Show me someone who has put themselves out there and shared something of themselves online, and I’ll show you a victim of online harassment. It’s a shame that this has become over such a short period, an intrinsic part of our reality on the internet. But we must not normalise it with the kind of, “Yeh sab toh internet pe hota rehta hai. Ignore karna hi best hai.” attitude. It is time for us to not just be the change you want to see in the world, but also to stop turning a blind eye to this cancer that plagues our very experience of the worldwide web.  At MissMalini, we try our best to lead by example, (some of you may even remember our #ItEndsWithMe campaign) which is why we have:

but also,

  • Started this campaign, aptly called #IgnoreNoMoreOnline to empower men and women everywhere to protect themselves against the nasty trolls all over the internet.

It’s important that we shut these trolls up once and not allow them to use their anonymity to spew hate on the internet. In that vein, we wanted to explain in a little more detail what this campaign is, why we were motivated to kick it off and most importantly how it works.

What Is #IgnoreNoMoreOnline?

The campaign is talking about cybercrime AKA the creep-fest on social media. 8 out of 10 Indians have faced online harassment. Online sexual harassment encompasses a wide range of sexual misconduct on digital platforms and includes some of the more specific forms of online harassment including ‘revenge porn’ and ‘cyberstalking’. It often manifests as hateful speech or online threats.

What else constitutes cybercrime?

  • Non-consensual sharing of intimate images and videos
  • Exploitation, coercion, and threats
  • Sexualised bullying
  • Unwanted sexualisation
  • All forms of unwelcome sexual requests, comments and content

Section 354A of the IPC states that:

  • People posting lewd comments on social media are liable under this law and can be punished with one-year imprisonment and fine.
  • In addition, posting/messaging content related to pornography against the will of a woman or requesting sexual favours are punishable by a fine along with three years of imprisonment under the same provision.

And it’s time to put an end to it.

Why Should We Report Cybercrime?

Well, that’s simple. Because we’ve had enough. And because the mental and emotional toll cyberbullying and harassment have taken on all of us is unreal. We are increasingly moving to virtual lives and we need to ensure we feel safe and happy here. So it is up to us to take out the trash.

How Can We Take On Cybercrime?

We can put an end to online abuse if we come together and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH and report these creeps.

The process is fairly simple:

  • List all the people you would like to report.
  • Gather their virtual information to collect evidence for quick action against culprits.
  • Mention URLs, user names.
  • Attach screenshots of offensive material/posts/comments/DMs.
  • For Mumbai, email: cyberpst-mum and cc

Click here for more information and other city email IDs. The Helpline number is 155260 and it’s functional between 9 AM and 6 PM.

Report And Track

Once your complaint is submitted, you will receive a confirmation message in the portal itself. In case, you have filed a complaint through “Report and Track” option or “Report Other Cybercrime” section available on the portal, you will receive an SMS and an e-mail with a complaint reference number on your registered mobile number and e-mail ID.

Here’s an excerpt from Malini Agarwal‘s upcoming book tentatively titled “The Accidental Troll” with Harper Collins

“Every girl has a dude in her inbox talking to himself.” – Unknown

I kid you not, it feels a little like the plot of a Netflix crime thriller, this whole cyber cell experience, and I’m happy to report a not-so-unpleasant one. One where I feel Cybercop Shubham Singh might be played by a dashing Saquib Saleem. (I have casually floated the idea with Ekta Kapoor, let’s see!) But let me give you some context.

As I was planning out this book, I always wanted to add in a chapter about the cybercrime division. How it works, if it works, and how you actually go from point A to Z in the process. I even asked Member of Parliament, Milind Deora once and he said that I could simply report it to the police and they would take action. But I kept putting it off thinking it’s going to take a bold trek to the police station and what if they laugh me out of there for coming to complain about a creep in my DMs? And then the most amazing thing happened—I have a friend who’s an actress and model named Teena Singh and she has been known to call out creeps publicly on Instagram and been very much applauded for it.

One day I heard that she had taken things up a notch by finding the profiles of parents, teachers and relatives of the offending DMers and started reporting them directly to their families. This, I thought, was all kinds of genius. Not so much taking the law into your own hands but giving the folks at home a serious reality check into exactly what the apple of their eye does online all day. She, in turn, was happy to report that the parents were understandably mortified and very apologetic and then the creeps suddenly changed their tune from “Show me your juicy boobs” to “Sorry didi, I’ll never do it again”.

Anyway, I immediately called her to tell her how absolutely fabulous I thought this was, primarily because it takes mind space and courage and because she had found a way to empower herself to actually do something about this horrible harassment women face day in and day out and have sadly resigned themselves to ignore. But why? Why should we ignore this abuse? It’s unfair, unhealthy and most definitely uncalled for. But someone, as in all things, women are told not to make a fuss under the guise of “haters gonna hate”. This kind of abuse, however, is very different from hating. This is intentional stalking, sexual harassment and mental anguish and best of all it is officially a crime punishable by 3-7 years in prison. I bet if the creeps knew that they’d take a minute before mass messaging that dick pic.

The other thing that happened shortly after that is she came across a lovely fellow known on Instagram and @shubhamcybercop. A cyber expert, investigator and advisor for government agencies. The Wire introduced him as “the ‘cybercop’ working in the ‘Bois Locker Room’ case” and suddenly he was my new virtual best friend.

I was supremely impressed that he managed to track down one of the Instagrammers who was harassing Teena and get him to record a video apology in 72 hours. In fact, I’m pretty sure that kid is never going to send a creepy DM again. His parents are grateful he was spared an FIR because he’s underaged and Teena decided not to press charges, but she could have. So, of course, I pinged him. Here was my chapter on cybercrime, ready to write itself!

And what do you do when you want to rally the Internet to join your crusade? You make a hashtag of course! Ours is #IgnoreNoMoreOnline. Fairly self-explanatory and quite catchy if I say so myself. My friend Huzaifa Lightwalla (and a shining light – pun fully intended! of positive masculinity) helped craft the messaging and create all our social media assets for this courtesy his design company Studio 7 Advertising.

I realised that the most important thing that was missing was this simple information. Where do I go? The very same question that was preventing me from writing this chapter is now helping me rewrite my online legacy. Brilliant isn’t it?

Shortly after that, I got a few enquiries from friends and even some strangers asking how they could file a complaint and so I put them in touch with our friendly neighbourhood cybercop!

The other thing I must mention here is that for every monstrous creeper out there there are many many nicer guys. Every time I or any of my friends have posted about these experiences we’ve been flooded with love, concern and outrage by our guy friends and even strangers saying they wish there was something they could do. There is! One, please keep the support coming, you have no idea how much verbal support, concern and validation can be a balm to the cruelty of creeps. But second, do the simple things, help and encourage her to submit a complaint to the cyber cell. In fact, you can take her permission and do it for her,  compile the URLs and screen names, collect the evidence so she doesn’t have to reread all the nasty comments and DMs again, send the email and track the progress of the complaint online. That would help a lot! I warn you it will take a toll on your mental health at some point to see watch out for that. It hurts everybody eventually.

Do you have a question about cybercrime, the law, what can be done, what the consequences are? Drop them in the comments section, and we’ll be sure to find out.

We often have such conversations on Malini’s Girl Tribe on Facebook. Click here to join the group!