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INCIDENTS OF VOYERUISM

The increasing number of cases of Voyeurism knocks most of our socks off when we first hear about it. It leaves us feeling vulnerable as our rights can be violated any time and at any place, sometimes even without our knowledge. It is also possible that a person has already been recorded and is unaware of their private video circulating the World Wide Web. In most cases, the victim becomes aware of the spread of such material much later, after most of the damage is already done. The following cases will show you not just the ways in and places where voyeurism is committed but also the extent of such crimes and their growing numbers.

  1. DRESSING ROOMS
    The favorite location of operation for most voyeurs is the DRESSING ROOM. Dressing rooms also known as trial rooms, fitting rooms and changing rooms are present at malls, shopping centers, swimming pools, sports locker rooms, gyms, department stores, performance halls, diagnostic centres and many more places. They are a necessity in most of these places and help increase convenience for proper enjoyment of the places mentioned. But this is the perfect spot for a voyeur to fulfill his voyeuristic fantasies.

    Some examples of such incidents are as follows:

    1. The Smriti Irani case
      The most famous and recent of the lot is the Smriti Irani – Fab India case. The then, Union Human Resource and Development Minister found a camera in a Fab India store in Pandolim, Goa pointing towards the store’s changing room. It was later found on CCTV camera that the accused staffer had changing the direction of the camera to face the changing room. Swift action was taken against 4 accused and investigations were done even with the Fab India store managers after a BJP MLA Michael Lobo filed an FIR. In the FIR, the accused were charged under Section 354 of the IPC (Outraging the modesty of a woman), Section 354 C of the IPC (Voyeurism), Section 509 of the IPC (Insult to the modesty of a woman) and Section 66 E of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (capturing/publishing image of private area of person without consent). However, although this incident took place in 2015, the charge sheet was filed in September 2017. It is pertinent to note that if a chargesheet is not filed in 90 days, the accused gets bail immediately if he is in custody. If this is the case with the HRD Minister of India, a common man’s situation will be hopeless.
    2. Jaipur JORSS apparel store
      In April, 2016, in an apparel store called JORSS, in Jaipur a girl found a CCTV camera in an apparel store and informed the police. The police arrested 4 people including the owner of the store. The mall has terminated their contract with the store and has asked them to vacate the place.
    3. FabIndia incident recurring at Kolhapur
      Another incident came to light in a FabIndia outlet in Kolhapur, Maharashtra in March 2015. A man was caught on CCTV recording a woman in the trial room with his phone. He placed the phone in the gap between the door and the floor. He was arrested and sent to judicial custody. Here is important to bring to attention the liability of the store management. Although investigations are made in many cases but the owners and managers are never held liable. This is another drawback of the present law on Voyeurism.
    4. Faisalabad, Pakistan Levi’s case

      In Feb, 2018 a Pakistani man filed a complaint after finding a camera in a hidden box in the trial room of a Levi’s outlet in Faisalabad, Pakistan. The man was in the store with his sister. They did not find anything suitable but the manager insisted that the sister try on a few clothes. The sister detected the camera and clicked pictures of them. On questioning the manager, he snatched the phone and deleted the pictures while another employee removed the camera. The man was finally forced to apologize to the manager but informed the police as soon as he left the store.

      The city has formed four committees to inspect any hidden cameras in the fitting rooms of garment stores in their respective tehsils and the committee will visit all garment shops and their changing rooms and submit its report in one week. Appropriate action under relevant laws will be taken accordingly, a notification by the office of the deputy commissioner stated.

    5. America’s voyeur coach
      American coach and Wind Lake Gymnastic Center owner, James Kivisto, was arrested in March, 2018 for filming students in the clubs changing room. A parent informed the police about the camera in the room. The coach was also in possession of child pornography according to the investigations. This 49-year old man owned and operated the gymnasium for 11 years, training young gymnasts since 1987. This comes after the Larry Nassar incident and highlights the extent of child sexual abuse.
    6. Ranveer Singh’s Voyeuristic encounter
      In March, 2018, the well-known Indian Actor Ranveer Kapoor has revealed that he was once captured on camera while in the changing room. Fortunately, the person filming left his camera light on which caught Ranveer’s attention. He immediately rushed out and snatched the camera and then deleted the video.
    7. Sangli Incident at Diagnostic centre
      Prachi Diagnostic Centre, a well-known diagnostic centre at Sangli, Maharashtra, located on Civil Hospital Road was under scrutiny in March 2018 after a woman found a phone recording her in the dressing room of the centre. An employee named _____ was found to be the accused and was arrested by the Police. However, the next day itself the accused was granted bail. The Police did not seem interested in asking for police custody and the diagnostic centre was not held responsible at all, as it functioning smoothly thereafter.
  2. WASHROOMS AND TOILETS

    Washrooms, toilets, bathrooms and similar places are places where the offence of Voyeurism can easily occur. And therefore, the rate of incidence at such places is very high. Let us now take a look at the cases wherein the privacy of an individual was breached within the four walls of washrooms and toilets.

