Rise in image-based, tech-enabled sexual violence

SEVEN in 10 cases of technology-facilitated sexual violence seen last year involved image-based sexual abuse, including non-consensual distribution of sexual images such as revenge porn, according to the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware).

This is the highest proportion of image-based sexual abuse cases seen to date by the gender equality group’s Sexual Assault Care Centre (SACC).

Aware said in a statement yesterday that image-based sexual abuse cases were a steadily growing subset of technology-facilitated cases of sexual violence.

In 2020, 65% of the technology- facilitated sexual violence cases seen by SACC were image-based sexual abuse cases, up from 61% in 2019.

Technology-facilitated sexual violence is unwanted sexual behaviour carried out via digital platforms such as digital cameras, social media, messaging platforms and dating and ride-hailing apps.

It includes image-based sexual abuse, which involves sexual, nude or intimate photos or videos of another person.

Taking upskirt videos, hacking into a victim’s device to retrieve such images or sending a victim pornography or obscene photos are all considered instances of image-based sexual abuse, according to Aware.

Overall, Aware’s SACC saw 163 new cases of technology-facilitated sexual violence last year, down from 191 cases in 2020.

Of the 163 technology-facilitated sexual violence cases last year, the perpetrator was someone known to the victim in 134 cases.

The remaining 29 cases involved strangers or cases in which perpetrator’s identity was not disclosed to SACC.

About 40% of the victims were between 18 and 24 years old, while 32% were aged 25 to 34.

Shailey Hingorani, Aware’s Head of Research and Advocacy, said the pace at which sexual violence evolves and adapts to new technologies and platforms makes it tough for researchers and support service providers to keep up.

She added: “Who would have guessed, even a decade ago, that image-based sexual abuse would be so diversified and so ubiquitous?

“We have a long and confounding journey ahead of us, fighting this.” — The Straits Times/ANN

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technology , sexual abuse


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