New Delhi: India is seeing a rise in online harassment, with some Indian women saying they’ve been targeted by men in the past few months.
The numbers of victims of online abuse, especially those who have been targeted in the last few months, has also risen dramatically.
Many of them are women.
The Indian women’s rights organisation Women for Women International said the figure of 1,000 to 2,000 people a day is a “real number”.
Many of the women who spoke to The Times said they have received harassing messages, death threats, rape threats, online harassment and threats to their lives.
Many women are afraid of being alone online.
Others said they fear getting stalked.
“I am afraid of my safety,” said a 24-year-old university student who did not want to be identified.
She said she had received numerous death threats and sexual assault threats.
The woman’s husband, who lives in a remote village, said he also received death threats.
“One of my friends who lives with me, he got hacked and the message he received was: ‘You should not go out alone’,” he said.
“She was raped.
I have seen her face.”
The woman said she has received threats to kill her, which is against Indian law.
“It’s really disturbing,” she said.
The harassment online is becoming more prevalent in India, where internet is considered a public space, and people can feel threatened online, said Nandita Das, an Indian lawyer who specialises in cyber crimes.
“We need to change laws to stop this from happening,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
She added that women have also been victims of hate speech and hate crimes, which are being used as a justification for abuse.
India’s laws make it illegal to insult, intimidate or threaten people online, and to harass someone based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability or political opinion.
The government said on Monday it was looking into the complaints, and will “take action against those who commit cyber crimes”.
In an interview on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he has instructed the police to crack down on cyber criminals.
He said he was “looking into ways” to curb online abuse.
“When you are attacked, you have to stand up to it,” he said, adding that “there is nothing we can do about it” except take action against perpetrators.
India has some of the world’s toughest laws on cybercrime.
In 2015, a woman in the southern state of Kerala was arrested for trying to harass a male student, according to a local news report.
Police arrested two men in a case of online stalking.
Last year, the government announced that internet service providers would be obliged to block all content deemed to be threatening, harmful or obscene.