Public Masturbation: A Victimless Crime

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Have you ever caught a man in a public place, staring at you and masturbating? Is the desire to avoid being masturbated to a constant thrum of thought? Did you say yes?

Well, every victim would, because we live in a society where people in their chaotic households try to find a quiet corner to do it, while these men very shamelessly air their desires.

If you ever discuss this topic with others you may find that you are not alone. There are many people, mostly women, who have been a sufferer of public masturbation. To avoid being masturbated to is a constant thrum of thought because being the object of someone’s public masturbation always feels being violated in some way. Not physically violated, as the victim is not being touched or injured in any corporal way, but personally violated. Being masturbated at would easily be passed off as an act of ‘victimless crime’.

In India, the cases of public masturbation can be filed under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which concerns “assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty”; Section 509 which concerns “gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman”; and/or Section 268, which handles cases of public nuisance.

But the question here is: What do these men get out of it?

According to the Schizophrenia Research Foundation (SCARF) “the thrill of pleasure at being seen, of watching people’s reactions, of inciting fear, may all be part of the turn on for the perpetrators. It could also be a part of sexual addiction or part of compulsive behaviour…” But there is also some amount of voyeurism present, and it may be the case that the psychology of a public masturbator may go further than the voyeuristic tendencies.

 A lot of public masturbators may go through paraphilia — a condition where one has fetishes towards strange objects or phenomenon. Voyeurism is just one of them. It’s not a disease as much as it is an irrepressible fetish. Everyone has a fad—some people have foot, role-play and cross-dressing fads. But with public masturbators, the difference is that their obsession harms the object of their fetish i.e. the women in public. The difference between most fetishes and public masturbation is that acting on the former is consensual, while the latter isn’t.

Public masturbation actually leaves a victim feeling the same way as other sexual crimes do: horror-struck, furious and violated. It takes up space in their minds that they could all use for something else. Meanwhile the committers of this horrendous act continue their crude acts because they can easily escape on the grounds that they didn’t touch the “violated person”.

That is why if the issue of public masturbation continues to be silently accepted, and consciously ignored, then the message we send to perpetrators is that they are doing nothing wrong whereas we all know the affect this act has on its victims. It does not just disgust them to the core but it also leaves them in a state of life long fear and shame. They would definitely be scared to be at the same place, or in a similar situation.

The issue needs to be talked about at the very moment. People need to come forward and talk and take action against this disgusting activity that is messing with people’s sanity for a long time now.

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