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Indian Express

7-November-2023

1) DELAYED, DENIED

Context:

  • In order to address violence against women, it is sometimes recommended that women be encouraged to come forward and make official complaints. Justice will triumph once the legal system is put into place, according to popular thinking.
  • But an analysis of more than 4 lakh FIRs in Haryana that was published in the American Political Science Review clarifies the difficulties women encounter while attempting to obtain legal recourse.
  • The results show a notable gender bias throughout the legal system, which makes it difficult for women to obtain justice.

Gender Bias in Legal System:

  • According to the study, incidents of violence against women in which women are the main complainants are more likely to be dropped from court proceedings, not to be registered, or end in acquittals.
  • The researchers refer to the prejudice caused by gender bias as “multi-stage” discrimination, which goes beyond registration and includes prosecution.

Historical Gender Disparities:

  • The prejudice against female complainants is not a recent development; historical accounts and anecdotal evidence support the notion that female complainants frequently have their complaints dismissed from police stations.
  • Longer wait periods and frequent pressure to drop complaints are experienced by women.
  • The belief that women tend to overstate their concerns or abuse the legal system contributes to these gender disparities, which continue throughout the judicial procedure.

Impact of Judicial Pronouncements:

  • Women are further deterred from pursuing justice by statements made by the judiciary suggesting that they abuse the law.
  • The statements made by the Madhya Pradesh High Court on the “misuse” of Section 498A in relation to cruelty to women and the Calcutta High Court regarding women using Section 498A for “legal terrorism” are devoid of any factual foundation and impede the ability of women to obtain justice.

Urgent Need for Gender Sensitization:

  • The study’s conclusions highlight the alarming fact that half of the population confronts significant barriers to both receiving justice and even being heard.
  • Fast-track courts and all-women police stations are examples of procedural fixes that are insufficient.
  • Encouraging more women to join the police (who make up an appalling 11.7% of the force) and offering thorough training and sensitization to everyone involved in the legal system from police stations to the judiciary are crucial.

Way Forward:

  • The study draws attention to the pervasive gender bias in the legal system that hinders women’s ability to disclose abuse and pursue justice.
  • A comprehensive strategy is needed to address this problem, one that includes raising the proportion of women in law enforcement and improving gender sensitization throughout the judicial system.

2) From predator to prey

Context:

  • Concerns over social media’s effects on society have been growing for some time, especially in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica incident and the publication of “The Social Dilemma” in 2020.
  • These alerts brought attention to the ways that social media giants, headed by Meta (previously Facebook), use human psychology and biology to shape behavior, with especially unsettling effects on young people.

Case study

  • An extended exposure to self-injury content on Instagram was connected to the suicide of a 14-year-old girl in the United Kingdom.
  • Further information from the whistleblower Frances Haugen showed that Instagram was aware of how it was making teenagers’ problems with body image worse.
  • Even the US surgeon general released a warning about the harm social media causes to young people’s mental health.

Legal Action:

  • With 42 U.S. state attorneys general suing Instagram and its parent company, Meta, the situation has suddenly become much more heated.
  • They claim that because these platforms’ services are so addictive, they are directly fueling the current problem in juvenile mental health.
  • According to the accusations, Meta takes advantage of young people’s dopamine reactions to acceptance and likes on social media to purposefully keep them active.
  • The lawsuit highlights Meta’s profit-driven motivation and charges the business with concealing its tactics for generating an addictive cycle of interaction.

The Fundamental Issue: Business Model:

  • Social networks’ fundamental issue is with their business model.
  • Originally intended to promote human interaction, they have evolved into data-driven and advertising-driven media assets.
  • Instead of people interacting with one another, users are become just targets for advertisers.
  • These networks’ underlying algorithms are data-hungry, constantly requesting more user data.
  • Meta may be subject to significant financial penalties should the states win in the lawsuit.

Global Ramifications:

  • International ramifications of this lawsuit include the attention of regulators in the UK, EU, and India.
  • India, which has the world’s biggest Instagram user base, is putting pressure on social media companies to take more responsibility.
  • In response, Meta said that it has already made a number of resources available to help teenagers and their families.
  • Nevertheless, it could be required to take into account different economic models, including subscriptions rather than advertising, in order to properly handle these problems.

Way Forward:

  • These warning signs indicate that social media businesses must change and take more morally and responsibly-minded measures.
  • Although the subscription-based business model might result in fewer users and income, it might also provide these platforms with a more stable and ethically sound future.
  • Social media businesses’ economic models are currently under close examination, and how they respond will probably determine whether they survive in a world that is changing quickly.

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