Beware women! The Camera is watching YOU

(Representative photo)
(Representative photo)

Actress Anushka Sharma and her Indian cricketer husband Virat Kohli slammed the media for posting their daughter’s picture on social media and issued a statement after pictures of their one-year-old Vamika started doing the rounds. Sharma and Kohli took to their official Instagram handles to urge people to not spread it, and said that they were caught off guard and didn’t realize that a camera was watching them.

“Hi guys! We realize that our daughter’s images were captured at the stadium and widely shared thereafter. We want to inform everyone that we were caught off guard and didn’t know that the camera was on us,” Sharma and Kohli said. The actress clarified that their no-coverage stand regarding Vamika stays. “Our stance and request on the matter stays the same. We would really appreciate (it) if Vamika’s images are not clicked/published for reasons we have explained earlier. Thank you,” her statement added.

Several accounts on Instagram and Twitter circulated pictures of Sharma holding her daughter Vamika, as they stood inside a private stand cheering for Kohli during one of the ODI cricket matches in South Africa. The picture showed Vamika’s face, which, so far, was not revealed to paparazzi by her protective parents.

Since the birth of their baby, the couple has been very protective of their daughter in the media and has, in the past, requested everyone to not post pictures of the toddler, who was born on January 11, 2021.

As usual, netizens were divided over the issue. While angry fans supported the couple and slammed social media for not respecting the privacy of the family, there were many others, who thought it’s unfair to criticize social media in this digital era where nothing is private and that Sharma should have been more careful.

As a celebrity, Anushka should have known that she would be under media glare, felt many. Their argument was, if she was so protective about her child’s privacy, she should have not come to the stadium to watch the match, knowing fully well that cameras would focus on cricketer’s wives/ family/ GF, from time to time, especially when their man is on the crease. Some in fact called it a PR stunt to turn heads.

Anushka is not the first celeb to have raised her concerns on the protection of her family’s privacy. In the past many celebs, including veteran actress Jaya Bachchan and Asha Parekh, have raised their displeasure on being clicked without their prior permission.

In 2016, Jaya, present at a college discussion in Mumbai, was irked by the behaviour of certain college students as they were clicking pictures of her. “Please stop taking pictures. I hate it because it’s right into my eyes. These are basic manners which we Indians have to learn. Just because you have a camera and a mobile, you have the freedom to take anyone’s picture anytime, without asking that person!” Jaya said angrily.

Similarly, in 2021 when veteran actresses Asha Parekh, Waheeda Rehman and Helen’s vacation pictures went viral online, the actresses were not very happy with the pictures getting leaked and going viral. “These pictures are from a holiday we took in the end of March in the Andamans just before the lockdown. We thought it was a very private vacation. We just wanted to get out and relax. We’ve no idea who took the pictures. It was probably some tourists. The place was swarming with vacationers. Aaj kal koi bhi photos le sakta hai bina ijaazat ke,” Parekh said.

Privacy is the state of being free from public attention. It enables us to create barriers and manage boundaries to protect ourselves from unwarranted interference in our lives. It helps us establish boundaries to limit who has access to our bodies, places and things, as well as our communication and our information.

The Oxford dictionary defines privacy as “a state in which one is not observed or disturbed by other people” or “the state of being free from public attention”. So, privacy can also be defined as the ability of an individual to be left alone and express them selectively.

Over the years, the meaning and act of privacy has undergone sea change. The digital onslaught has intruded our lives leaving no scope to guard our private lives. No wonder, the Right to Privacy has been recognised as a right globally. In fact, Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, and Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), 1966, legally protects persons against “arbitrary interference” with their privacy, family, home, correspondence, honour and reputation.

Though India became a signatory to this right on April 10, 1979 it was in 2017 that Right to Privacy was accorded a Fundamental Right by the Supreme Court. In a landmark judgment, the apex court said that the Right to Privacy does not need to be separately articulated but can be derived from Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India. It is a natural right that subsists as an integral part to the right to life and liberty. It is a fundamental and inalienable right and attaches to the person covering all information about that person and the choices that he/ she makes. It protects an individual from the scrutiny of the state in their home, of their movements and over their reproductive choices, choice of partners, food habits, etc. Therefore, any action by the state that results in an infringement of the right to privacy is subject to judicial review.

The European Union also recognises the respect for private and family life, home and communications. In Europe, this is covered by the Data Protection Directive, which defines how information can be processed and used.

However, despite all these rights in place, individuals’ Right to Privacy has been compromised and breached. To be fair, in this digital driven society, while not every intrusion is a violation of privacy, the line is difficult to determine at any given moment because of shifting social expectations and the increasing interaction between people of different cultures.

Therefore, celebrities, especially women, have been at the receiving end from time to time.

In fact, in a ghastly breach of privacy, in 1997, Princess Diana lost her life in a fatal car accident, while she was trying to escape the hounding paparazzi, after spending an evening with her boyfriend Dodi Fayed in Paris.

The Princess’ death had raised serious questions on the Right to Privacy. But over the years, thanks to modern technology, it has been a challenge for everyone, especially women, to guard their privacy. The rise in cybercrimes related to breach of women’s privacy- harassment, dupe, etc-  is a clear indication that despite having a dedicated cyber cell, and proper law in place, things are in a bad shape.

Does that mean we have to live in a world ‘private-less’ world where we can be caught off-guard anywhere, anytime? Unfortunately YES. Therefore, the onus is on US, especially women, to at least guard their privacy as much as they can. Girls should be very careful what they post on the social media. Moreover, it’s good idea to lock your profile and accept friend requests only if you know that person ‘personally’. Spreading your friend circle is a great idea but remember it’s a virtual world out there. Stay cautious. Most important, don’t shy away from approaching the police and naming and shaming the predator, when your privacy is compromised. It will act as an inspiration for others to come out in open and talk about it.

But then, it’s also the responsibility of the authorities to come up with stringent laws to stop this menace. There should be proper guidelines on clicking, publishing pictures in social media and they must be monitored strictly. Actions should be taken against shutter bugs who click pictures without the permission of people, for at the end of the day it’s OUR LIFE AND WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE WHAT WE WANT!

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