    1. Florida’s home security hook cameras
      Many cameras were found in different public washrooms across the Upper Keys in Florida in May 2016. They were found at Anne’s beach, the Circle K store and Harry Harris park. These cameras were all pinhole cameras and were in the form of a clothes hook. The devices can easily be purchased online for a low price of $13 as ‘home security devices’. The investigators issued a warning to the businesses in the locality and told store owners and park managers to check for hidden cameras in the washrooms. Since, children also use these washrooms, the perpetrators can also be charged with child pornography.
    2. Egypt university voyeurism
      A camera was found in the women’s restroom in March 2018 in the Faculty of Pharmacy at Alexandria University, Egypt. Students who found the camera posted it pictures of it online saying that it violated their privacy as it had an overview of the toilet seat as well. The University dean has said that she was the only one viewing the footage and it was put in place for security reasons, given some complaints of robbery. She later retracted her words and said that the cameras were not in working condition.
    3. India’s voyeur rep in America
      A 38 year old ex-manager, George Thomas, who is an Indian national, is now accused of filming thousands of individuals by installing cameras in shower rooms, public toilets, etc and even in his own office lavatory. He has allegedly filmed more than 3500 people over the span of 6 years in Central London. He used to film these unsuspecting individuals and make compilations which he would use to sexually gratify himself. The voyeurism spree came to light when one of his female employees found a camera in the shower room. Thomas was identified as a suspect when the footage had him recorded while setting up the cameras. Some victims were filmed in their own bedrooms and bathrooms. He is given a 4 year jail term along with a ‘Sexual Harassment Prevention Order’ for 10 years and will remain on the sex-offenders list for life. Thomas’ notoriety is significant not just due to the number of people that were filmed but because of the planned execution of Voyeurism.
    4. Delhi’s voyeur neighbor
      A 22-year old man was convicted in April 2016 for the offence of Voyeurism when he peeped into his neighbor’s lavatory from his terrace while a woman was using it. Although the woman and the accused came to a settlement, the Metropolitan Magistrate iterated that the offence was no compoundable and does not absolve the guilt of the accused and sentenced him to 1 year imprisonment. The Magistrate said that “Voyeurism is a ridiculous form of enjoyment for men but a mental torture for women. Men who indulge in such enjoyment do not seem to realize that they are infringing on the fundamental right to privacy of the body of the woman”.
    5. Beware at Starbucks
      Anthony Dines, a 33-year old was charged with 4 counts of Voyeurism in November 2017 after a camera was seized in a Starbucks outlet in South London wherein the accused was captured installing the camera. The camera was supposedly there for about 3 to 4 weeks. He is currently remanded in custody.
    6. The voyeur clergyman
      A clergyman Rev. Martin Thrower, was convicted in August 2017 for filming men in the restrooms of a shopping centre. He was given a 4 month jail term, suspended by 24 month (to run concurrently) as well as a 60 day course of sex-offending behavior and a 30 day rehabilitation course. Similar videos and many images were found in his laptop. The Diocese of St. Edmundsbury in Ipswich has suspended him from all roles.
  3. HOSPITALS

    A hospital is one such place where a person has a great deal of expectation with regards to privacy. When a patient approaches a doctor with his ailments, he expects privacy in his dealings. Many a time patients have to strip completely or partially for proper treatment. This leaves the patient vulnerable to the whims of the doctor. Medical ethics calls for a doctor patient relationship of trust and understanding. However, voyeur-doctors around the world and in India violate this delicate relationship. This is especially dangerous as the patient is in a vulnerable condition (given his ailment/nudity) and has put his complete trust in the doctor.

