Home > Criminal Justice, Individual and the State > Cyber-sexual harassment – a shocking story

Cyber-sexual harassment – a shocking story

This post is actually somewhat personal, but it actually happened to a friend of mine in Singapore.  It is a shocking story about how a man hijacked a woman’s identity, abused it, and how the Singaporean legal system appears to be utterly impotent in protecting its own citizen.

Cyber Harassment and Women’s Rights

[Excerpt]

My life has not quite been the same since 2nd Nov 2010. A person whom I helped in real life decided to destroy my life by posting my personal details bearing my name, age, ethnic group, work and mobile phone numbers, workplace and home address in an online ad as a teacher in Singapore advertising for sexual services.

This person (for the sake of convenience, I shall call him the impersonator) also stole pictures of me from a friend’s Facebook photo album and posted it along with my personal particulars these online ads which were placed in local classified online ad websites as well as on international pornographic sites. He also created a fake Facebook profile on me bearing my name.

He impersonated me online and chatted with men and had them to call and visit my school where I teach and my residence to “indulge in rape fantasies in my school toilets.” He also incited men “catch me by surprise at my home and school.”

What has been rather shocking is the attitude of the Singaporean law enforcement authorities to her complaints.

From my experience with cyber harassment, it is very frustrating when ever I articulated my fears to the authorities about me (or my female pupils) being sexually attacked as these fears were dismissed as “just talk by cowards hiding behind the cloak of the internet” , or when they dismissed the perpetrator as “ a juvenile delinquent or mischief-maker”. I was made to feel that I was making a mountain out of a molehill despite receiving numerous rape threats bordering on the hundreds and visitation by men at my home for “sexual services’ who wanted to “catch me by surprise” by either “hid[ing] in my school toilet to rape me and my female students as instructed by [me]” or “wait[ing] at my flat’s void deck to rape me.”

So the cavalier attitude adopted by the law enforcement agencies in regards to my case of cyber harassment only demonstrated to me this: Cyber harassment is gender discrimination as women in my country need to tolerate these cyber “pranks”. Despite the identity of the perpetrator known to the authorities and the fact that he admitted to creating the ad and impersonating me, he is still out there and free to send even more men to my home and workplace to “indulge in [my] rape fantasies.”

I get the impression that the authorities will only take action when I do eventually get raped by one of these men sent by the perpetrator or when one of my female pupils gets raped. Even then, the perpetrator might walk free as the rape might be committed by the “minions of sexually frustrated men or perverts” whom he incited to visit me.

The law enforcement officer in charge of cybercrime have also advised her that “law in Singapore has not evolved to deal with cases like this.”  This turns out to be a rather strange statement, because as my friend found out, there are actually quite a few laws in Singapore that appear to deal with cyber-sexual harassment, such as the Indian Penal Code and the Computer Misuse Act.  Infringement of the latter legislation in Singapore carries a maximum of two years imprisonment.

Perhaps it is closer to the truth to suggest that law enforcement authorities in Singapore have not quite caught up with the law.  Not an unusual situation in many developing countries, but one would have expected better from Singapore.  If this has happened in Australia, the media would have pounced on it, and the relevant minster would front out to the camera and face some tough questions.  I am not familiar with the role of the Singaporean media in Singaporean society, but this is where a robust media can play a vital role in a civil society.

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  1. May 11, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    I couldnít refrain from commenting. Exceptionally well written!

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