What are cybersex crimes? An excerpt from The Pocket Guide to the Patriarchy

Would you like to learn more about patriarchy and its impact on our lives and the society we live in? The Pocket Guide to Patriarchy by a journalist Maya Oppenheim might just be the right book for you.

Oppenheim is a women’s correspondent The Independent and the only woman correspondent for a British news agency. The book covers a wide range of topics including sex work, abortion rights, sexual violence, the criminal justice system, policing, women’s health and the far right to name a few.

Here is an excerpt from The Pocket Guide to Patriarchy – Described by actress Olivia Colman as “a vital book” – published by Trapeze on August 31, 2023.

What do spy cam porn, upskirting, deepfake porn, cyberflashing, sextortion and revenge porn have in common? For one, they are all cybersex crimes. Secondly, they are all words that have only found their way into our colloquial language in recent years.

What are cybersex crimes?

Cybersex crimes are insidious, incredibly kinky, and largely committed by complete strangers using technology that is difficult to trace. These offenses can include installing hidden cameras in dressing rooms, public restrooms, or tanning salons, taking photographs or recording video under a stranger’s skirt, or fiddling with Photoshop to manipulate images of celebrities so that they like Look pornstars in explicit sexual positions. or send unwanted sexual images to strangers.

And cybersex crimes aren’t just committed by people you wouldn’t recognize on the street; Chances are, you know the person who doesn’t like so-called revenge porn (a phrase I use for reasons I’ll explain in a moment). While most of these repulsive crimes may seem beyond the realm of possibility to many, they still occur more often than many would realize.

What is revenge porn?

Let’s start with revenge porn, as it’s probably one of the most prevalent topics on the list of cybersex crimes – which, to be clear, isn’t exhaustive but covers six key topics in this shady, sinister field. At its simplest, revenge porn is the disclosure of private sexual images or videos online or offline, without first obtaining the consent of the subject, with the aim of provoking distress. Revenge porn was first criminalized in the UK in 2015, with perpetrators facing up to two years in prison.


Instagram is cracking down on cyberflashing

However, the law was recently amended in 2021 to also penalize those who threaten to share explicit private images or videos as part of leading domestic violence charity Refuge’s Naked Threat campaign. Despite these advances, the number of people charged with revenge porn remains shockingly low. Data shows that only 4 percent of reports result in lawsuits, even as cases skyrocket. Data obtained by Refuge under freedom of information laws shows that from January 1, 2019 to July 31, 2022, 24 police forces recorded 13,860 explicit imagery offenses. However, a negligible 534 cases led to indictments. Experts in the field dismiss the term revenge porn, preferring instead the much clunkier and less memorable phrase “abusive intimate images.”

The word “revenge” implies that the victim did something that deserves nude photos of them to be released to the world.

Because the word “vengeance” implies that the victim did something that deserves nude photos of them to be released to the world. In reality, revenge is just one of the multiple reasons why perpetrators choose to disclose explicit images or footage. Not that it’s ever a fair or advisable form of retaliation. Take the BBC Panorama investigation, which uncovered online groups with thousands of members called “subreddits” where men trade, sell and buy personal photos of women. This phenomenon goes beyond Reddit and has been dubbed “collectible culture.” “The so-called ‘collecting culture’ is a growing problem,” Zara Ward, who works in a senior position at the Revenge Porn Helpline, told me. “We see these behaviors have evolved over time, with collectors aiming to evade detection so content cannot be removed and victims are left in the dark as to whether their content was shared illegally.”

What is upskirting?

It should be borne in mind that there have been numerous laws aimed at combating cybersex crimes in recent years. Upskirting, defined as secretly filming or photographing under someone’s skirt without their consent, was made a criminal offense in England and Wales in April 2019, while cyberflashing is also set to become a criminal offense in England and Wales. In addition, the government has announced that the distribution of deepfakes, explicit material manipulated to look like someone without their consent, will soon be illegal.


Gina Martin on the power of activism and how she made upskirting illegal

What is sextortion?

