On 25th July 2016, the eyeartcollective (dot) com reported an instance of repeated sexual harassment by an undergraduate student of Jadavpur University (Kolkata). The student abuser under scanner, is from the English department. His parent is the English professor in the same department. By the virtue of which it seems, he garners social clout in the environment. His friend from Presidency College (Kolkata) has been accused of standing up in defense, when the victims took to social media so that the abuser is brought to book. The abuser has deleted his Facebook account but his friend continues to be on her account. The social media wave about the abuser was initiated by one victim and many other instances came to light thick and fast. It has been said that the abuser used social media to harass the victims and also attacked them physically. Since the abuser is said to be an undergraduate, he could not be more than 17 or 18 years old.
It was brave of the victim to bring the trauma out in the open. For the reader, the content of harassment, for the want of a better word, would be shocking. When I read it, my stomach churned. For some strange reason, I could relate to the inexplicable feeling of desolation upon being subjected to such sexual filth. People say, “She was violated”. The words do not convey the sense of being violated which is similar to J.K Rowling’s description of a dementor. Your life becomes the Azkaban prison. Everything inside you dies before you do. This particular matter gets further complicated because an unbelievable tsunami of social filth has up-surged. The abuser is trolled and dehumanized by the society and media. The victim is also trolled, dehumanized and accused of having ‘invited’ the ‘social rape’. There are some women who do not realize that in the process of abusing the sexual predator, they are actually spreading misogyny by resorting to expletives around female genitals. The type of language used in public outrage has brought to light our lack of wisdom and sensitivity in dealing with such issues and the acidic intensity we pour into demonstrating the same.
As per the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), sexual offenders are not ‘crazy’ or ‘psychotic’ people. Usually three circumstances lead to sexual offence – single factor, multi factor and micro factor. Single factor is when a particular mental disorder has directly triggered the offence. Multi-factor is when a bunch of factors have contributed to offence, even if not directly led to it. Micro factor is diagnosis of the offender by the victim’s account of his behavior. The sexual offenders might possibly suffer from organic brain damage and learning disability. A critical development task in male adolescents is the distinction and control over aggressive and sexual impulses. They can develop abnormalities if there are any adverse early developmental experiences or differences in hormonal functioning. The sexual offenders can be driven by opportunity, wrath, obsessive compulsive disorder, misogyny, sadomasochism and vengeance. The impact of sexual offence on a woman, not only leads to her psychological damage but also drives destructive ideology into her psyche that spreads into the masses, thus becoming a socio-cultural norm put through the rigor of a negative concept.
The act of sexual offence has to be punished. The offender and the victims have to be given medical and social aide. An enabling environment has to be created by the society and the media so that holistic healing is possible and further instances of the same are mitigated. Towards this, the Centre of Social Research has been conducting #SocialSurfing workshops for social media literacy. Our goal is not only to create safer and healthier online experiences for the youth but also to inject positive social concepts like feminism, women empowerment and exercising freedom of speech. As a part of this initiative, on 11th July 2016, we kick started our #SocialSurfing 2.0 with the students of Sri Ram College of Commerce and the students of Pennsylvania University.
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