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A Tragic Loss For India... Pranshu's Story Highlights Legal Gaps in Cyberbullying Cases

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*For representational purpose only.
On 21st November, an internet acquaintance of mine committed suicide due to cyber-bullying. Pranshu was just a 16-year-old boy who loved using the internet as a medium for self-expression.

Sadly, he fell victim to the relentless cruelty of those who hid behind screens. A young, talented boy took his life, and the ones who bullied him are free without any blame to take. It's disheartening to realise that our legal system, especially in the realm of cyberspace, often falls short of holding perpetrators accountable. 

"I lost my only child. I convey this to every parent- let your child choose what she/he/they want to become. Accept them as they are. It is extremely hard for children from small cities to open up about their identity. I am proud of Pranshu." A message from Pranshu's mother. 

Individuals around need to feel accepted no matter how different they are. Our voices and comments hold immense power. Let's not misuse it in any way.

This makes me rethink the whole legal system we have and whether it is adequate according to our ever-evolving society?

It is not the first time the internet has been a hateful space. Almost 33% of women on the internet have been victims of online sexual harassment, threats and ridicule. A month back, Taneesha Mirwani shared a video titled Comments I Receive from Men, unveiling the grim truth that many individuals, especially women, face online. Shockingly, the comments were flooded with various forms of sexual harassment and rape threats.

On a personal note, I've experienced a similar ordeal. I attempted to report these instances first on Instagram and then on the National Cyber Crime Receiving Portal. Unfortunately, my efforts were met with disappointment as these platforms deemed the threats as mere opinions, dismissing the gravity of the situation.

Cyberbullying raises the likelihood of suicide by 8.7 per cent. Suicidal thoughts are increased by 15% when people are cyberbullied. (verywellfamily) A 1% reduction in cyberbullying reduces fatal suicide rates by 11 per 100,000 people. Then why is our legal system so tolerant of Cyberbullying? Even after the Information Technology Act of 2000, there is no specific section catering specifically to cyberbullying or trolling. 

Cyberspace is not the only sector we’re lagging behind. When it comes to LGBTQ+ rights, particularly concerning same-sex marriage; our current legal landscape seems to be shackled by outdated norms, failing to reflect the inclusive values that our diverse society upholds. 

Additionally, our legal framework for addressing sexual harassment and assault, particularly against women, appears to be inadequate. The punishment for sexual harassment against women is just 3-5 years of imprisonment and ten years of imprisonment in case of rape.

Reform is the need of the hour, it is vital to combine the remembrance with a critical evaluation of the country's current legal concerns. India, a country with a rich legal history, is negotiating a complicated web of concerns that need our attention, analysis, and, most importantly, collective action. 

As we map the road for our country's future, we must recognise that our success is inextricably intertwined with the advancement of our legal system. Embracing change in our laws isn't just an option; it is a necessity. Whether it's adapting to technological advancements, addressing emerging human rights concerns, or ensuring the inclusivity of marginalised communities, our legal system must be proactive. A legal framework that evolves with the times is not just a sign of progress; it is a fundamental prerequisite for the growth and prosperity of our nation.

In addressing these issues, let's not only demand legal reforms but also foster a societal dialogue that challenges the status quo. It's time to advocate for laws that not only protect the rights but also ensure that justice is served swiftly and effectively to everyone.

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