Sextortion is another growing problem in the UK and around the world. This involves using explicit images or footage to blackmail a person. The perpetrators are mostly organized crime groups operating from abroad, but they can also be a partner or an ex. For those who undoubtedly find intimate image abuse and sextortion disturbing, voyeurism will really unsettle you.

What is voyeurism?

For those who don’t know, in voyeurism, peepers covertly install cameras in rental and student housing or public spaces such as restrooms, pool stalls, locker rooms, and tanning salons to take explicit photographs of women without their consent. This material is then uploaded to porn websites, where experts have told me there is a growing market for such material.

This is a growing problem in South Korea, where the trend called “spy cam porn” has been circulating online and is so widespread that it’s sometimes been called an “epidemic”. This is a crime mostly committed by men. Between 2013 and 2018, South Korean police received more than 30,000 reports of covert cameras being used to record footage. Thanks to the country’s lightning-fast internet, images can be downloaded, distributed and sold quickly. Human Rights Watch, a prominent global organization, said the trend was having a “devastating” impact on victims because the images could “spread unchecked.”

What is online grooming?

Online grooming is another nasty cybersex crime that deserves attention. The Internet Watch Foundation states that girls are the victims of 92 percent of all child sexual abuse content they remove from the internet. Calling online grooming a “national crisis,” the organization warns that adult men have approached children online as young as 11, with perpetrators tricking young girls into stripping beforehand on live streaming sites child sexual abuse footage is distributed on websites. Adult offenders pretend to be fellow juveniles or fake friends, and experts warn that online contact can be far quicker than physical. Essentially, although sex offenders may be as old as the mountains, the World Wide Web offers offenders new and increasingly sophisticated ways to carry out their sick and twisted exploits.

Unfortunately, the criminal justice system around the world has often been slow to keep track of these issues, especially with the constant advancement of the Internet.

Cybersex crime statistics

  • Between 2017 and 2020, calls to the national Revenge Porn Helpline about threats to share intimate images more than tripled.

  • A report by the Revenge Porn Helpline called the “collector culture” — collecting, uploading, and swapping women’s intimate material — “an emerging trend” that is “growing faster and faster.”

  • A rugby group at Oxford Brookes University challenged players to collect as many nude photos of women at the university as possible to circulate and rank.

  • A private Bristol Facebook group, where men post lewd photos and videos of women, including content from their ex-partners, has 7,000 members in a matter of days.

  • According to a US study, women and children are the majority of victims of sextortion. Researchers say that in many sextortion cases, the perpetrators didn’t even have the photos or footage they used to control and exploit their victims.

  • Sextortion cases reported to the UK’s Revenge Porn Helpline have nearly doubled in a year, becoming the biggest problem it is addressing for the first time in 2021.

  • Data shows that more than a third of revenge porn cases are dropped by victims even though a suspect has been identified. Charities warn that a “potentially painful” criminal ordeal without guarantees of anonymity and a lack of trust in the police are partly behind it.

  • In 2014, nude photos of high-profile actors, musicians, models, and presenters were leaked to image-sharing website 4chan, following a hack linked to Apple’s iCloud service. The list consisted mostly of female stars, including Jennifer Lawrence, Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, Kate Upton, Selena Gomez, Cara Delevingne and many more.

Resources for cybersex crime survivors

  • Women’s Aid and Refuge – two leading domestic violence charities advising on partner-related cyber sex crimes.

  • Suzy Lamplugh Trust – Personal safety charity that operates the free National Stalking Helpline (0808 802 0300).

  • Revenge Porn Helpline – free service to help adults deal with intimate image abuse.

  • Internet Watch Foundation – removes child abuse images from the internet.

  • Cyber ​​Civil Rights Initiative – Leading US organization serving thousands of victims around the world.

If you have experienced sexual abuse, call the toll-free, confidential National Sexual Assault helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or access 24-7 online help online.rainn.org.

The Pocket Guide to Patriarchy by Maya Oppenheim is now available.

Gender, Gender and Relationships

Chrissy Callahan

Chrissy Callahan is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Chrissy Callahan joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: ChrissyCallahan@worldtimetodays.com.

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