Tuesday, February 17, 2015

# ShameTheRapistCampaign



It was 4th Feb 2015, a Wednesday. I had just come back from work late in the evening when I got a frantic call from a young man whom I had met in one of my lecture sessions. His voice was troubled and he sounded in deep distress. He told me that he had gone to visit his cousin at his office on that day when his cousin told him about two videos he had received on ‘whatsapp’. When he saw the videos his blood curled. Not knowing what to do he had called me. I told him to send me the videos. I also cautioned him that many morphed videos are also on the rounds and with so much pornography  all kinds of things are passed around.
Within half an hour both the videos reached me. I had a shock of my life when I viewed the videos. For a minutes I was nauseated. Two videos, one 8.5 mins long of a gang rape of a girl by five men and another 4.5 mins long of rape of a girl by a man. Both the videos were being recorded by somebody else whom the men were aware of but that person’s face is not captured. What was shocking was the look on the faces of all the six young men, whom now I would like to call as “rapist”, in any case they were flaunting their dastardly act. They were all smiling and making snide remarks. One guy was even masturbating while the other was raping the girl. The impunity of the act was mind boggling. Not only these lowly creatures had committed the worst form of violation but they also had the audacity to flaunt it and disseminate it in a public domain.
To me this was not only a slap on the criminal justice system but also on everyone who has even a small iota of humanity left in them. What gave these creatures the confidence to blow their trumpet about something which I would call the worst form of human rights violation.
And then I decided ENOUGH IS ENOUGH…this is a war and we need to fight it with the right strategy. For too many centuries the victim has been shamed, victimized, isolated, ostracized and stigmatized for a crime she has never committed. For too long the world at large chose to remain silent on the perpetrators and abusers. The result, we have created an enabling environment of impunity. This combined with our criminal justice system which has repeatedly failed in rising up to the occasion to create deterrence has completed the cycle of lawlessness. 
Today men committing such heinous crimes, have no remorse or guilt, on the contrary they celebrate their brutality with sickening mentality. Equally shocking is the fact that many of us have such disgusting voyeuristic tastes that we have not only viewed such videos but also helped these rascals in spreading the message.
On Thursday 5th Feb 2015 at 2.30pm I started #ShameTheRapistCampaign, I edited these videos, made it to 1 minute and 30 secs, blurred the images of the victim completely, highlighted the faces of the rapist, ensuring that people who see the video may get an idea of the region/locality by the languages these guys were speaking. It was obvious to me that it was not in South India.  I posted these videos on ‘youtube’ and launched my campaign to trace these rapist, shame them and hand over them to the authorities. In a couple of hours comments from all over the world started pouring in supporting the campaign. Most friends from media were silent, maybe they had not seen it, but NDTV spotted it and decided to support my campaign.
Next day ie 6th Feb 2015 at 9.30am I spoke about the campaign live on NDTV. Within minutes my car was vandalized.  I do not know whether to connect these two or not. I have done enough in my life to antagonize hundreds of people. I have been battling against the organized crime of sex trafficking for the last two decades. I am not in dearth of enemies.  But the campaign was already 12 hours old, so definitely there is a niggling feeling that somewhere it could be connected. Maybe not the men I am exposing, but others who have committed similar crimes and are presuming that I may have their videos too!
Thanks to the vandals, the campaign got a greater boost( every adversity has an opportunity). Media was all around me reporting the campaign. The campaign to me is going in the right direction as I received hundreds of mails and messages supporting it.  I also started receiving some other videos from all over the country. Around 11 mails came identifying one of the rapist. Many mails and calls came informing me that they had already seen these videos many months back.
Ofcourse I also got a lot of offensive pornographic mails, which felt as if they were saying “catch me if you can”. I even filed a case in the cyber cell. In the meantime the local police came and took the two videos for further investigation.  
My intention was not to just start a campaign on social media, but also to advocate for a mechanism to tackle this entire issue. So on my front I decided to take up the issue at the following levels:

1.     Request for a CBI probe on all the videos I was handing over to the Ministry of Home Affairs.(Apart from the first two videos, I had also recieved many others)
2.     Recommend to set up a task force in the Home Ministry to tackle sexual crimes.
3.     To create public friendly anonymous system where citizens can report such crimes within the Home Ministry.
4.     To set up a National Sex Offenders Directory of convicted sex offenders. This will not only name & shame convicted offenders, citizen will also get face to the offense. This is already in practice in many countries.
5.     Ministry of Home Affairs to have an agreement with youtube and ‘whatsapp’ to pass on any such offensive videos and to take it up suo motto.

