Jehanabad incident of woman filmed while being molested and stripped cannot be looked at in isolation

Barely a week ago, the Kathua rape victim’s name was found in the top search entry on a porn website.

 |  4-minute read |   30-04-2018
  • ---
    Total Shares

The Bihar police on April 30 arrested four people for molesting and stripping a girl, and recording the assault. The video shows the girl crying and begging the assailants for mercy as she tries to fend them off, while they laugh and jeer at her. One of the men lifts her off her feet as she struggles to free herself.   

This is not all. The incident came to the notice of the police because the video had been going “viral” over social media since the night of April 28. People had been watching a girl’s utter humiliation and then forwarding it, even posting it on Facebook and Twitter, ripping her privacy to shreds in the process.  

The incident came to the notice of the police because the video had been going “viral” over social media since the night of April 28. Photo: PTI/FileThe incident came to the notice of the police because the video had been going “viral” over social media since the night of April 28. Photo: PTI/File

By April 30, after the state crime branch got involved, the video was taken off social media platforms, but was still available on messaging apps.

So far, the girl has not come forward to lodge a complaint. The investigation is proceeding on the basis of the registration number of a bike that can be seen in the video. The accused have been booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), which means the police believe the victim to be a minor.

Not the only case

The Bihar incident is not an isolated case. It displays insensitive curiosity along with outright perversion.

What extent of insensitivity or depravity can propel people to circulate the video of an assault as horrific as molestation? This is voyeurism devoid of even an iota of conscience – when even the trauma and suffering of another human being is just fodder for titillation, to be savoured and shared.

It can be argued that the police took cognisance of the case and were able to arrest the accused only because they saw the video. However, for that, people could have directly reported the clip to the police, instead of sharing it among themselves.  

Last week, reports emerged that the name of the eight-year-old murdered child from Kathua had become the top-searched entry on a porn website. What can the progression of thought be from hearing of a horrific crime – a little girl is kidnapped, confined for eight days, drugged, tortured, gang-raped, killed – and then looking up the victim on porn websites?

This is not a recent trend either. In 2016, Al Jazeera had done a story on how rape videos were up for sale in Uttar Pradesh, prices starting Rs 20.

The report had said: “The faces of the women are visible in these films. Their voices are clear. The attacks on them are brutal.”

In a strange tale of the horrific merging with the banal, in some cases, these videos were shot to silence rape victims against filing police complaints. They were taken off phones that had come for repairs, and then became one of the many goods these shops offered.

This is conscience dead on a mass scale – some people committing a crime, others aware of its taking place, of its proof continuing as a perpetual threat and shame for the victim, and all this somehow serving to titillate, rather than repulse.

Rape is a power trip

The fact that people can get pleasure and thrill from another human being’s humiliation is another proof that rape is not just sexual violation, it is a power trip. Those committing the crime, and then those vicariously enjoying it, get a high off someone else being dominated, subjugated.

The Al Jazeera report quotes Mangla Verma, a lawyer who works in the field of human rights laws, as saying: “Rape is seen as an assertion of power by a man over a woman. It is in this process that he films the act, showing that he cannot only commit rape, but also record the same and circulate it among others. This is how patriarchy works.”

In a patriarchal society like India, many men are yet to grasp the fact that women are “equal” to them – with equal rights, respect and dignity. These men feel entitled to a woman, but with sex still a taboo and healthy interactions with the other gender non-existent, their suppressed desires turn ugly.

An Indiatimes report quotes psychiatrist Dr Sumant Khanna as saying, “The amalgamation of sex and violence is somehow rooted in Indian culture." “To watch a woman being suppressed in rape 'pornographic' videos is sexually stimulating for some and seeing a woman in agony also gives them a greater high,” he says.

Laws not enough

What a society does in the privacy of their bedrooms, or in the anonymity of large groups, is an accurate indicator of its moral index. After the Bihar case, concerns have again been raised about how social media platforms need to do more to curb the kind of content shared on them. Portals and messenger apps definitely need to monitor the uses they are being put to.

But this is just one more way to deflect responsibility off people who are indulging in such acts, and the society in which they act with impunity.

If only regulations from apps and websites stand between people and the enjoyment of rape videos, no woman will be safe in this country, irrespective of how many laws are enacted and how much they are strengthened.

Also read: Why the Mamata Banerjee government can suddenly see, hear or speak no ‘evil’

Writer

Yashee Yashee @yasheesingh

The writer is a journalist.

Like DailyO Facebook page to know what's trending.