Social media: a possible gateway to sexual harassment

Social media: a possible gateway to sexual harassment

We live in such a world whereby everything is digitized: from online working to online dating,  technology spreads its tentacles far and wide. One of the main aspects of technology is social media. The latter is as if oxygen for the digital era but unlike oxygen, it is causing harm to people. Breach of privacy, cyberbullying, sexual harassment form part and parcel of social media. It can be said that social media has its dark side exposing the bad side of humans. 

Recently in Mauritius, a case came to the surface whereby intimate pictures of girls including children and minors were being circulated in different group chats on a platform namely,  Telegram. Those group chats consist of more than 1000 men, some of whom are selling those pictures while others are simply witnessing the scene. Here arise many questions such as, “Is  social media a platform for sexual predators ?” A survey of more than 10,000 people concluded that the percentage of women who say they have experienced online sexual harassment has doubled since 2017, from 8% to 16% according to a Pew research center report. Thus it is crystal clear how easy it is for sexual predators to attack women virtually as is the case with the  Telegram issue. Unfortunately most reported sexual harassment cases do not see the light however, this issue saw the light. Thanks to a group of committed young people, the whole Telegram group was exposed on Instagram. And it’s currently being investigated by the authorities. The local newspapers wrote about it and debates are being held on it.  

When the whole matter is reflected upon, it is noticed how people are powerful together compared to if nobody talked about the issue. Simultaneously, awareness is being done on social platforms mainly through posts and live feeds in which the youth is speaking about their opinions and experiences while a huge audience is supporting them. This issue gave rise to an awareness campaign during a lockdown through social media. 

In conclusion, social media is a powerful tool. Somehow the yin and yang concept can be implemented in this scenario whereby there is the presence of both positivity and negativity in the virtual social life similar to actual life. However, the youth actually can handle issues arising due to social media as the Telegram issue is a major example of youth voice. The problem, in the end, lies in the mindset of people not on social media platforms. Sexual harassment towards women is indeed an alarming issue, be it online or to any woman walking down the road. Sex education needs to be considered as an important tool through which the public is edified. As a matter of fact, the subject becomes completely vital to the public-school curriculum. Not only does this lead to a better understanding of human development and human sexuality at a younger age but will also increase awareness towards sexual harassment at an early stage. We think there is a case to make this mandatory for all public-school systems. Together with this, counseling can also be provided in all school systems and workplaces, as sadly, sexual harassment is omnipresent and is a matter that should be catered for all promptly. We believe that to see improvement considering this distress, laws and intensive punishments should be passed by the government and prompt actions must be taken on time to avoid aggravated situations. 

-By Triya Sookorry and Sobrun Nidhi