With great difficulty I managed to get an appointment with the Home Secretary,Govt Of India whom I appraised him of the situation and also give in writing all my recommendations. For whatever it is worth it, he did give me a fair hearing and said all the right things. But till I do not see any real action, I will take all this with a pinch of salt.  In any case I have kept my backup plan ready.

In the meantime I also started hearing a lot of criticism about my campaign. In the beginning I was not able to fathom what was really hassling them. What could anyone have against ‘shaming a rapist’ who was already flaunting his crime?
But then slowly I realized many of the criticisms were about the video I had posted. It was pointed out that I had ignored the plight of the victims when they see such videos being played on ‘youtube’. It would amount to re-traumatization. Fair enough! But my question is when these videos were being passed around across the country with the faces of the victims for everybody to see, why did people not protest at that time. A good number of people who wrote to me told me they already seen these videos many months back. And these were people from various part of the country.
Was my blurring the faces of the victim a problem? Were people offended as they could see the act, but were able to see only the sinister laughs of these men.

Definitely I empathize with the pain of the victim. Having survived it myself and also after taking care of hundreds of such victims. But the fight for justice is not going to be a pleasant one. Especially in a context when the rapist/abuser does not even feel an iota of shame or remorse, but the victim is made to feel  shame & guilt in abundance. Till date the civil society has not even articulated their stand against the rapists/sex offenders/abusers. In any case we have collectively failed in creating an environment of deterrence and shame for the abuser….and I feel such a campaign is the first step towards it.

I am also aware that this can be misused. Men & woman have the capacity to misuse. Just because a person is born a woman, it does not mean she might not have criminal tendencies or she is holier than thou. There is a small but significant number of fake rape cases also reported. I hope in the course of time as this campaign spreads we will have more and more people applying their mind to ensure how these kind of campaigns are not misused and innocent human beings are not harassed.
I request your suggestions to make this campaign stronger and powerful…lets together be part of a movement to make this world a safe place for all of us.
           
      

20 comments:

  1. Hats off
    this is a gu starting,i think it can at least make a self examination to the pseudo heroes ...
    my support

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  2. Thank you for making all of us feel safe everyday. You chose this as you personal battle and fought it even when it should be everyone's concern. I believe the problem lies in the fact that most people are not aware of how the system works. They worry on lot of aspects such as will they be held responsible, would they have to spend endless hours behind the case, will they be framed as a criminal, will they be attacked by goons whom they went against. Most of us don't even know what should be done if we come across a situation. It is important to create awareness and educate people on steps that can be taken, how the system works, how their confidentiality will be maintained etc etc. You have taken the bold step to put together a system where people can report and now I believe it is important to educate people on what should be done in such scenarios. Most of them including me hesitate to report due to the fact that we kind of assume nothing will be done about it or that we would have to keep reporting to the police station which is not likely appreciated in our culture. There are number of helpline and apps meant for safety. The question is how many of us are even aware of it or use it. I asked my friends as to how many of them are aware of the childrens helpline number 1098 and none of them said a yes. There is a 172 page child protection guidelines set by Delhi police which is available for download online which details all the aspects of child abuse and even rape. I do not know how many of us have even gone through the document or such a document even exists. It is essential that we educate the future generation on the right moral values. We all say no to sex education but we forget the fact that sex education can educate children on abuse and how to protect themselves from harm. There is an app named isafe for children available for free which educates children on sexual abuse but surprisingly only 50 people have downloaded it. We have the resources but most people are hesitant to use it. Now that we have a courageous person who took all the trouble to lay a foundation to create a proper justice system, I believe it is our duty to create awareness and educate people so that tomorrow it is not one of us or our loved ones. This should be a wake up call for all of us to demand a better system where criminals are brought to justice in the right manner.

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  3. Miss, Work you are doing is commendable. Can you post Tips about how these Rapists Identify their Targets & How can one be cautious. Physical Violation is done on all genders but other genders mainly go unreported. Change in People's Mentality can bring pressure on Justice System to act Strongly

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  4. There is no doubt that your work is applaudable and we all should be like you. The steps that you have taken are absolutely impressive and right.

