India has banned spurned boyfriends from posting private recordings of sexual encounters on websites in order to protect the privacy of young women. Under a tough new law, those convicted will face three years in jail or a heavy fine of up to half a million rupees (£7,140).
The new act has been passed in response to concerns over the growing popularity in India of websites featuring clips of young women performing sexual acts with their boyfriends, often recorded on mobile phones. Many of the clips are posted on these sites by former boyfriends in “revenge” after the women have ended their relationships.
It comes into force amid a controversy over the recent case of a young university student whose former boyfriend posted a clip of her performing a striptease for him. They were both MBA students, and the boy posted the clip in anger after the girl refused to marry him.
Commentators said the girl will now be stigmatised for the rest of her life, and find her chances of a successful career and marriage blighted. Her case has been taken up by the National Commission for Women, which is helping the victim to bring a case against her former boyfriend and his father. “So far we have received three similar complaints but we are aware of the fact there are hundreds of cases which remain unreported,” said Manju Hembrom, a member of the commission.
“We will try to educate girls particularly in colleges to desist from such activities.”
The case follows another scandal in India in 2004 in which a mobile phone video clip of a schoolgirl performing a sexual act with a fellow pupil was posted on a popular Indian website.
“It has damaged their reputation for their lifetime. Men in India do not want wives who have documented sexual pasts,” said Pavan Duggal, an expert in cyber-law. “Indians do a lot of video voyeurism because it is forging ahead in technology, but society’s values have not changed as fast. People do not know where the boundaries are.”
The new law and its tough punishment – 500,000 rupees is equivalent to what an Indian graduate might earn in two and a half years – has been welcomed by women’s rights campaigners.
But according to Mr Duggal, the new act is a “toothless tiger” which will automatically grant bail to those charged, giving them time to erase the incriminating evidence.
“We have had only three convictions for cyber crimes in India in 14 years. We have no privacy laws for people or data. We need far more stringent measures,” he said.