Page 1944 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 7 June 2017
Men and young adults are more likely to voluntarily share a nude or sexual image of themselves. Women are more likely than men to fear for their safety due to image-based abuse.
Abuse risk is high for those who share sexual selfies but they are not the only victims. In fact, disturbingly, one in two Australians with a disability and one in two Indigenous Australians report being the victim of image-based abuse, and image-based abuse victimisation is higher for lesbian, gay and bisexual Australians as well as young people aged between 16 and 29.
In the ACT in 2016 an investigation by the Australian Federal Police identified over 70 Australian schools whose students were involved in a child exploitation ring. Five of those schools were in the ACT. Young women were targeted by young men they knew. Their photographs, sometimes naked, were shared around to be “rated”.
This case illustrated how entrenched social attitudes that lead to young men seeing their female classmates and friends as conquests combine with modern technology to hurt these young women. This was not an incident of stalking or surveillance. In all likelihood many of the images, possibly all of the images, were originally captured and shared consensually. The trust that these young women had that the other person—their friend or their romantic partner—would not share these private intimate images with others was shattered. The case represented betrayal of their trust, an invasion of their privacy and an exploitation of their sexuality.
In combating this behaviour it is important that we do not shame or depress these young women. The fault lies with the young men who betrayed their trust. This case highlights the need for law reform in the ACT, not just to ensure that these behaviours are criminalised but even more importantly to send a strong message to the community and other young people that the ACT community does not tolerate these actions. In this respect, I note very positively the outbreak of tripartisan concern about this matter and the probability that soon there will be much better legislation on this issue.
There are two reasons why the Greens have not referred to revenge porn in our draft legislation. The first is that it brings to mind a jilted lover posting naked images of their ex on a pornography website. This is just far too narrow. We are trying to combat a wide range of behaviours to ensure that we are equipped to combat all types of technology-facilitated abuse, whether image-based or otherwise.
The second reason we have not referred to revenge porn is that the most common response from the community about the sharing of intimate photos is that the woman should not have taken a naked or intimate photo or allowed someone she trusted to. The focus then becomes that she consented to the photo, not that someone that she most likely trusted took that photo and shared it inappropriately and without consent, without permission.
This is a classic example of victim blaming which is an all-too-common response to domestic and sexual violence. Let me be clear: if a young woman takes a naked photo