    For faster action in my opinion we should do something to bring the public out on the streets from every city. Police took action so quickly to catch the culprits in Nirbhayas case only because people were on the streets and there was immense pressure on the police. This case is equally important because the culprits are still roaming freely and can do it again or may be doing the same to other victims. Our system unfortunately does not act before things go worse.

    Is it possible to have this in our plan as well as priority, apologies if it sounds simple but worth a thought

    1. Contact the political offices like Shiv Sena, BJP offices in every city asking them to submit the copies of the photos of the culprits in their local police stations to request information by their informers.

    2. Posters of the rapists to be printed and circulated in every city. A fund raising global link to be setup to get the money for printing these posters. We all will support and circulate this link to get funds.

    3. Organise a rally and declare the dates for the rally. Peoples support is definite for these kind of cases. Again advertising the rally is very important.

    Regards
    Sanjay M

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  5. Keep a copy with you mam.

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  6. was anyone of those arseholes identified?

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  7. Hello madam,

    I wouldn't like to waste any of your time so getting straight into the matter. Would it be possible for the police to create potential rape scenarios to track these rapists. If they send a young lady(maybe a police in nonuniform) to places where you think there are potential rapists (like places people sitting in gangs) and if they can be arrested if they attempt a rape and brought to the light, there will be fear in their minds. It might take 100s of such incidents to create that fear in them. To make them think that they are being watched. There has to be some way to create fear in their minds , only then would rapes stop. Unfortunately Indian rules aren't as strong as the Middle East where people are stoned to death if convicted.

    With Lots of Love and Respect

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  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. Just a couple of suggestions that you might have already considered.
    1. Possibly consider an on line petition that can be shared world wide so that you have additional support for this agenda. Possibly submit the on line petition to the Home Secretary to put additional pressure... Also negative attention in western media automatically gets individuals moving. So an international on line petition might put them under more pressure.
    2. Would it be an idea to ask for prosecution of the individuals who forwarded these messages too? Of course I don't mean the ones who forwarded it to you for action, but the ones who for the last many months had been passing it around amongst their friends.. I am sure you can't control what is sent to you (though you might want to re consider your who your friends are if you received this message from one of them) but you can definitely control what you forward. So with networking and data collection it would be possible to track the individuals who forwarded these messages - and if they could be held accountable as well I think it would work as a strong deterrent. People don't quite understand technology and think that they are untouchable behind the guise of the Internet - but that's far from true..
    3. Possibly a national help line or e mail account that women who want to report such an incident can access.. Possibly advertising that account more widely amongst the masses through television and social media like what's app..

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  10. We r with, first authorities need to answer y rapists r not caught yet?

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  11. courageous woman...my God bless you to proceed in the right path to success of ur campaign..will pray

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  12. More than the rapists , The elected officials, Govt staff, Judiciary are to be blamed. Those who caught are never punished. If you have money,power you can escape. No one is afraid of the Law in India. 1000s of children are kidnapped every year. Does anyone bother about that. If the Govt wants, It can install 15000 Security camera in 45 days to ensure safety. But for poor and middle class indians, Forget about them.

    But one thing, if you are doing work like , you have to be little bit alert always. Put in place , security camera's in your home, office and in your cars.

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  13. Cant we get the support of media for this campaign?not the social networking media..TV channels where most common ppl have access to..this will have more impact than with whatapp and fb.

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  14. Also, the media has to be educated on the way these incidents are reported. I think they are promoting these rapists in a way that similar incidents increase day by day.

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  15. Kudos to you. I have long been fighting this inside of me. You are a ray of hope.

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  16. Hi Sunitha,

    There is another terrible ragging video going on in whatsapp where one crying junior is made to strip by seniors and exploited. Can you take up this issue as well? I can get you the video.

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  17. Hi Sunitha,

    I found a website with a few of those horrible video while looking at fun video on the net, one is even called "indian rape" !

    Here is the website : http://www.heavy-r.com/user/kurtklagenfurt?pro=videos

    Please moderate this comment I don't wish for anyone to see those revolting video.

    An anonymous source from far

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  18. Best punishment for such criminals is "Bobbitt" and publish their pictures in news papers and social media.

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  19. Hi Sunitha,

    I really appreciate & salute the courage shown by you. How can I share such video with you?

    Prashant,

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