Two girls, 13-year-old and 9-year-old sisters, from a Dalit community, were found hanging after being sexually assaulted, in January and March 2017 respectively in Attappalam near Walayar in Kerala. Two years later, the Special POCSO Court in Palakkad acquitted three persons who were accused of abetment of suicide and rape.
Now, the issue has been taken up by the public and protests have been brewing in every nook and corner of the state, as well as across social media. Has something fired up the protests by taking the issue into public notice and authoritative attention?
It has to be the cyber ‘chivalry’ of a group of hacktivists from Kerala that brought about such an immense public response on this issue.
Kerala Cyber Warriors, a hacktivist community that is based in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, on October 27, a Sunday, hacked the website of the state’s Legal Department as a protest against the court’s decision to acquit the four accused of the case. This news was revealed by them through their Facebook page.
“Those who are responsible for the murders of the two sisters in Walayar have been left free. The government has failed completely in ensuring the protection of women and children” the post said. The organisation also demanded the government to initiate reinvestigation, and to provide justice to the victims.
The state government has decided to go for an appeal against the court order in the case. It has also decided to replace the public prosecutor for the time being.
Hacking is usually ill-famed because of its vulnerability in the cyberspace. But in the modern-day context, hacking has reframed itself as a necessary evil for committing reformations in the social sphere with the introduction of ‘hacktivism‘. It is the use of technology to promote a political agenda or a social change.
Hacktivism is meant to call the public’s attention to something the ‘hacktivist‘ believes is an important issue, such as freedom of expression, violation of human rights, etc. It can also be a way for the hacktivists to express their opposition to something, for instance, by displaying messages or images on the website of an organisation they believe is doing something wrong. The modus operandi is similar to that of a hacker, but it is done in order to disrupt services and to grab the attention of the authorities and the public towards a political or social cause.
Kerala Cyber Warriors (KCW) are assumed to be a 17-member community consisting of school students to cybersecurity analysts. The Community, which was formed in 2015 has been said to have hacked several official websites including some governmental websites of Pakistan.
The cyber team, which claims to be “the voice of the voiceless and the eyes of the blind” has been showcasing their protests in various issues, such as the death of a student in Pambadi Nehru College, cases relating to sexual abuse, human rights, etc. KCW had also hacked the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha’s website in August 2018, and put up content on “How to prepare spicy beef curry.”
Even though the methods adopted by hacktivists are illegal and are a form of cybercrime, they often are not prosecuted because they are rarely investigated by law enforcement. It has been difficult for law enforcement agencies to identify hackers in the majority of the instances.
However, the online community, over the course of time, has emerged as a popular platform through their unique model of protests where they tend to grab over sixty thousand likes on Facebook.
If you are a survivor, parent or guardian who wants to seek help for child sexual abuse, or know someone who might, you can dial 1098 for CHILDLINE (a 24-hour national helpline) or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call NGO Arpan on their helpline 091-98190-86444, for counselling support.