    Certain incidents of voyeurism at hospitals are listed below:

    1. Voyeur Doctor
      In April 2016 Barry Barkinsky, a former emergency manager at a hospital in Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA was accused of capturing images of many of his patients while on the table performing medical procedure on them and forcibly administering enemas to at least four men. He admitted that he would click pictures of his patients on the medical table. The incident came to light when one of his patients approached the police. In his apartment, the police found many fetish-type literature and possessions. He later declared himself not guilty but after two weeks the police found that he had committed suicide in his apartment
    2. UK’s worst case of Voyeurism
      A 62-year leading hearing specialist in the UK was arrested in April 2014 for filming many of his colleagues and friends along with other people. This took place when a camera was found in the toilet at Saint Anthony’s Hospital in North Cheam. Slowly, many other cameras were discovered. The recording has the doctor setting up the camera. He filmed people in hospital lavatories, train lavatories, sinks, basins, pens etc and also at his own home. The police retrieved hundreds of hours of footage. Currently more than 1000 of his victims have not been identified and the rest are shocked with his behavior. The doctor was employed at a chain of hospitals and was a well-known personality. He was sentences to 8 years in prison.
    3. KEM’s Voyeur ward boy
      The infamous KEM hospital, Mumbai has been in the news for all the wrong reasons being the hospital in which a ward boy assaulted Aruna Shanbaug in the past. And once again it is in the news when in August 2016 a ward boy was found to have hidden a phone in the women’s dressing room to record female doctors. He was later arrested by the Police.
    4. Voyeurism in delivery room
      Many pictures of a delivery were circulated on What’s app from a Thiruvananthapuram Government Hospital in Kerela. The delivery took place in July 2014. The Kerela Government has suspended 3 doctors subsequent to a police complaint made. This was a second incident relating to the birth room where before an actress filmed her real birth for the movie Kalimannu and it garnered a lot of criticism for using a private moment for commercial use. However, the present case was non-consensual and hence serious in nature. The doctors are presently absconding and the Kerela High Court has rejected their interim bail applications.

  4. REVENGE PORN
    Jindal University Rape and Voyeurism case

    In April 2015, a female student of the university accused three male students of raping and blackmailing her since August 2013. The trio had threatened to leak objectionable pictures of her unless she complied with their demands of sex. In March 2017 the accused were convicted by the Additional District and Sessions Court wherein 2 of them received imprisonment of 20 years and one received imprisonment of 7 years. In appeal however, the High Court granted bail to the accused within months in September 2017 saying that the woman’s statement stemmed from a promiscuous attitude and a voyeuristic mind. The Court based this decision on the victim’s habit of smoking and drinking and her being sexually active. This decision was highly criticized. The Supreme Court has now stayed the High Court’s order.

    The above case reveals how the offence of Voyeurism can further lead to more heinous crimes like rape, sexual harassment, etc. Also, it displays the Court’s conservative and age-old mindset in dealing with cases of violence against women.

  5. HOTELS
    1. Dancing with the Stars incident
      Erin Andrews, a Dancing with the Starts participant was the victim of voyeurism when she was recorded in her hotel room. An ESPN sportscaster posted a nude video of her in her hotel room. She was also the victim of a stalker who sent her multiple death threats. Although the perpetrator is behind bars, the victim blaming suffered by Andrews was deeply hurtful.
    2. Airbnb Smoke detector camera
      In October 2017, a young couples found a hidden camera in the smoke detector of their Airbnb residence in Florida. The accused “Natt” who was a host on Airbnb for the last two years was arrested and charged with the offence of Voyeurism. On investigation, few more videos of couples were found in his SD card. The accused has been banned from Airbnb.
    3. Voyeur – Netflix Documentary
  6. RAPE VIDEOS
    1. UP's "local films"
      In this northern state of India, a new trend has emerged where rapists have begun filming their victims with the intention of blackmailing the victim and prevent them from filing a complaint with the police. The videos are either sold by the perpetrator or by mobile repair technicians who retrieve these videos when the perpetrator gives his phone for repairs. These videos are sold 'under the counter' for a very low price (as low as Rs 20 - Rs 200) in local shops. In these films, also known as "What's app sex videos", the face of the victim is clearly visible and many victims are minors. And even though, rape is not clear in all the videos, the violence and abuse is absolutely clear as the victims beg the assailants to stop abusing them and stop recording them. The authorities say that they are unaware about such occurrences, according to an article and investigation by Aljazeera.
    2. Facebook live terror
      In March 2017, a 15 year old was nabbed in Chicago by as many as six people who further sexually assaulted her. What is more shocking is that, the offenders streamed a video of her being assaulted live on Facebook using the latest platform on social media known as “Facebook live.” The video clearly shows the faces of the offenders as well as them assaulting the victim. The video had 40 viewers and none of them tried to report the crime. The police have arrested two accused who are ages 14 and 15 respectively and have been charged with child pornography and aggravated criminal assault (rape). The teenagers have now plead guilty to both charges in exchange for probation.

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