‘Telangana Shocker’, ‘Hyderabad Horror’ screamed the headlines (including ours) when the barbaric rape and murder of a 26-year-old veterinarian came to light. But is it really a shocker anymore? Are we horrified anymore? Clearly not because we are a perverse and bestial society.
Why else would there be screenshots of pornographic sites with trending searches for the Hyderabad victim's name?
On Friday, the charred body of the victim was found near a culvert. A detailed investigation and CCTV footage showed that the woman, who had been returning from her clinic on Thursday, found that her scooter's tyre had been punctured. Two men approached her and offered to help repair the vehicle, which had been parked near a toll plaza.
The woman, sensing that something was off, called her sister. Yes, she felt it would be more beneficial to call her family, than dial 100. Despite what the Telangana home minister said, lapses in the police procedures were made evident when the victim's family tried to file a complaint and were told that she may have eloped.
The body's discovery led to four men and their barbarism, which was eerily similar to the horrors suffered by the woman in the 2012 Nirbhaya rape case. The accused, Mohammed Arif, Chintakunta Chennakeshavulu, Jollu Shiva, and Jollu Naveenn, were arrested by the police within 24 hours and all four have allegedly confessed to the heinous crime that they committed.
Ever since the incident came to light, social media has been up in arms - posts of outrage, posts by women expressing their fear and helplessness, ridiculous claims by lawmakers who believe that mob violence is the solution. And of course, victim-shaming and moral policing have been in abundance.
Having said that, what is really missing amid the cacophony is a degree of sensitivity. For instance, the widespread circulation of the victim's photos online. While some may argue that it highlights the dire nature of the situation, it can only be treated as a gross violation of a person's dignity and privacy.
Now, we, as a collective society, seem to have hit rock bottom as far as humanity is concerned, with an increased number of Indians searching for the rape video on pornographic sites and on Google.
Google trends over the past few days show that along with the victim's name and identity, a large number of people have been searching for "Hyderabad rape video", "Hyderabad gang rape video" and other related keywords. In the screenshots below, News18 has blacked out the victim's identity which we are law-bound to protect.
For the unaware, Google Trends works based on what people, in a specific geographical location, have been searching for in a well-defined time limit. It is anonymous, yet can reveal the location and the time frame in which the relevant keywords have been looked up and in the frequency of the same.
This is not the first time something like this has happened. After the monstrous rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, her name, photos and rape video were also the top searches on Google and pornographic sites.
Yes, while the whole nation was grieving the loss of yet another "daughter of the nation", a group of twisted, sick individuals has been frantically trying to access the video. Why? Carnal pleasures, of course.
In a country where sex continues to be a taboo and discussions about one's sexuality are as good as forbidden, studies reveal that there is a certain sadistic and voyeuristic satisfaction about viewing such videos. In short, we may summarise this tendency as a means of publicly satiating one's lust through these videos.
What is more alarming is the fact that people searching for these videos have been protected by a shield of impunity or an attitude that no one can implicate them. This speaks volumes about the gaps in the judiciary system, flawed policies and even faultier implementation, sheer lack of gender sensitization - all of which are rampant in our country.
The country, as a whole, has failed its women by stooping to this new low, as if that was even possible. While we raise slogans against the four men who committed the deed, this depraved, deranged and debauch group of individuals (the kind who would go to the extent of installing a proxy server and a VPN on their gadgets and even pay a few extra bucks in order to derive sexual satisfaction from a rape video), continue to lurk in the shadows. That should answer the question whether women are safe in India.
No country for women? Probably. Keep the above data in mind, the next time you counter the argument that India is the most unsafe nation in the world right now for women.