Shedding lightIt is disturbing that pages propagating rape, misogyny, paedophilia and the invasion of privacy exist.
Over the past few days, a stomach-churning side to Nepali social media has emerged. It seems that, for some time now, some Nepali men have created, joined and contributed to pages whose sole purpose is the objectification and denigration of women. Disturbingly, as if the existence of these media was not repulsive enough, some seem to be paedophilic in nature; many more posts and comments are extremely graphic and supportive of—or fantasising about—rape. That such a subculture exists is shocking and disturbing. No society should have to deal with elements as perverse as this.
The current exposure of these disgusting Nepali platforms seems to have begun after a similar group was outed in India. The Indian group, named Bois Locker Room, was apparently made up of teenagers who talked candidly of their disturbing fantasies involving gang rape. Upon seeing this, a Nepali woman shed light on social media of her own experience of being objectified by a similar group on Reddit, comprising Nepalis. This prompted more and more to speak up about their own experiences, revealing a sinister and insidious pool of online communities. While the first one of its kind seems to have cropped up on the partially anonymous community website Reddit, the recent revelations have brought to light similar groups and pages in platforms such as Twitter, too.
Pages that objectify humans and bring them down to images for sexual gratification have existed for as long as the internet has. While some, like legitimate pornography, may act like a harmless (albeit a bit perverse or awkward) release, the kinds of pages in question here cross lines and limits that should not be accepted or allowed in any society. The issue here is manifold.
The most obvious wrong here is the propagation of rape and paedophilic fantasies. There have also allegedly been some images of violations in these platforms. In no circumstance should it be deemed appropriate for people to normalise sex without consent or the abuse of children. Further, while free expression and free speech have been defended for many reasons, surely the fantasising of harming other humans in such devastating ways should not be considered one of them.
Another major issue that has come to light from these revelations is the invasion of privacy of many women. There have been reports of hackings, blackmail and the unconsented sharing of private communication, all for the gratification of some. Some have reportedly commented about the need for women (or men) to not take ‘damaging’ images or video should they not want it publicised. This, too, is alarming.
In a free society, individuals have the right to self-express in whatever form they want, provided that it does not harm others. Choosing to be selective about this self-expression is also a right. This choice is what differentiates between legitimate and safe pornography and an unauthorised breach of privacy. By breaching that trust and privacy, the individuals who then choose to repost these images without the permission of the original owner are not only being indecent, but they are also harming the individuals who did not want these images circulated en masse. By harming those featured, this act goes outside the ambit of what is considered freedom of expression.
The propagation of misogynistic and violent ideas should not be encouraged. Rape and paedophilia must never be normalised. And, again, free expression only covers what does not harm others; respect for privacy must be ingrained as a societal norm. There have also been doubts about the willingness of Nepal Police to investigate the pages in question. If true, this is truly damaging. All concerned state agencies must coordinate and cooperate in haste, to weed out such disturbing communities.
What do you think?
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