They must have a separate grievance cell to deal with all matters related to women’s safety, says Rashmi Karandika, former DCP of Cyber Cell, Mumbai Police
They should have a separate grievance cell to deal with all issues related to women’s safety, says Rashmi Karandikar, former DCP of Cyber Cell, Mumbai Police
Rashmi Karandikar has his heart in the right place. The former Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) of Cyber Cell in Mumbai investigated the Bulli Bai case in which photos of hundreds of Muslim women were posted on an app and an online auction was organized. She also probed the Clubhouse case where a verbal chat room had hundreds of young boys and girls using foul language and talking about sexual assaults against women.
Ms Karandika not only nabbed the accused in record time and also filed the indictment despite the inevitable challenges of keeping up with the social media world. She did her doctorate. on “the impact of globalization on urban women” and is currently the DCP of civil protection.
She speaks with passion The Hindu on the need to counsel women who have experienced abuse on social media and says social media apps need to step up and appoint grievance officers to make women feel virtually safe.
After probing the two cases of Bulli Bay and Clubhouse, what do you think is the common thread between the two?
In both cases, the defendants are very young. Their parents have no idea they have an alter ego in the virtual world, where they don’t know each other personally but have a group affinity. In both cases, the rules were the same: everyone had to be anonymous, use only international numbers and no Gmail. They all have the same ideology – women shouldn’t leave their homes and are strong believers and followers of Manusmriti. There is resentment towards a particular religious community and hatred towards the women of that community.
Many of the defendants in both cases have been released on bail, and one of the bail conditions is that they follow social media behavior counseling. Do you think that helps the accused?
Counseling in a case like this is like sending an alcoholic to rehab. Even if the abuser goes to rehab regularly and does what he is told to do, he needs to be monitored once he gets out of there. Similarly, you can counsel a young mind for a few months, but what really matters is tracking their behavior on social media after the sessions are over.
Even victims of social media abuse need advice. Survivors were auctioned off their body parts online through these apps. These women have suffered a very different form of abuse, sextortion – their photographs have been altered, vulgar language has been used against them – they definitely need advice.
You also caught the guy threatening to rape a cricketer’s one-year-old daughter? What does this say about our society?
It is very sad to know that people reduce a one-year-old child to a part of his body. It really shows that we are a sick society that has a very evil outlook and mentality.
In your opinion, what should be done to create notoriety on social networks?
There is a need to study cyberpsychology through which people must learn to use social media responsibly. Dos and don’ts should be explained to everyone, not just young people. For minors and teens, parents, teachers, and psychologists need to work on this together so they don’t have a false sense of identity and seek false validation in the virtual world. Young people today feel that by hiding their identities they can do whatever they want and they cannot be found, but they must be told that wherever they are they will be caught .
How do you think we can start this?
We need to start by redefining women’s safety. You can’t talk about the need for women to walk the road safely and then abuse her online. Social media platforms should track and block IDs and users who use vulgar and inappropriate language or words towards women, and this can easily be done using their algorithms. The algorithm should be developed and promoted not only in English but in all vernaculars. Just like how their algorithm is used to closely monitor suicide attempts so quickly.
Second, all social media apps should have a separate complaint cell just to deal with all women’s safety issues, who can work around the clock to prevent abuse and protect women on those apps. If this is done, it will really encourage women to come forward and complain. Social media apps generate so much revenue in India that it is also their responsibility to make women feel safe while using their apps.