Thiruvananthapuram: In a state that boasts of high cyber literacy, the indiscriminate use of socia media applications like Facebook and Whatsapp has spread its vicious tentacles alarmingly, often leading to marriage break-ups and even to suicides.
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) offers a disturbing data. It says that 66 cyber offences have been reported in the state last year, and they were for “personal revenge/settling scores purpose, 16 for “emotional motives like anger, revenge”, 29 for “causing disrepute” and five for “blackmailing”.
According to J Prameela Devi, member of the State Women’s Commission, cell phones and social media are the second largest threat to women’s safety, next to substance abuse by family members. “Petitions on social media and mobile phone-related abuses before the commission have outnumbered even the dowry cases. Lack of awareness on the right use of the services is putting the safety of women and children at risk,” she said.
“Recently, we attended to the case of an eleventh standard girl student who went missing from Kottayam. The police traced her to a lodge in Thiruvananthapuram, the next day. She told the police that she came there to meet her Facebook friend who introduced himself as an engineering student. But the friend, in fact, was the staff of the lodge where she was sexually abused,” she said.
Another complaint, she said, was by a Kollam-based woman, who was sexually assaulted and cheated of lakhs of rupees by a Facebook friend. “Despite our earnest attempts, many such cases end up in divorces or suicides,” she lamented. Prameela says women are more vulnerable to online-related abuse or cheating than men because they lack an active social life. “Curiously, social media and mobile phone victims come from all backgrounds – the rich and the poor and educated,” she says.
Dr T K Paulachan, clinical psychologist at the KMCT Medical College, says nearly 40 per cent of the marital discord cases he attends to have a link with illicit affairs over cell phone or internet. “I have also come across children who are victims of online abuses, and to help them recover from the shock and grief is a daunting task,” he says.
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