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Monica Baey: Casual voyeurism is a “national emergency that was swept under the rug” for too long

Ms Baey said she wants to disprove the belief that sexual violence related to technology is not as serious as other cases of sexual assault or violence

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Singapore—Monica Baey, the young woman who brought sexual misconduct into national discussion earlier this year, continues to be an advocate for other women who have had similar experiences.

At an event organised by the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) on Monday night, November 25, Ms Baey said that more than six months after she was thrust into the national limelight after posting on social media about the NUS student who had filmed her in the shower, victims of sexual misconduct are still coming up to her to this day.

TODAY quotes Ms Baey as calling the casual attitude towards voyeurism as a “national emergency that was swept under the rug” for too long.

She told the audience of around 150 that had gathered that she wants to disprove the belief that that sexual violence related to technology is not as serious as other cases of sexual assault or violence. It is this thinking, she said, that prevents victims of crimes committed using cellphones or other such digital devices from coming forward.

“A lot of people feel technology-facilitated sexual violence is not the same as sexual assault, which is quite shocking to me,” Channel NewsAsia (CNA) quotes her as saying. 
“I’ve come to realise it is so similar. Even though you haven’t been physically violated, it’s the same.
I feel like I’m just a normal person, just a survivor … but I think I was at the right place at the right time when my story blew up.
I hope people continue to strive to be someone who makes a small change to enable the rest of society to do so.”

On Monday night, Ms Baey related not just her experience but those of others, gathered from the more than 1,000 messages that she had received from strangers and friends since she went public with her experience.

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Since she took to Instagram in early April to post about her disappointment when the student who filmed her in the shower, Nicholas Lim, was only given a conditional warning from the police and a one-semester suspension from NUS, she has received over 1,000 messages from strangers and friends, many of whom reached out to share their own experiences.

Her actions, and the furore that followed it brought about a recognition of authorities’ inadequacies in handling such matters, as well as policy changes in how universities handle cases of sexual misconduct.

Now an advocate for victims, Ms Baey has undergone training with AWARE on how to be a  first-responder for victims of sexual assault, TODAY reports.

AWARE shared some statistics concerning sexual violence related to the use of technology at the event on Monday, which happened to be the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, saying that the number has more than doubled in the last three years.

In 2016, there were only 46 acts of sexual misconduct aided by technology reported to AWARE. By 2018, the number had increased to 124. Over half of these cases revolved around pictures or videos, such as up skirting or circulating images of naked women.

“These behaviours range from unwanted and explicit sexual messages and calls (including attempts to coerce sex or a relationship) to a specific category of image-based sexual abuse,” AWARE said.

According to AWARE head Anisha Joseph, “New factors – such as the widespread availability of recording technology, and our 24/7 channels of communication – make these actions all the more pervasive and damaging today.” -/TISG

Read related: Monica Baey, “I can’t believe it. Change has finally come”

Monica Baey, “I can’t believe it. Change has finally come”

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