Indo-British woman techie claims of ‘gang rape’ in Metaverse

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New Delhi, Jan 14 (IANS) An Indian-origin woman techie in the UK has claimed “gang rape” in Metaverse.

According to a report in the New York Post, Nina Patel, a psychotherapist and start-up co-founder of Kabuni, an educational website was targeted by four anonymous and supposedly male attackers, merely for appearing online with a female avatar — just 60 seconds after signing up for the first time.

“Don’t pretend you didn’t love it,” she recalled one man saying to her.

“They relentlessly harassed me and then proceeded to (what can only be described) as the sexual assault of my avatar,” the virtual victim told the Daily Mail, describing the violent encounter as “surreal” and “horrible.”

Patel noted that she was attacked while playing the virtual reality game called Horizon Worlds, operated by Meta. The assailants yelled obscenities at her and took photos of her avatar while subjecting her to the ritual humiliation, the reports said.

“Their behaviour was offensive and disturbing,” she added.

She blamed anonymity and lack of accountability in VR spaces for her ordeal.

“Some people may engage in such offensive behaviours in VR settings because they feel detached from their real-world identities and believe they can act without facing any repercussions,” said Patel, an early adopter of VR technology.

“Another issue potentially is that on some VR platforms, aggressive and violent behaviour is encouraged and rewarded.”

While virtual reality is artificial, the real-life ramifications are not, Patel argues that the aftermath can have “profound emotional and psychological impacts.”

“The intensity of experiences in the Metaverse can mirror the emotions felt in the physical world due to the immersive nature of these environments,” she said.

“This can lead to real trauma and psychological distress akin to those experienced in physical assaults.”

Patel is not the first such victim of VR space. Earlier this year, a teenage girl in Britain contacted the police after she was assaulted in the metaverse.

Law enforcement officials compared her psychological trauma to that of someone physically assaulted, due to the immersive nature of VR.

According to a Meta representative, turning on the “Personal Boundary” feature can help one prevent such attacks. The feature does not allow non-friends to come within four feet of your character.

Patel, however, could not activate hers in time because she “froze”, the report said.



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