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Is It Normal to Be Sexually Harassed on SNS?
Alvina Joanna 객원기자  |  tribune1968@cnumedia.com
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승인 2016.11.25  11:13:01
트위터 페이스북 미투데이 요즘 네이버 구글 msn

International students share their opinions on the status of women and online sexual harassment in their countries. - Ed.

▲ Arpita N. Srinidhi         ▲David La Boon         ▲ Fernando Carrasco       ▲Hawi Getachew          ▲Phoeng Sengthai  

  In the past few months, there have been various reports about male students verbally harassing female fellow students on their chat groups on SNS such as KakaoTalk in Korea. Other members of the groups who did not want to let this charade go on any longer brought these instances to light. These problems could be due to the dominant perception of women in society and also the upbringing of people. However, it is not a problem that is limited to a certain country. You can observe sexual harassment everywhere even if it is a minor instance. The Chonnam Tribune asked international students about these problems in their own countries and their personal opinion.

 Q. What do you think of the dominant perception about women and what’s the past and present status of women in your country?

Arpita N. Srinidhi (India)
  India is a greatly conventional nation. Therefore the status of women was always lower than men. And it was quite terrible in the previous century. However, now that India has become more urbanized and industrialized, it has helped improve women’s standing in society. In the past few decades, more and more women are seen in various professional careers because they have more opportunities and better education. However, women in India still have certain reservations even though the country has been developed. For example, woman will receive help only if she is from a certain class (like socio-economic) and is deemed deserving of help.

Hawi Getachew (Ethiopia)
  In Ethiopia, the perception about women has been quite similar to the situation in India. In the past women were just expected to stay at home and do chores. But now, more and more women are going into professional sectors and embarking on their own career paths. They are not bound by their family’s expectations and have been more proactive in pursuing their own lives.

David La Boon (USA)
  In the U.S., women are considered equal in all ways through the letter of the law. Yet, they are payed less for the same work. And they are also stigmatized and abused through the normalization of rape culture. The cultural phenomenon was paradigmatic before the 1950s. But it has been dying a slow and agonizing death. Even today, feminism, misogyny and equality are hot topics via the Presidential elections. Identity politics is the vitriol vomited on every social networking platform these days. However, there is another side to this social occurrence; the progressive side. This is evident in the slow march of gender equality witnessed through U.S. history, closing the gender-gap and expanding gender-based rights and so on. This side is now the paradigm.

Q. Do instances of sexual harassment happen on online platforms in your country?

Phoeng Sengthai (Cambodia)
  In Cambodia, Facebook is the most popular social networking site where most untoward instances happen. Some men who want to have physical relationships with women use Facebook as the main platform to find women. They send friend requests to targeted women. If they do not accept the friend requests, they tag the woman in one or more porn videos on her Facebook wall or try to send anonymous messages saying that they want to have physical relations with the girl to her inbox with offensive words.

Arpita N. Srinidhi (India)
  There are certainly a lot. Since India has a large urban population that uses social media, there are many similar instances because we cannot control people’s opinions. On platforms such as Facebook, even when women put up pictures that are not indecent, some people will photoshop their faces onto inappropriate and provocative pictures and publish it online. This could also be seen as an extreme case of cyber bullying which is why many Indian parents are very hesitant in allowing their children to have active virtual lives.

Q. Why do you think men are indulging in such a derogatory behavior?

Phoeng Sengthai (Cambodia)
  One of the main reasons could be that guys are constantly bombarded by provocative entertainment, which gives them unrealistic expectations. Due to which, if they are walking on the street and happen to see a woman wearing slightly revealing clothes, they have over-active imaginations that steer them to expressing themselves in an inappropriate manner.

David La Boon (USA)
  I speak of those men that participate in the behavior. Men, but not all men, seem to see their patriarchal entitlement threatened and their privileges relatively diminished. Therefore, they react as a cornered dog would. This behavior is the result of bad education, and education is not solely the prerogative of classroom instruction, but merely a complement to parental and societal guidance. This behavior is learned, but more importantly, it can be unlearned.

Fernando Carrasco (Uruguay)
  In my personal opinion, many men are quite shy and do not have enough courage to approach a woman in a normal way. This could be because of societal norms or personal insecurities. Due to this they go on various social platforms and discharge all of their frustration since they have the advantage of being anonymous. This is a very unfortunate issue and it is something that has been occurring for centuries in many forms. However, thanks to those who have taken the courage to blow the whistle, we can take action against such behavior.

A Slow but Steady Journey to Equality
Women have come a long way in the past few decades. However, there are still many instances where men try to assert their authority on women. After listening to how these issues are present all over the world, we need to pay attention to what is influencing our society and us. Despite these issues that we face all around the world, we must not give up our hope for a better society. The journey may be long but we must persevere with unwavering diligence.

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