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HomeBehind Grindr India lies a world of sexual assualt, rape and blackmail

Behind Grindr India lies a world of sexual assualt, rape and blackmail

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Caught between the hope of love and section 377, victims of sexual abuse, extortion on Grindr rather keep mum than go to the police.

New Delhi: On a Friday evening, Rakesh (name changed) was at Kalkaji Depot, pacing up and down nervously. He wore his favourite striped blue shirt, crisp from a fresh press. He fiddled with his phone, checking for new messages. The evening was special. Rakesh was on his first date with a man he had met on Grindr, a month ago.

Like Rakesh, most closet homosexuals look for partners on dating apps. In a country like India where homosexuality is a crime and punishable under the Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, searching for a same-sex partner can be a nightmare. For the scattered LGBTQ community, constantly threatened by the law, the best bet to find like-minded people is on the internet. Dating apps open a wide array of choices. Grindr, a gay dating app has brought India’s gay community together.

But Rakesh’s date night was a far cry from what he expected. His date came a few minutes late and greeted him politely. “I was expecting that he would take me to a nice café or restaurant. But he drove me to some unknown place and out of nowhere, started demanding money. I was taken aback. He threatened to call his accomplices to bash me if I didn’t pay up immediately,” he recalled in horror.

After extorting money, his date drove him to a restaurant and ordered noodles and Coke for him. When Rakesh refused food, he was forcibly made to eat. “All the flattery began again. I was thoroughly uncomfortable and could not swallow my food. He compelled me to finish what he had ordered. I felt emotionally manipulated and physically drained,” he said.

Although the incident took place in a busy marketplace with several police check posts, Rakesh was hesitant to approach the police. “Seeking police help was the last thing on my mind. I knew for sure that they would have slapped me for doing such things in a country where homosexuality is an offence,” he said.

DCP cyber crime Anyesh Roy said that he has never come across any cases like this. “If any such case comes, of course we will file a report and start investigating. To us, he is a victim first,” Roy said.

He refused to comment on whether the complainant will be charged with Section 377 or not.

“You can’t expect me to comment on the legal aspect of these cases,” he said.

The darker side of Grindr is far from the rosy idea of the gay community finding a perfect match. Anonymity often allows imposters to con genuine users. The consequence is harrowing experiences of sexual assault, blackmail and mugging.

Anjali Gopalan, founder and executive director of NGO The Naz Foundation said that blackmailers often assume fake identities on Grindr. “There are lots of cases where doctored photographs are used to lure men,” she said.

Ali Ahmed Faraz narrated a shocking incident involving his boyfriend Prem (name changed). Prem had joined Grindr hoping to find like-minded people. He met a man whose interests matched his. Soon enough, Prem was called by that man to a petrol pump near Gol Market, Delhi, on the pretext of a date. After an hour of casual conversation, Prem decided to leave since it was getting late. The moment he got up, all the sweet talk changed to a chain of slangs and abuses.

Prem was attacked the moment he walked out.

“Two men ambushed him from behind. He was taken to a desolate park where they tied his hands and gagged him. They snatched all his money. Eventually, he was gang-raped,” said Ali.

Prem could not complain to the police. “According to law, we are not victims but culprits,” Ali adds.

However, this incident did not restrain Prem from using Grindr. In fact, Prem and Ali met on Grindr.

NGOs like Humsafar offer counselling sessions for victims of blackmail and sexual assault from the community. “We encourage people to talk to us even if they are not reporting the crime to the police. We document their stories for further help,” said Gautam Yadav, program officer at the Humsafar Trust.

Yash (name changed) was hoping to find friends, some meaningful conversation or even love when he joined Grindr. He started talking to an older man. They would talk every night before going to bed. One day Yash went over to his place. “I walked in thinking that we would just hang out. Once I got there he started touching me inappropriately. He fondled my thighs. I got very uncomfortable but didn’t say anything. Then he kissed me and I just froze,” he said.

Yash said that he tends to black out in such situations because he has been raped several times as a child.

“Then he grabbed my hand and took me to his bedroom. He took off his pants and started to open mine, but I just couldn’t take it anymore. I got up and literally ran away,” he recalls in horror.

Yash does not look for relationships on Grindr anymore. “But I do enjoy talking to people from the community once in a while. I haven’t really dated a guy in four years now,” he said.

He has long stopped trusting the police. “I never bothered with the authorities because of section 377 obviously. I feel that they’d just laugh it off. In fact, they might turn me in instead,” he said.

Grindr did not respond to repeated requests for comment at the time of publishing this article.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Also traitors, anti nationals and ugly communist who look for every chance to discredit country.
    Another set of traitors who vomit on media and call them journalists. these all called paid hitters who are ready sell even family for foreign NGO money

  2. What Humsafar trust kind of NGOs are doing …being so called Rescued NGOs . They avoid people when time comes to help them. U have to beg them to give you solution and they say it’s common.. it happens with lot of people..we will try to find of the solution. if grinder is a gutter then these kind NGOs are Manhole covers over gutter.. PL stop using that nonsense app

  3. Being a homosexual is not illegal in India. I repeat, being a homosexual is not illegal im India. Sec 377 criminalises ‘un-natural intercourse’ (which also includes same sex intercourse). Nobody can book you for loving the person of your sex. There is no law against it. For all that matters, you met a person on the internet who decided to dupe you.

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