Sandeep Sahu

Whoever thought of incorporating a camera into the good old talk-only mobile phone could not have imagined in his/her wildest dream the innovative ways it could be put to use. One could shoot just about anything – near and dear ones, family dos, fun times with friends, a picturesque locale, an accident site …you name it. The advent of the front camera made things even more exciting with selfies, notwithstanding the numerous deaths caused by it, becoming the de rigueur. But the real big breakthrough came with the entry of the internet into the mobile scene, which made it possible to send/upload anything one shoots to anyone/anywhere in the world in seconds.

So far, so good. But the spread of the smart phone has taken a bizarre course in India, a country on the cusp of a sexual liberation when the pocket sized dynamo arrived on the scene. It brought out the worst in the Indian male and gave him a sense that he now has a tool to live out his long suppressed sexual fantasies/perversions. Just having sex was not enough anymore; the act had to be recorded on a mobile video camera to be ‘savoured’ by one or both the partners in future or shared with friends for the bragging rights. In due course, things took a more sinister turn with some spotting an avenue to make a fast buck with such videos. Others found in them an opportunity to settle scores by making it ‘viral’ on social media when an affair went sour. But things have now touched the nadir with hordes of wolves on the prowl looking for a prey to feast on and record the whole thing on the smart phone – either as an insurance against the girl lodging a complaint, as a tool to blackmail the hapless victim into sex again or earn some money out of it. [For the uninitiated, sex videos are a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide with the kinkier stuff fetching the maximum price!]

Also ReadAn Elaborate Exercise In Obfuscation

An analysis of the three back-to-back videos – two from Baripada and one from Keonjhar - that have gone viral in the last one week gives us a peep into the motivation of the perpetrators in doing what they have done. Two of the videos – one each in Baripada and Keonjhar (both of them old though) – are cases where the victim has been forced to strip. [It is not clear if the act was followed up with rape.] In the clip from Keonjhar, the perverts pounce on a lonely woman while the victim is accompanied by her male friend in the Baripada one. While both the cases are repugnant, the Baripada incident is particularly noteworthy because it shows that girls accompanied by their boyfriends are not any less vulnerable than a girl out on a lonely street. In fact, many cases in the recent past – the most recent being in Gajapati a few weeks ago where a girl accompanied by her fiancé was assaulted and shot on camera – suggest that girls with boys are even more vulnerable. The thinking of the perverts seems to be; “Since you are having fun anyway, why can’t we join in?”

Preliminary reports suggest that the second Baripada case is one of a jilted lover getting vengeful after his affair with the girl went awry for some reason. This kind of video, which constitutes a majority among those in circulation on the internet, holds an important lesson for girls. By all means, fall in love, get intimate and even have sex, but NEVER allow your boyfriend to record anything on camera no matter how madly you are in love. You never know when this can come back to fall on you like a ton of bricks, subject you to shame and ridicule and – if you are not strong enough mentally – lead you to suicide, as has happened in many cases. Always be on the lookout for that smart phone camera clandestinely placed by your beau to record your intimate moments without your knowledge.

The silver lining in this murky scenario is that more and more girls – and their parents – are now overcoming their fear of social opprobrium and reporting such incidents to the police. This, more than any stringent law, would prove to be the biggest deterrent for the potential mischief monger. Keeping quiet is not an option even if the boy only threatens to make the video viral. If anything, girls can pre-empt any such course by the rogue by promptly reporting the matter to the police.

For girls – and their parents – it is time to overcome the fear of the social stigma.