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Youth masturbating on Singapore train in viral video autistic, family says

SINGAPORE: A secretly-recorded Facebook video which showed a young man touching his private parts while looking at a girl on an MRT train here caused immediate outrage – until the man’s aunt came forward to reveal that her nephew is autistic.

She also expressed heartbreak over the video going viral online – a sentiment shared by others who called for greater understanding of people with disabilities and their families.

In a Facebook post on Sept 16 which was shared more than 850 times before it was taken down on Friday night, the man’s aunt hit out at the person who posted the video.

“You have just hurt the heart of a mother… This society would be a… better place if we could stop judging and start caring, stop seeking to be understood and start trying to understand,” she wrote.

The aunt had quickly tried to contact her sister-in-law on learning about the video, but the latter was “too heartbroken to speak”.

She added that they, as family members, are greatly saddened and angered that the person took the video and posted it online.

Her nephew, who has to travel “long hours” to get to his workplace, has an “above-average memory”, attends a mainstream secondary school and is now working, she wrote.

When contacted, the woman declined to comment further and requested not to be identified.

Her post drew widespread sympathy and encouragement from online users with family members who have autism, as well as Member of Parliament Denise Phua, who has championed the rights of the special-needs community.

Organisations that work with people with autism and intellectual disabilities advised individuals to refrain from taking videos and posting them online should they encounter those with special needs exhibiting sexual behaviour in public.

Think twice before recording incidents, uploading them online

The key guiding principle is to help keep everyone safe and direct the special-needs person to appropriate help, such as the caregiver or authorities, Dr Lam Chee Meng, principal autism consultant at the Autism Resource Centre, said.

“It is best to report to the public transport staff, especially if you are not sure if the person has special needs,” he said.

“What is not safe and (is) inappropriate to do is to record the act and circulate it on social media. If a member of the public takes a video, it should be for the purpose of handing it to the authorities,” he said.

Members of the public can also help by redirecting others’ gaze away from the person. “Explain to the people who are observing the act that you have already called the authorities and that the individual may have special needs,” Dr Lam said.

Sally May Tan, chief executive officer of the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (Minds), said that the public should respond with empathy by refraining from posting videos and visual content online to preserve the dignity of the person and his or her family members.

A greater emphasis on public awareness and education is needed to inform others on what to do if they meet a special-needs person exhibiting sexual behaviour in public, she said.

 

 

For full article, please visit: https://www.nst.com.my/world/2018/09/413755/youth-masturbating-singapore-train-viral-video-autistic-family-says

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