On 15th September, 2017, Safecity and Shethepeople collaborated to host another edition of their interactive series of Legal Roundtables, where students were given an insight into the legal enforcements preventing sexual violence in the cyberspace.
The panel consisted of Dr. Sapna Deol (the owner of the firm Legal research and ICT services), Sneha Goale (professor at Savitribhai Phule Univerity) and Ms. Anjana Goswami (a social activist working at Equal Community Foundation) conducted this session, covering a wide range of details, including the various forms of sexual offences occurring in the cyberspace, the role several societal factors play, and the numerous steps that can be taken to wage the war against it. Tania Fernandes, Head of Training and Youth Engagement of Safecity, Pune moderated the panel.
The event began with an insightful opinion brought up by Dr. Sapna, bringing in the concept of gender inequality to the equation as she shared how women often face wrongful and unprincipled sexual acts in the cyber world. Personal or fake obscene pictures and videos are often spread on all forms of social media without the consent of the woman, and emphasis was laid upon the requirement of citizens to employ the Information Technology Act to ensure that they can protect themselves by following proper procedure. Ms. Sneha highlighted the importance of educational institutions in creating and sustaining a safe environment for their students by spreading awareness throughout campuses through conversations, discussions, and forums; regulation, control, and surveillance to enhance their legal structure and promoting an efficient work environment. Ms. Anjana stressed on the importance of our society addressing the consequences of the action of men who indulge in eve-teasing and sexism, and yet the women who are the victims are blamed and shamed.
The discussion progressed towards the legal aspect of the situation as Dr Sapna mentioned the 5 R’s of laws regarding sexual harassment: Prevention– prevent such crimes from happening by changing the perspectives of boys and men, Protect the potential victims, Prosecute the perpetrator and investigate, Punish the perpetrators, Provide remedies to the victims. She further elaborated by quoting 11 different laws from several different sources, ranging from the Indian Penal Code to the Information Technology Act, all designed to ensure that cybercrime offenders are appropriately punished. Furthermore, the panel addressed various workshops and social media campaigns carried out by Non-Governmental Organizations like Safecity in order to spread awareness regarding the severity of this issue, the need to bring about change, and how to bring about that change.
Students were not only made aware of the several changes required by our society but were also informed of the change they, as individuals, can bring about. Dr. Sapna explained the procedure to reporting any sexual harassment faced to ensure that no perpetuator is allowed to escape. Moreover, Ms. Sneha elaborated on the imperative need for individuals to help create a psycho-social structure in their social environment to help support any sexual harassed victims. The youthful audience was encouraged to not be afraid and voice their opinion on any possible platform to ensure that their opinion echoes throughout the country, forcing authorities to take strict action and bring about discipline.
The event ended on a positive note as the panelists took questions from the audience, giving rise to an empowering session of discussion. Through these Legal Roundtables, Safecity seeks to continue to spread the word and ensure that the public is made more aware of their fundamental rights, and ensure that no one violates them.