I feel helpless, says bedroom tape student

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 May, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 26 May, 1997, 12:00am

A student who was secretly videotaped while undressing in her room at a university residence is outraged the cameraman will not face criminal charges.

'I can't understand why this is not a criminal offence,' the student, in her final-year at Chinese University's Shaw College, said. She discovered the tape on top of her roommate's cupboard on March 6.

Legislators and academics called for a law to allow prosecution of such practices.

The boyfriend of the student's roommate put the camera in the room and filmed for at least five months.

The student said she was helpless because she could not afford civil action, and accused the university of acting too slowly.

'I feel troubled when I still see [the man] on campus. He can still enter anyone's dormitory as a student and can do the same thing to anyone else. It gives me a lot of psychological pressure.

'And I believe he has got other tapes because the tape I got has been edited.' The woman's roommate, also a final-year student, was not disciplined because she said she was unaware of the filming. Her boyfriend appeared before the Senate's disciplinary committee.

The pair were expelled from the residence - for copying each other's keys.

'The most the university could do is to expel him from school. But that doesn't give me any protection,' the woman said. 'There is no control over the use of the tape in the future.' She had tried the Legal Aid Department, but was told she had no case. The Privacy Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission is investigating.

'Compensation in monetary terms is not important to me. I just want to have a court record so that if they use the tape in any way in the future, I can have a record as a basis.' Hong Kong University Law Department head Professor Raymond Wacks said the case demonstrated the law needed reform.

'This case is not a criminal offence right now because there is no trespassing and no nuisance made,' he said.

'It is unacceptable that someone should suffer like this and has no remedy, at least no clear remedy, to protect her.' Legislator and anti-discrimination alliance spokesman Dr John Tse Wing-ling said it was ridiculous visual surveillance did not constitute a criminal offence.

'It is a very serious act. The person who got the tape can . . . share it with others. There must be legislation against it,' he said.

Chairman of the university's disciplinary committee, Kwok Siu-tong, said the university had taken the issue seriously.

'That's why the investigation takes so long. We'll publicise the result when we have reached a conclusion,' he said.


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