Published: 27th February 2018
From free Wi-Fi to WhatsApp: The curious things that trigger public masturbation in India today
Men found masturbating in public may often be charged apart from getting ruthlessly thrashed. While there is no excuse for public indecency or exposure, three experts explain a lesser-known issue
In light of a Delhi University student posting a rather scandalising video of a student masturbating in broad daylight, we asked experts whether there was a reason why some people couldn't help themselves. Psychologists and counsellors tell us that this is more of a medical issue than just people being perverts. "This is often a form of exhibitionism, which masturbation is very much a part of. This often goes beyond just masturbating and includes flashing or undressing in a public place to cause unease. It requires treatment," adds Shruti Kala, a Psychologist from Nagpur. But the triggers may just end up surprising you.
Free wi-fi and WhatsApp porn can yank their chains
Very often, something as small as a seedy WhatsApp forward or a porn clip can trigger such things. Men with these sort of sexual conditions are often anti-social, awkward and lonely and the condition is usually triggered by the release of endorphins in the brain that pushes them to act perversely in public, says child psychologist and counseller Rowena Philip. "The mental illness is now seen a lot more because of the exposure to content that could trigger these chemicals. Porn on phones, graphic images and texts on social media all work towards creating this sort of an environment where, in the end, control is difficult," explains Philip. According to several scientific studies, women are much better at controlling their sexual urges as compared to men.
As social media and cheap, almost-free internet access have become the norm, Rowena Philip worries that so public masturbation will increase manifold. She says earlier people used to do it in the confines of their home. Now with all these free and updated facilities, it is very easy for such individuals to break down in public.
Public masturbation, while illegal and punishable in many countries is not listed as a crime under the Indian Penal Code. An accused can, however, be penalised under Section 354 which deals with "assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty" or under Section 509: (A) Gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman. Section 286 of the IPC handles cases of public nuisance
Two's a crowd in a bus or train
Stress in the environment around them, like a crowded bus or train full of women, can also be a potent trigger, "Such acts could be the result of environmental and psychological factors, especially non-conducive environment to express sexual urges. It is indeed a psychological illness," says Bengaluru-based counsellor
Is it dangerous? Turns out it could be. The act, in a perverse way, is also an attempt at exercising dominance over a woman and giving in to one's wildest thoughts. "Public masturbation
How do you deal with it?
Public masturbation does not come without its share of grief for the person himself, as he may go through severe bouts of depression, trauma and a whole lot of other internal issues. But people who are subjected to it as viewers, often get a rawer deal.
Incidents of men masturbating while standing next to or ahead of a woman in public transport, making her fully aware of his intent takes a huge toll on the victim, says Kuruvilla. Psychological trauma and repeated therapy sessions are only part of what could be a long journey to recovery.
Apart from Psychotherapy, the only other likely treatment for such a condition was adopted by psychologist B F Skinner and his students called Operant Conditioning. In simple terms, this means to understand the problem one must also assess the cause and generate a solution. Bibi Kuruvilla adds that public masturbation is trivial