Shibu, a counseling psychologist who has been in the field for nearly 20 years and has experience working in various schools in Kollam, says that it is parents from upper class families who are more hesitant to approach the police.

"For them social status plays the villain. Even if parents are informed about it, in most cases they advise their children to cover it up. In one such case, one of the girls who had come to me had been repeatedly raped by her cousin. Hailing from an affluent family, she is yet to inform her parents about it fearing that it would affect the family or even business relations. So the foremost thing is for parents to build a strong rapport with their children so that they can share even the worst experience in their life. Even now this is lacking in most families," she says.

"Coming to financially backward families, awareness about reporting such crimes to the police can be created through Anganwadi workers, whom they are familiar with. The Anganwadi workers could also help with sensitisation not only among women, but among men too," Kala said.

"I have stopped giving lectures in awareness classes where the only participants are girls. I repeatedly ask for boys to attend as well, but most of the times only girls join," added Kala, who is currently working in a college in Thiruvananthapuram.

Revenge porn or Non-consensual pornography

Revenge porn is basically a jilted partner or someone else with revenge as motivation posting nude, explicit or private photos of the subject on websites without his/her consent in an attempt to humiliate them.

According to law professor at University of Miami, Mary Anne Franks, “revenge porn” is a misnomer, instead, “non-consensual pornography” is the appropriate term, she says. The crime is rather new, but can wreak havoc in the victim’s life subjecting him/her to online harassment, social alienation, depression among other things.

Many countries have outlawed revenge porn, in India, however, there is no concrete legislation specifically targeting the crime. In cases where the victim’s nude or obscene photos are uploaded without consent, the accused is booked under different sections of the Information Technology Act and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

A report here says that a subject can book cases of defamation under Section 500, criminal intimidation and file charges under Sections 504 and 506 of IPC and Section 66E and 67A under the IT Act also provide legal remedies under which one can charge the accused.