A nation of voyeurs

Video footage of a young woman being molested by a group of men in Guwahati was, thanks to our helpful news channels, flashed across the country for much of yesterday. There are two particularly worrying things about the incident. Firstly, it marks a new low in our ability, as a nation, to watch anything — irrespective of how shocking, gory or exploitative to the victims — without cringing or making a hue and cry about it. Secondly, it betrays a frightening lack of a moral code of conduct among those who decided to film that crime on mobile phones in the first place. The worst thing is how occurrences like these (all caught on camera) are becoming commonplace.

Not too long ago, a teenager in Delhi was molested on the street and the act captured on camera by a bystander who did nothing but watch. A famous story we broke a few years ago, on New Year’s Eve, saw another woman molested by crowds outside the Gateway of India. There were hundreds of people. They did nothing.

Please bear in mind that the molestation of that girl from Guwahati prompted an outcry only after it was uploaded to YouTube. Assam’s Director General of Police thanked prompt media coverage for the video clip, saying it would have been hard to identify the culprits without it. According to a spokesperson of the TV channel that filmed the incident, justice would not have been served and the molesters would have escaped if it weren’t for them filming.

Earlier this week, our reporters spotted teenagers posing for photographs in Igatpuri, using the guesthouse where starlet Laila Khan was allegedly murdered and buried as a backdrop. We are fast becoming a nation of voyeurs. Sadly, many of us now decide to leave the action to someone else. 

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