Online harassment is in no way less criminal

Published: Jun 08, 2019, 06:37 IST | mid-day correspondent

The complainant alleged that the accused sent her messages with sexual undertones and then went on to text her friends

Online harassment is in no way less criminal

The Vasai police have arrested one Roger Dias for allegedly stalking a woman online via Facebook and harassing her, according to a report in this paper. During investigations, it was found that the man is a serial offender and four similar cases were registered against him in the past couple of years.

The complainant alleged that the accused sent her messages with sexual undertones and then went on to text her friends. This online stalking followed a pattern as the same man had demonstrated this extremely offensive behaviour in earlier cyber exchanges.

It is not a lesser crime in any way because it is done in the virtual world. Stalking, unwanted sexual advances are as serious online as they are in the 'real' world. It is good that women are recognizing the potential danger of this and reporting the crime to the police. It is also laudable that the cops are taking cognizance of this.

Many people feel that they are somehow 'safe' and will evade action if they indulge in harassment online. The online version is somehow less 'criminal' in intent. For some, it also gives them a veneer of anonymity. For others, there is an added thrill to the chase in an online pursuit because there is an edge to living vicariously. Whatever the reason, harassment is harassment and molestation is molestation.

Your crime is not mitigated if it happens online. Targets have to also understand that online crime can very quickly translate to one in the real, physical sense if those harassing or threatening their target decide they should act on their online behaviour and carry it out offline. Online harassment can be insidious and dangerous and these criminals can be as deadly as 'physical' ones. The online world is simply another facet to our tech-driven lives, and crime is one manifestation of that.

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