Once again, the question must be raised: Why try controlling and monitoring victims rather than taking meaningful efforts to hold perpetrators accountable?
The Lucknow Police is going to deploying AI-Enabled cameras to detect distress in women through their facial expressions. This technology has been designed to alert the nearest police stations when the camera detects an expression of distress. The decision has been announced in accordance with The Government of Uttar Pradesh’s “Mission Shakti” Initiative that is aimed towards reducing the cases of sexual harassment.
This move not only raises serious data privacy concerns but it also stirs fears of over-policing and unnecessary involvement from authorities. Moreover, the decision needs to address the evident grey area that this decision is overlooking: Facial expressions are not always reflective of our intrinsic emotions and feelings.
In the name of “women’s safety,” policy-makers and outraged citizens are taking to social media to express how this decision could indeed backfire on victims of harassment given the societal attitudes of rape culture.
Cases could be dismissed on the grounds of what time a victim stepped out or what they were wearing.
This decision by the UP Police is yet to address whether or not this technology extends to children, men, and genderqueer persons. Since sexual harassment is widespread in India, we must continue to rage against why we are making efforts to control and suppress victims rather than surveil the culprits.
This decision taken on the pretext of protecting victims is extremely alarming as more and more loophole-ridden policies are formulated day by day.