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HomeSocial and PoliticalCrimeUK teen gang raped virtually, Indian psychiatrist explains risks

UK teen gang raped virtually, Indian psychiatrist explains risks

British authorities are currently delving into a deeply concerning incident. In this situation, a girl under the age of 16, while immersed in a virtual reality (VR) environment using a headset, found her virtual representation being attacked by multiple male digital characters within a game. The New York Post has brought attention to this disturbing case of alleged virtual assault.

Reflecting on the gravity of the emotional and psychological aftermath, a senior officer familiar with the case commented that the distress experienced by the victim is profound, echoing sentiments that the mental scars may surpass any potential physical injuries.

Discussing the incident from a psychological perspective, Arunima Banerjee, a Psychiatric Counsellor from Kolkata, offered her insights to TrueToLife on Sunday. She mentioned, “In the realm of digital interactions, individuals can derive pleasure even from sexting. When engaging over a call, envisioning the sentiments of the person on the opposite end can evoke feelings of affection and satisfaction. Conversely, it can also incite feelings of animosity. Considering the nature of this incident as a gangrape, the trauma is undoubtedly magnified, transcending beyond a conventional assault, despite its virtual nature.”

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She was using a VR headset in a game. The teen reportedly faced a virtual assault by several men. The incident caused her emotional distress akin to a real-world assault, even though she wasn’t physically harmed. The specific game she was playing during the alleged incident remains unknown.

“Previously, there was a game ‘Blue Whale’, at the end level of the game, the gamer needs to commit suicide as a task. No healthy person will do that but we saw so many people did that, mainly the teens. Basically the game was stimulating the thought process of that person this way that he used to blindly follow the instructions. Though we don’t know anything about this game, we can assume the game this teen was playing can be the same type of.” Mrs. Bannerjee said.

A high-ranking police official stated that the case presents unique challenges for law enforcement, especially since existing laws aren’t tailored for such virtual offences. This incident is believed to be the first of its kind investigated by the police. With authorities already overwhelmed by numerous real rape cases, there are debates over the prioritization of virtual offenses, as reported by NYP. Yet, UK Home Secretary James Cleverly has supported the investigation, emphasising the emotional harm suffered by the child.

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Cleverly articulated that the virtual realm, despite its digital nature, possesses a compelling immersive quality. He cautioned against trivializing such incidents, suggesting that individuals capable of perpetrating digital harm might harbor tendencies for real-world offenses, as conveyed in his statements to the news platform LBC.

Further emphasizing the emergent challenges posed by the metaverse, a senior police investigator highlighted an uptick in online sexual offenses and related transgressions like virtual theft. Nevertheless, the UK is yet to witness any convictions pertaining to these virtual crimes.

Responding to the alarming incident, a representative from Meta, the parent company of Facebook, underscored their commitment to user safety. They shed light on their built-in safety protocols designed to limit interactions between users and unfamiliar entities. Intriguingly, instances of virtual misconduct have previously been reported within Horizon Worlds, a VR platform offered by Meta.

Sources : Times of India, The Hindu etc.

By : Ankitaa Bal

Reporting for ‘True To Life’

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