'Sorry doesn't cut it': Woman confronts man who allegedly took a video of her without consent in public

'Sorry doesn't cut it': Woman confronts man who allegedly took a video of her without consent in public
PHOTO: Screengrab/Instagram/Shuyiching

Local actress and theatre practitioner, Shu Yi Ching took to Instagram on Sunday (Aug 20) after she caught a member of public taking photos and videos of her without consent.

She wrote in the video captions: "Posting this here. Because it is important to speak up, it is important to stand my ground, it is important for this to been seen. We need to be heard."

Speaking to AsiaOne, Ching said that she spotted a man in white t-shirt taking photos and videos of her while she was shopping at Spotlight's Plaza Singapura outlet on Aug 18 at around 3.15pm.

Although she did not notice it at first, Ching said: "When I turned the corner and into the next aisle, I caught a glimpse of him following me. And that was when he came towards me with his phone raised, camera facing directly towards the upper half of my body."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Shu Yi 舒怡 (@shuyiching)

Even though Ching found his behaviour to be suspicious, she second-guessed herself if she wanted to confront the man. 

"But my gut feeling told me that my safety was threatened, and I decided to follow him to see if I was right," she told AsiaOne.

Ching shared that as she was approaching the suspected man to confront him, "he walked quickly out of the store and turned to see if I was following him."

"That was when I knew for sure something was up." 

Ching told AsiaOne that before she decided to record him on video, she asked him if she could check his phone gallery to see if her suspicions were correct, "but he was frantically trying to erase evidence."

"And as I kept questioning him he finally admitted that he took a photo of me. That is when I decided to whip out my phone to capture the video, to document it for the police." she added.

In the video posted, the suspected man can be seen fleeing from Ching but she continued to tread behind him.

She shouted: "You took a video of me, without my consent. I confronted you and you admitted that you did, so I need to see you delete the video or else I will call the police. This is violation of human right."

Cornered by Ching at the carpark, the man said: "Okay wait, hold on." And proceeded to delete the videos and photos taken of her from his phone. 

Demanding an explanation from the man for taking her photo without consent, Ching asked: "Why do you think that you can take a video of me?"

Aware that Ching was recording their exchange the whole time, the man kept apologising for his mistake to which Ching replied: "Sorry doesn't cut it."

As the man tried to avoid Ching and cover his face to prevent being exposed, she continued filming and said: "You think you can take a video of me, but I can't take a video of you?"

"I am so sorry please, can you leave me alone," the man replied. And when Ching said that she was going to report him to the police, that's when the man tried to escape.

Thankfully, an off-duty officer, going by the surname Lim, happened to be at the scene when the incident occured, and stepped in to stop the man.

In the video recorded, Lim showed his police warrant card and said: "I am a police officer, please stand at the corner. Let's find out what happened first."

Lim also asked Ching to dial 999 to alert the police.

"While waiting for the police to arrive, the entire time the man was telling me to forgive him and that he has a wife and child, and that he didn't want to be in trouble with his family," said Ching.

Ching shared with AsiaOne that two police officers arrived at the scene and they took her statement on what transpired, and if she wants to pursue the case. 

As the suspected man deleted all the photos and videos, the police officers told Ching that they will be unable to make an arrest.

"But his phone has been confiscated for further investigation." she said. 

AsiaOne has reached out to the police for comment, and they have confirmed that a report of the incident has been lodged.

Recording without consent

In a follow-up video posted on the same day, the actress shared that this was not the first time that such an incident has happened to her but "unfortunately, I never confronted them"

Stating that when such incidents happened to her previously, "I've always doubted myself in whether it could be true that another person would violate my privacy, and always struggled to pluck up the courage to confront the man."

But she was convinced that this time when it happened, she wasn't going to let him off easily.

"I give you permission to share my story, because we need to do something about this. I am done living a life in fear and anxiety." she added in the video captions.

Ching told AsiaOne that when she posted the video of the incident, "I wanted to spread awareness and share my side of the story of how these incidents are happening everyday, to so many people, and that we can stand up to them."

Ching's video garnered many positive comments that supported her decision to confront the man, with many netizens calling her "brave" and "strong". Some even shared their personal stories in which they have encountered a similar incident. 

"My heart and support goes out to all of them." she said. 

However, Ching told AsiaOne:  "I've been also receiving harassment messages and crude photos because I stood up for myself." 

"I will not be bullied into thinking that it was a mistake to stand up for myself, to take my agency back. I will stand my ground and fight through it because this is exactly why people are afraid of speaking up."

Even though she is an actress and is in the public eye, but "that doesn't mean that [she] do not have the rights to privacy and all the things that other people have. We have the capacity and right to say no."

Lastly, she shared that one should always make a police report if they encounter such situations even though she agreed that "it is easier said than done".

"Even if the police can't do very much about it, please still report it to the police." she added.

Section 377BB(7) of the Penal Code 1871 states that a person can be criminalised for voyeuristic offences such as:

  • Intentionally observing someone doing an intimate or private act without their express consent, even if they know the victim does not consent to be secretly observed.
  • Using binoculars or other visual equipment to observe a victim doing an intimate or private act without their consent.
  • Intentionally recording the victim performing private acts without their consent.
  • Using visual equipment, such as a smartphone, to observe a victim's private parts, such as breasts (for females), buttocks, or genitalia, that wouldn't have otherwise been visible. This is regardless of whether or not any footage is being recorded or captured.
  • Secretly installing cameras or other visual equipment or modifying a structure or parts of it, allowing the offender to commit any of the above acts.

If found doing so, the offence of voyeurism carries an imprisonment term which may extend to two years, a fine, caning, or any combination of such punishments.

ALSO READ: 'Just don't take pictures of girls': Woman confronts man at Tanah Merah MRT station after he sniped photos of her

ashwini.balan@asiaone.com

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