The Internet Acid Attack

The Internet Acid Attack

By KONY CHATTERJEE | | 5 January, 2013
Illustration by Rashmi Gupta | Dev Kabir Malik Design
The Internet offers a space for women to explore their sexuality, but it is also swamped with scum, writes Kony Chatterjee, who faced a horrific cyber-ordeal herself.

When I was seventeen, at an age that most of the girls around me had a "crush" on someone who they could admire from afar, I decided that it was time to be in love and, just like that, I was. He seemed perfect too – a worldly nineteen, an engineer from a prestigious institute in India. We were everything at once. We spoke of the world like it was ours to control. Most of all, we realised that hormones can only be held back for so long. But the distance that separated us ensured that most of our interaction was restricted to electronic devices. One evening, after talking about everything we possibly could manage to talk about, he asked me for a picture, clarifying that the nature of the picture would have to be of the kind where clothes weren't "allowed". I'd heard of this before. Many of my young friends had proudly claimed that they had been "sending pictures" to their boyfriends. In the heat of the moment, I felt a sudden rush. I thought about it, but I could think only of the love he claimed so profusely, and of the trust he said I must repose in him. Whenever I mentioned my doubts he would repeat that mantra, trust me, trust me. So I struck a pose that I remembered from one of those online magazines and sent it to him. He was ecstatic and soon this became something of a regular habit.

About one year and many disillusionments later, realised that we had to end this relationship for a number of reasons. But he wasn't ready to let go. Little did I know that the iron grip he had around my throat would begun to be tightened, a form of vengeance I had never expected, an expression not of his unrequited love but of his diminished ego. He worked methodically but with elaborate care, creating various fake email IDs, Twitter and Facebook accounts: he posted intimate pictures of me on these social networking sites and emailed them to my friends and family. The grief that accompanied with this betrayal arrived like a hurricane, a kind of devastating pain I had never before experienced.

Since it had been a year and I was not legally an adult, the Cyber Crime department told me that a case could be filed against me as well for sending pictures like these in the first place.

Of course there was a police complaint; there was a phone conversation with a disinterested Cyber Crime department, which informed us that they are presented with cases like this on a regular basis. Since it had been a year and I was not legally an adult, they told me that a case could be filed against me as well for sending pictures like these in the first place. I considered every alternative escape out of the situation at that point, none of which involved anything but a gruesome end. In all of this, what lay forgotten were the promises we made, the love that we shared, and the naïve whispers on park benches about how he would never let anything happen to me. The chimera had engulfed the girl and left the boy to be told off by his parents, who naturally asked pointed questions about my moral development and my family values.

In India, you don't need to look very far to find a girl who has suffered grievously because of a spurned boyfriend. A method favoured earlier, and still prevalent, of course, involved throwing acid that could burn through the skin of the girl's face. The idea, then and now, is the same: to leave that permanent marker, a reminder of the past, however innocent. Now we've moved our love and revenge to the digital era, where you can see multiple threads on the "random" (the notorious /b/ brigade) board of the insalubrious, suppressed corner of the internet – 4chan. As women in love, or even otherwise, become more liberal with their bodies and their sexuality, albeit in the supposed privacy that their phones or email accounts are supposed to offer, men have been armed with a weapon that is lethal and demeaning in more ways than one. In some cases, it isn't even a case of a relationship gone sour but just the fact that one is in possession of a steamy picture (and alas, trust) of a loved one that motivates some men to post these on the Internet. "My girlfriend last night". To think that he is probably holding her in his arms, telling her she means the world to him, while enjoying the fact that this one picture of her bending over has earned him phenomenal karma on reddit's r/gonewild.

Of course, there are also the voluntary posers on these Internet forums – women who aren't afraid to show off for the camera, just to experience the frisson that arises out of being able to strip for nobody in particular and to know that you don't have to be a supermodel to dominate the fantasies of people everywhere. However, it isn't difficult to imagine the kind of scum that frequent and flood these Internet forums, determined to exploit underage girls and unsuspecting women they have filmed or captured on their phone cameras. It's only a question of wait and watch, of relationships being built and broken, the entire drama being played out in the labyrinth of our Internet browsers.

About the author: Nineteen. Lucid Dreaming. Batman. Textile Engineering. Ends sentences. Teratoid. Reddit. Dental floss hater. You can follow her on twitter @Koquettish

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