Friday, March 25, 2016

Depriving women ownership of their bodies: Revenge Porn a Global Issue

The first CSW session I experienced discussed eliminating cyber violence against women and the challenges on revenge porn and legal action. The session was conducted by the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation (TWRF) and included 5 speakers who touched on different examples of revenge porn and the complexity of the phenomenon as a whole. For example, all speakers expressed the need to changed the name of revenge porn to non-consensual porn because such porn is not always out of spite but rather motivated by other social needs such as entertaining friends, hacking, etc. 

Carry Goldberg, a well-established lawyer in New York City, grounded the victimization of women by non-consensual porn through a story of an English professor who was filmed unknowingly performing sexual acts by her ex-boyfriend. After she decided to end the relationship, she was threatened to have the footage released unless she complied to his demands. In response to being blackmailed, she sought assistance from police officials but discovered that they were unable to do anything in response. As a result, the footage was auctioned off to a random stranger for 5.00$ and she was deprived of her privacy and body. All speakers explained that revenge porn can cause emotional and psychological harm because victims are not only abused by their offender, which most of the time is a close partner, but also by those who consume this form of pornography and the websites that make it accessible.

Another example, which focused on revenge porn in Taiwan, proved that this phenomenon to a global issue. The speakers explained that in Taiwan there are no strict criminal laws to oppose revenge porn. Because revenge porn can cause intense community backlash and foster an unfriendly cultural atmosphere, society flips the blame onto the victim instead of the perpetrators. To combat victimization of women by cyber violence, methods must incorporate strict laws to protect the victim’s privacy, promote awareness and understanding of victims and their community, as well as work closely with law-enforcement officials to bring greater consequences to the perpetrators

Furthermore, Chang Kai-Chiang, a spokesman from TWRF, stated the need for a stronger globally interconnected community. A highly collaborative NGO network could help to further collect data of shared stories from those victimized by cyber violence, urge governments to take a stronger stand on non-consensual porn, and act as a body to monitor, report, and follow-up on revenge porn cases. In order to combat cyber violence in the form of non-consensual porn, we must provide physical and emotional assistance to victims, continuously spread awareness within both the local, national, and global communities, and truly empathize with victims not strictly through a gendered lens but at human level.

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