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Brazil's 'Nirbhaya' moment

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  30 May 2016 12:00 AM GMT

If entire India was traumatized by its ‘Nirbhaya’ moment in 2012, Brazil is going through a similar convulsion now. If the December 16 gangrape in New Delhi was bone-chilling in the extremities of cruelty perpetrators can go to, the Rio de Janeiro gangrape last weekend has raised highly disturbing questions about misuse of social media as well. If women are viciously attacked, filmed and then perpetually defamed and humiliated in social media, what is to be done? The outrage committed in a poor neighborhood in Rio only came to light after a disturbing video began to circulate on Twitter. Shockingly, some of the perpetrators themselves had posted the video, bragging about what over thirty of them had inflicted upon the teeged victim. Even more sickening — their tweets gathered hundreds of ‘likes’ and misogynistic comments, while the victim’s family and friends watched with dismay. It was only when hundreds of furious social media users besieged the local police online that they stirred to action. Protesting citizens and women’s rights activists in tens of thousands are now marching through the streets of Brazil. They point to an ‘ebling environment’ for such depravity, with the police totally lax when it comes to crimes against women, where even a lawmaker recently threatened a female counterpart with rape right in the midst of a parliamentary debate. The seriousness of the mece can be gauged from some statistics — that in year 2014 alone, almost 50,000 rapes were reported across the country; in Rio, there were 13 such cases reported per day on average. Since most rapes are thought to go unreported, Brazil is battling a social malaise of much larger dimensions. All this rings a bell in India too, a dangerous country for women where a stricter law has been ected to punish rape. But the problem lies in slipshod police investigation, tortuous trial process and a general mindset to blame the victim. In particular, there have been instances of women victims committing suicide, uble to bear the humiliation of their images circulated on mobile phones and posted on social media. Offenders have been known to use the threat of circulating such pictures worldwide to shame victims into silence. Cases like these have occurred in Assam and some other Northeastern states as well. Such cyber crimes need to be tackled with severity. This calls for police and law enforcement agencies to have active and capable cyber monitoring cells. What is more, they need to have a smooth and hassle-free system of getting alerts from concerned Netizens about offensive images circulating online. And it is a responsibility of all right-thinking internet and social media users to report such instances and register their protest. Else, evildoers will seek to take over the cyber world just as they do in the real world, like bad currency driving out the good.

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