End Revenge Porn

In today’s ever growing social-media-obsessed society, maintaining a private life is increasingly becoming a challenge for us all. We consent to sharing a vast amount of information with strangers through the new technological mediums that are rapidly being developed.

We still however, expect to maintain certain relationships that are more intimate, private and personal. With multimedia and social media being so widely available, intimate photography, videos and “sexting” have become an integral part of relationship formation and maintenance. Unfortunately for some however, these relationships break down and this presumed confidentiality may be breached. This has led to a problem that over the past few years has become increasingly common:

Revenge porn

This is the act of sharing sexually explicit images, or videos, of a person without that person's consent.

Who is affected?

Many of us associate revenge porn mainly with celebrities: the incident on the 31st of August probably sticks in your mind. This was when there was a media explosion surrounding multiple celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence having nude images leaked through hacking of the “icloud”.

Revenge porn is not limited to public figures however. There have been over 100 cases being reported in the UK over the past 2 years; this is a great underestimate of course due to poor police force record keeping regarding revenge porn and a lack of people informing the police.

80% of those who are affected are females, but the rate of male victimisation is also increasing.

…and do you think this is only a problem that involved people in their late teens and adults?

Although the majority of cases do, unfortunately there have been cases in the UK involving children as young as 11 years old!

So how common is this?

It is estimated that there are over 30 different websites dedicated to revenge porn alone that are used in the UK. These often do not just share images of the person, but also their personal details such as their telephone number which can threaten their safety and result in harassment. 

What is being done about this?

The legal system regarding revenge porn in the past had been extremely inefficient, with large numbers of police forces not keeping records of these incidents and only 5% of cases that were reported leading to a prosecution, partly due to loop holes in the system.

Fortunately, due to increased media interest, we are beginning to see a push to deal with revenge porn as a sexual crime and a form of harassment. Recently there has been some promising news:

Revenge porn illegal under new UK law
— BBC, 2014

On the 14th November 2014, the first perpetrator for revenge porn in the UK had been jailed for 12 weeks under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. This was the result of the 21 year old man, after several police warnings, shared an explicit image of an ex-girlfriend via “WhatsApp”.

New amendments have been made to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, regarding sharing information on the internet, through text messages and by physical distribution. 

So with efforts being made to govern Revenge porn, what is the future?

Although it is promising to see progress in the legal system regarding the prosecution of perpetrators, we must not forget the victims. Coping with being the subject to this abuse is, physically and psychologically, incredibly difficult with intense feeling of shame and embarrassment.

Aiming to educate the public, especially children and teens, about the possible consequences of sharing personal explicit information is essential. “Childline”, “Cybermentors” and “thinkuknow.co.uk” are but a few examples of organisations that have made a strong push to prevent people getting into this situation in the first place.

The strength of a woman is not measured by the impact that all her hardships in life have had on her; but the strength of a woman is measured by the extent of her refusal to allow those hardships to dictate her and who she becomes.
— C. JoyBell C.

For those of you interested, I will leave some interesting websites below. UEA Sexpression will also be holding a coffee discussion session surrounding this topic next semester so feel free to come along!

Related websites