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VIDEOS FOR SALE
Pictures speak a thousand words, videos a few more. In a perverse trend that should put our collective consciousness to shame, filmed murders and videographed rapes are a new rage. That we as humans can kill each other, that the men of this world can force their sexual perversities on women as a matter of right is horrendous enough, but that we also choose to make videos of our gruesome-selves is mental corrosion of the worst kind.
In 2015, a woman went missing along with her infant. In 2016, the family received a video through an MMS of her being gang-raped by six men. By the time the family had received this video, it had already gone viral on the internet. Videos and photos going viral is so much a part of popular parlance that we need to pause for a bit and revisit the meaning of what makes them viral to understand the gravity of what we are addressing in this piece.
A viral video or photo is one that becomes popular through a repeated process of internet sharing, typically through video/photo-sharing websites, social media and email. This sharing widens the ambit of the culprits, who popularise the pornography of violence.
Why are such videos made
In Rajasthan’s Rajsamand district this week, a man named Shambhu Lal Regar hacked and burnt alive a migrant labourer from West Bengal named Mohammad Afrazul and made no attempts to hide his crime. He, on the contrary, spoke to the camera that was reportedly held by his 14-year-old nephew claiming the killing was a message for those who support and participate in “love jihad”.
Many have demanded death sentence for Regar on the ground that this act falls under the “rarest of the rare crime”. We would have been lucky if it was indeed rare. But such videographed justice delivery is India's new normal.
In July 2016, seven members of a Dalit family were beaten up by a group of gau rakshaks for skinning a dead cow. The perpetrators recorded the act on mobile cameras. Their shrieks resulting from the intense pain that they were subjected to were clearly audible. The lacerations that dotted their frail bodies were visible too in the video that went viral. Also audible in the video was the message from the hate-mongers, who claimed to be protectors of the cow. Humans, of course, do not need protection as they are bestowed with the ingenuity to protect themselves.
In April 2017, a dairy farmer named Pehlu Khan was lynched by cow vigilantes in Rajasthan’s Alwar district. The brutality of what happened to him came to light when a video of the incident went viral. Pehlu Khan subsequently died in hospital.
The economy of filmed violence
According to an Al Jazeera report of 2016, which was subsequently, followed up by the local media too, footage of women being raped or gang-raped in India’s most populous state Uttar Pradesh is widely up for sale.
“The faces of the women are visible in these films. Their voices are clear. The attacks on them are brutal,” quotes the report.
Follow-up stories confirmed our worst fears about the apathy of the system when it emerged the trend continued and authorities were rendered helpless in stopping it. Such stomach-churning videos that evoke absolute disgust are dirt cheap – from Rs 50 to Rs 500. This business of human bodies – and worse their souls – is flourishing with complete impunity. Reports suggest that hands of police officials are greased well to allow this crime to continue without hindrance.
Why videographing such crimes is so problematic
A huge number of lynchings that have happened in the remote corners of the country would have gone completely unnoticed had videos documenting them not come to the fore. As these videos went viral, a public debate around the crime started and in some cases did lead to nailing the actual criminals. But in most cases no such breakthrough came.
The videos existed in public domain titillating its consumers and gradually normalising the crime itself. And that perhaps is the most dangerous outcome of the practice. It can completely make this medieval-era practice of mob justice, seen in numerous cases of lynchings in the name of "gau raksha" - and now also "love jihad" - perfectly normal. These videos also glorify the perpetrators for those who are supporters of ideologies in the name of which lynchings take place. Numerous unemployed youths get drawn to this negative agenda and in turn become active participants in this heinous crime by sharing and forwarding such videos.
It can also make rape and gang-rape appear perfectly normal. Given that there are so many customers of real-life sexual assaults, it is indeed a possibility that a lot of violence against women is being committed because voyeurism has a ready market.
Devil lost in the details
The brutality exhibited in filmed crimes often grouses out the sane minds and they in turn choose to look the other way. Some talk about how gruesome the video is and forget the intention of the crime and also the politics behind putting them in public domain. These videos are tools in the hands of the hate-mongers who use them as engines to spread fear to gain complete subjugation of people to their sickening ideologies and misogyny, which make killing and raping justifiable causes.
We live in times where technology has started to gain control over us. There is no quick-fix solution to this rising menace. We perhaps need to start talking about why we are being fed the gory details of crimes committed on humans by none other than the perpetrators themselves without a care for law and agencies tasked to enforce it.
Why videos of rape, lynching and hackings are on the rise in India VARIETY VANDANA 09-12-2017
Crackdown on child porn, rape videos with ISP norms, portal Rahul Tripathi | New Delhi | December 16, 2017
Crackdown on child porn, rape videos with ISP norms, portal Rahul Tripathi | New Delhi | December 16, 2017
Website to report child porn and rape to be up and running by January 10 Harish V Nair Christopher Gonsalves December 18, 2017
The new findings by the United Nations organisation for children found that around 71pc of young people are online compared to 48pc of the entire population.
One in every three people using the internet is a child.
However, Unicef said that "too little is done to protect them from the perils of the digital world and to increase their access to safe online content" in its flagship end-of-year report.
The organisation pointed to the increasing sale and supply of child pornography images as particularly worrying.
They indicated that criminals are now capable of purchasing explicit images such as these without being traced.
"Digital networks like the Dark Web and cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin are enabling the worst forms of exploitation and abuse, including trafficking and 'made to order' online child sexual abuse," the report said.
Meanwhile, the report added that predators can more easily make contact with children online using anonymous accounts on social media or gaming profiles.
Around 33pc of children surveyed worldwide as part of the report said unwanted sexual content was their biggest dislike about the internet.
Responding to the findings, Unicef executive director Anthony Lakes said there was a serious challenge in fighting the dangers of the online world.
He explained that the use of cryptocurrencies and the Dark Web had made it much easier for criminals to conceal the trafficking of children and such explicit images.
"For better and for worse, digital technology is now an irreversible fact of our lives," Mr Lakes said.
"In a digital world, our dual challenge is how to mitigate the harms while maximising the benefits of the internet for every child."
Another issue with the web noted by the organisation included the increased use of mobile phones by children.
Unicef said personal phones were making it more difficult for parents to monitor what their children were getting up to online.
In its report, Unicef made a number of recommendations in order to combat the challenges.
It said children needed to be put to the forefront of any digital policy making.
"The internet was designed for adults, but it is increasingly used by children and young people - and digital technology increasingly affects their lives and futures," Mr Lake said.
"So digital policies, practices, and products should better reflect children's needs, children's perspectives and children's voices."
The report also recommended that children be taught in schools to be digitally literate to "keep them informed, safe and engaged online".
Mr Lake also said children in developing countries must have access to digital technology.
"By protecting children from the worst digital technology has to offer and expanding their access to the best, we can tip the balance for the better," he said.
African youths are the least digitally connected, with around 60pc not having access compared to only 4pc in Europe.
The report also pointed out that children were using this technology at an increasingly younger age, with results from some countries finding that children as young as 15 were just as likely to use the internet as an adult over the age of 25.
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