Information and Communication Technology related violence refers to violence perpetrated through new information and communication technologies such as the mobile phone and internet (social networking sites, email). It is also known as digital or cyber violence. It can include pornography, child pornography, stalking, misuse of the internet, uploading inappropriate pictures or videos of women and girls without their permission on the internet or mobile phones, intimidating, threatening or blackmailing women and girls via social network sites, websites or mobile phones or widely circulating personal and abusive emails.
For more information on protecting yourself on cyberspace click here: UNWomen Cyber Violence Against Women and Girls
The 2006 UN Secretary General report on all forms of violence against women and girls (Ending Violence Against Women: Study of the Secretary-General) recognized new forms of violence against women that have developed with the advent of the new information and communication technologies (ICTs). Incidents of ICT related violence against women and girls are also on the rise in Sri Lanka. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment and abuse as information communication technologies make it easier for perpetrators to access and circulate personal information and pictures with the motive of causing harm to the individual.
Despite the lack of data and research that provide statistics on the nature and extent of violence against women and girls in cyber space, it has been accepted as a serious violation of women’s human rights and safety and the UN Secretary General’s report on VAW has called upon member states to address the issue. Unfortunately Sri Lanka lacks sufficient laws to protect women and girls from cyber related violence and abuse. Women and girls therefore should take precautions when uploading pictures onto the internet for example via social networking sites, email or when sharing personal information via the internet.
In recognizing the importance of laws to curb cyber violence, in 2006 Sri Lanka introduced an amendment to the Penal Code which placed a ‘duty of person providing service by computer to prevent sexual abuse of a child’.Section 286B (1) states that such person who provides a service by means of a computer was charged with taking all steps necessary to ensure that such computer facility is not used to carry out an act constituting an offence relating to the sexual abuse of a child.Section 286B (2) states that information on this offence should be reported to the nearest police station. The punishment for violation of this law is imprisonment not exceeding two years or a fine or both imprisonment and fine. Source: Penal Code (Amendment) Act, No. 16 of 2006
The Computer Crime Act deals primarily with computer related crimes and hacking offences. The Act criminalises attempts at unauthorized access to a computer or any information held in any computer, and the commission of any other offence. This Act does not deal with content related offences such as pornography and harassment perpetrated via ICT tools. Source: Computer Crime Act, No. 24 of 2007