Porn to Rape Threats – Online Classes a Horror for Many Teachers

If online classes are boring for students, they are absolutely crushing for teachers facing abuse & humiliation.

Published
Education
5 min read
If online classes are boring for students, they are absolutely crushing for teachers who face abuse and humiliation.
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“It was the worst day of my life,” says high school teacher Nilima* (name changed), her voice cracking as she remembers the harrowing experience.

The 35-year-old teacher at a private school in Delhi had just got the hang of conducting online classes when an unidentified user began sharing their screen on Zoom, the video-conferencing app.

As Nilima looked up from her notes, she “noticed something completely unbelievable” – a porn video playing on her screen.

It took her a couple of seconds to register what had happened. Then came the realisation that along with her, some 20-odd students present in the online class had seen the the video as well.

Porn to Rape Threats – Online Classes a Horror for Many Teachers
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)

Stunned, scared and helpless, Nilima didn’t know what to do next and simply “ended the online class in a hurry.” She then sat there, trying to comprehend what had just happened.

Nilima isn’t alone. From blatant abuse to threats of sexual violence, those teaching online have not only had to adapt to the new mode, but have also faced insults that crush their sense of self-respect.

The User Said, ‘I Will Rape You’

Archana* was taking an extra class of Political Science for students of the 12th grade when she received a request from a strange user, who had proclaimed himself The Mastermind.

Thinking the user to be “yet another student trying to act cool and pull yet another prank,” the private school teacher from Haryana admitted them to the online class in a hurry. After all, it was an extra class and she wanted to finish whatever was left and get back to other things.

Porn to Rape Threats – Online Classes a Horror for Many Teachers
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)

She had barely started teaching, when The Mastermind started hurling abuses at her. Apart from using the choicest of misogynist abuses and threatening to invade her home and rape her, the user also advised Archana to stop teaching. “dimag kyun kharab kar rahi hai padhake. Band karde." (why are troubling us by teaching online? Stop it at once!)

Archana quickly ended the class and didn’t return to teaching for a month. Wondering why? Not only did she have to deal with the insults, but also with the screenshots of the abuses that The Mastermind hurled at her.

Will Break Your Leg: Masked Man Tells PE Teacher

But it would be terribly wrong to assume that only female teachers have faced harassment and abuse, says Robi, a Physical Education teacher from West Bengal.

As schools moved to an online mode of teaching during the lockdown in March, core subjects like Math, English, Science had to be taught online. But with one lockdown extension after another and the growing trend of coronavirus, it became clear that schools wouldn't reopen anytime soon.

This, as Robi puts it, “meant that even PE classes had to now go online.”

Porn to Rape Threats – Online Classes a Horror for Many Teachers
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)

It was during one such online session that a masked man entered the class and started making fun of the PE teacher. “At first, I thought he was a parent, but soon he started mimicking me as I spoke in Bengali,” said Robi.

When we asked him to leave the class, he threatened to break my bones. 'teri mein taange tod dunga, yeh dole shole kisi aur ko dikha...aisi mendak jaisi shakal na dikha.’ (I will break your legs. Don’t flex your muscles in front of me...don’t roll your frog-like eyes at me.)

He did so in front of the entire class.

Abusing Teachers a Viral Trend?

Imagine the embarrassment of a teacher being abused, harassed, and threatened with rape in front of the whole class. Terrible, right? Now imagine videos of these acts being uploaded online. Absolute horror.

And nowhere is this horror more pronounced than on YouTube, where a quick search throws up a barrage up videos in which teachers are getting abused, threatened and insulted.

In one such video, an unknown user threatens to rape his female college professor. When he pauses, another used adds ‘Bhai mein bhi dalunga’. (I will also do it)

Even more shocking are some of the comments by students on many of these videos, asking hackers to to come and have fun in their classes.

Students plead a popular hacker to disrupt their respective online classes. 
Students plead a popular hacker to disrupt their respective online classes. 
(Screenshot of Comments from a YouTube Video)

But Why Are Students Doing Such Things?

Akanksha Pandey, Consultant Clinical Psychologist at Fortis Hospital, Bengaluru, feels that apart from venting out their frustration, students could also be receiving validation from their students when they indulge in such behaviour online.

Porn to Rape Threats – Online Classes a Horror for Many Teachers
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)

She says that students are not completely ignorant that what they are doing, but the validation they receive by making their peers laugh or the messages they get in private lauding their acts, could lead them to think of such behaviour as an extremely cool thing.

Violation of IT Act Can Mean Serious Trouble

But what is often considered cool, could actually make one a fool. Cyber Security expert Rakshit Tandon says that on a daily basis, he receives three to four such complaints from all across the country.

Porn to Rape Threats – Online Classes a Horror for Many Teachers
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)

He recounts a recent case in which porn was shared in an online class meant for students of the 7th grade. “This is how common it has become, he says.” However, students must remember even if they use fake ID, all their online activities can e tracked back.

The best way out, Tandon says, is to expose students to a greater degree of cyber-awareness.

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