Of female cybercriminals

Misuse of Internet is an open fact. Since the number of Internet users have grown quicker (and continues to grow at immense pace) than anyone ever imagined, its misuse too is equally growing to the huge disadvantage of users. As people continue to venture into cyberspace and conduct more of their professional activities online, this has created vast opportunities for committing a crime at the click of a button. All this happens under the nose of authorities as the system is not yet foolproof to check its gross misuse. In fact the crimes driven through the cyberspace have become a significant international issue as a result of the harm that it causes to the individuals, especially to the ordinary users of the technology and the businesses. Precisely, the acts of crimes have been digitalized. We can, in other words, say that we are in an era of digital crimes, where the criminals after committing crimes remain mostly unidentified.

Today, cybercrimes have become order of the day and number of victims is only growing where financial as well as reputational losses have become rampant. With millions of people globally affected by this menace, the growing acts of crime through cyberspace have become one of the most threatening and challenging jobs for the stakeholders- law enforcement, the judicial system and the public at large.

Even as the cyber criminals mostly remain untraced, it is widely known that most of such criminals are male. But over a period of time, female criminals also have been marking their presence on the cyberspace and have been innovative to net their victims on wrong foot. It’s most surprising that when someone is robbed of his valuables by a female cybercriminal, the victim most of the times prefers not to discuss it with his family or other associates. Hardly a complaint is lodged against this segment of cybercriminals. This numbness of the victims has encouraged the expansion in the network of female cybercriminals and the trend is growing fast.

A social scientist acquaintance attributes the trend of rising number of female cybercriminals to technological progress and fast changing social norms that have freed women from the home. ‘Today the number of women committing crimes is on the rise, partly because other socio-economic gender gaps have been shrinking. Women have more freedom than in the past, and with that come more opportunities for crime,’ he says.

Precisely, cybercrimes have not now remained a domain of males only. Female participation in the Internet driven criminal activities is growing alarmingly as the victims are first induced into such acts on the cyberspace which are recorded and them used by the criminals to extract money at will. Fearing a reputational crisis, the victims don’t report it to law enforcing authorities and most of them are financially drained out at regular intervals by this section of female cybercriminals.

When we look at this unfortunate scenario in the context of our own geography, the menace is like rampant and unreported. Even as the local network of female cybercriminals has hit the radar of aw enforcing authorities, there is no letup in the number of incidents involving a female cybercriminal robbing gullible individuals.

Here a notice issued by the Cyber police, Jammu for the information of general public makes a sense to be quoted. While listing out latest trends of Facebook/Whatsapp fraud, the notice points out the alarming modus operandi of local female cybercriminals who lure individuals into a video chat, undress herself and even instigates the victim to do so. During the course she captures the whole act and then starts blackmailing the individual to pay money. Visualizing his reputation at stake, the victim dances to the tune of the criminal lady and extracts money from him at will. This way, it becomes an unending process as the victim is forced to shell out money in a recurring mode.

Why people are scared to lodged a complaint against any female cybercriminal for luring and then blackmailing? Among other reasons, if one dares to wage war against such criminals despite carrying a reputational risk, laws protecting the woman surfaces as the hurdle. Over the past decade, women’s empowerment has been pushed in such a powerful manner which makes it almost impossible to fix a wrong-doer in this gender. The likes of female cybercriminals take easy shelter under this banner, which spoils otherwise a genuine women empowerment programme. It’s just like ‘a single sinner sinks the boat.’

In the context of women welfare, it’s the empowerment which has always dominated the centre-stage. When we talk of empowerment, it means to “give someone the authority or power to do something”, or “to make someone stronger or more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights”.

On the premise of being denied certain freedoms and opportunities in the past, women’s empowerment emerged as a new phrase in the vocabulary of gender literature. Specifically, this aims at enhancing their position in the power structure of the society by enabling them to move to the centre stage.

Today, when we look at the expanding network of female criminals capitalizing on the power of Internet to rob gullible people, this empowerment seems not only overused, but misused also as a firearm to disempower opposite gender. This is really annoying. Generally speaking there are otherwise are scores of instances where women misused her rights in the name of empowerment to show her male counterpart down.

We should not be against empowerment of women, but it should not be at the cost of others irony. Today, the facts suggest that the women-friendly laws are being grossly misused by women like the female cybercriminals. In the past we have come across some vigilant law enforcers who stated that the society is being spoilt because of wide scope of women’s empowerment and ego problems.

In a global campaign when women’s empowerment is vehemently stressed upon, a close look is simultaneously needed at the cheap attitude of those women who manipulate the empowerment laws in their favour to get the benefit of doubt. Empowerment should not give a free hand to women to accuse men on fake grounds. What we need is a law in place to check the misuse of empowerment laws by women and punish those women who indulge in harassing men through tailor-made accusations as is done by these cybercriminal females. This will not only rescue numerous innocent men and their families who are the victims of such accusations made by these mischievous women, but will also lead to a disciplined women’s empowerment in real sense.

Amid this entire nuisance, let me pick an important point related to the menace of emerging female cybercriminals. Our geography is loaded with miseries. For entire period of unrest in the region, people have been pushed into economic starvation. Since we have been talking about women issue, let me focus here on a vast section of our women folk being the most vulnerable and account for the vast majority of those adversely affected by the armed conflict particularly in Kashmir. The impact of the conflict has rendered their emotional strength into weakness and has engulfing them into a constant state of depression. Precisely, women have remained the most sufferers. They have been traumatized when their husbands and sons were either killed or  suspiciously whisked away for ever.

Having deeper attachment with their families, Kashmiri womenfolk silently continue to bear the brunt of violence directly as well as indirectly while caught in the twilight of the armed confrontation. Whether a family member is killed or disappeared, it has been a continuous trauma for Kashmiri women to mourn or yearn for such incidents. Cases are in abundance where many such women are living with their painful memories and now toil hard to make both ends meet.

In nutshell, a decently empowered women would make them not only to overcome poverty and live full and productive lives, but will ensure better lives of their children, families and the nation as well. This can go a long way to shape up the overall behaviour of Kashmiri society. And last but not the least, law around women’s empowerment should not empower somebody to destroy someone else.

(The views are of the author & not the institution he works for)