The government’s recent decision to regulate matrimonial websites to check harassment of women and instances of fraud has been welcomed by the National Commission for Women.
Noting that the advisory was “just the beginning” NCW Chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam has said there is a need to spread awareness among people so they know their rights and are encouraged to come forward against the erring sites. They have also cautioned parents and the prospective brides “to check the antecedents of both the website and grooms”.
“This advisory is just the beginning. Now, awareness has to be created so that people know their rights and the duties of the websites. Also, people must be encouraged to complain, in writing, preferably, so that such service providers are forced to comply,” Kumaramangalam told the PTI.
An advisory approved by the Telecom ministry makes it mandatory for matrimonial website users to submit “true copies of identity proof for the purpose of user authentication” to the websites. The directive comes in the backdrop of increasing cases of online abuse against women.
The new set of rules also require the website to save IP address and access logs of users for a period of one year. The users should also make a declaration that the site is solely for seeking a matrimonial alliance and not for dating.
Noting that there are sufficient laws to deal with crimes against women, Kumaramangalam said it is the lack of awareness about and the reluctance among people to go through the tedious legal process that renders them ineffective.
“The problem is not the lack of laws, or even the ‘teeth’ laws have — it is most often a lack of awareness about laws and a reluctance to submit to the often tedious legal process that hampers the effectiveness of the laws,” she said.
Meanwhile, the matrimonial sites have welcomed the advisory. “Instances of fraud and harassment are an area of concern. We have already been carrying out phone verification and encouraging users to report abuse,” said a spokesperson for Shaadi.com.
Another website said that while they have mechanisms in place to ensure safety of its users, they would be happy to comply with these rules. “We would be happy to comply with these proposed rules and we hope this move will definitely help us to become a more secured and trustworthy platform,” the website official said.
Neither the Women & Child Development Ministry nor the Delhi Police have any record of the total number of complaints received about harassment through such websites.