Internet's worst-kept secret: Rape porn

The cool environs of Pollachi, a beautiful town near Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, is these days rife with helpless anger and fevered emotions, as a mind-boggling sexual assault case has shattered the quintessential peace and tranquility of the place. The case has also opened the lid off the most disturbing aspect of internet: Rape porn.

The incidents also expose how small town residents (especially young women), with their easy believing ways, become facile preys to shady, smart talking men who casually skitter on the dark corners of social media platforms.  

Recently, a young woman from Pollachi filed a police complaint that she was sexually assaulted by a man- whom she had befriended on Facebook- and his acolytes. The duo had been exchanging notes on Facebook for some time, and recently the man had asked her to come and meet him in person.

The  girl faithfully went to the agreed spot, but she was quickly hurled into a car in which three other male friends of the man were also there. Despite her desperate pleas, they not only sexually assaulted her, but also filmed the depraved act on their mobile phones. The girl was dumped out of the vehicle in a secluded spot, but her agony did not end there.

These vile men blackmailed her for money; or else, they threatened, the video of her rape would be uploaded on the net.

The girl apparently paid up. But when the torture continued, she sought the help of her brother. He accosted the predators, and the exchange soon turned violent, and it was then the police arrived at the scene.

They came for a petty crime, but what they got was a sordid crime of rape and exploitation.

The girl and her brother had to tell the police what happened, and formally filed a complaint. The police managed to arrest three of the criminals (Sabarirajan, Vasanthakumar and Sathish) while the mastermind, identified as one Thirunavukkarasu, escaped.

It is here the case turned a bit complex: the group has made this a regular crime, and if police sources are to be believed, they have lured and attacked around 100 women in and around Pollachi and Coimbatore.  

Apparently, the modus operandi of the gang was to scour Facebook and lay a trap for unsuspecting college girls. Thirunavukkarasu was in charge of online ‘friendship’, while Sabarirajan was the one who fronted when it came to meeting the women in person.

When it came to physical molestation, all of them took turns, while the others heartlessly recorded the heinous act.

Thirunavukkarasu, who was on the run, eventually surrendered to the police, but before he did, he released a audio clip in which he proclaimed that no woman will give a complaint against him, and also he had support from ‘high places’.

In the meanwhile, a video of another college girl who was assaulted by the gang was released by a local Tamil magazine (it was an insensitive thing to do, considering the triggering nature of the video. But most Tamil digital platforms are insensitive). The police have seized the phones of the criminals and it is said that they were full of video clips of many such sexual assaults.

The police, who found themselves ushered into the case unexpectedly, initially had difficulty in piecing together the chain of events.

They say there are two parts to the crime: One, sexual assault and blackmail using the visuals; two, selling the said visuals to porn sites, as there is a growing demand for rape porn clips.

The police are at a loss to proceed further in the case as bulk of the women victims in the case are (understandable, given the situation in India) loath to file a complaint.

But a senior police official handling the case said he was stunned by the market demand for rape porn. Many sites host them by- this irony is cruel- blurring the rapists’ faces while focusing on the agony and pain of the victims. The louder the cry of the victims, the higher the rate for the visuals.

“It is a debauched world, I understand. But even I, a hardened cop, was not prepared for the depths that human depravity is plunging to,” says a police official handling the case.  

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