Combating online relationship abuse requires multipronged approach
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The Violence Against Women Act, which President Biden reauthorized last week, should lead to significant strides in combating online abuse including cyberstalking the nonconsensual distribution of sexually explicit images, but leaders should explore additional opportunities to reduce the odds that online relationship abuse occurs in the first place through preventative education, rather than just providing redress for victims, according to One Love.
“While it’s a crime to pull your pants down in the streets — a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a fine or jail time — there was nothing stopping anyone from exposing themselves in your DMs, texts, or even via AirDrop, a disturbing trend,” Bumble said.
In 2018, a representative study of its users found one in three women reported receiving unsolicited lewd photos, otherwise known as cyberflashing, with 96% not happy to receive them, per their website.
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So the dating app got to work.
In 2018, they initiated artificial intelligence technology called Private Detector to automatically blur nude images so the recipient can decide first if they want to see them, Bumble said on their website.
Then the leadership team worked in their home state of Texas to eventually pass House Bill 2789, which became law September 1, 2019, to make electronic transmission of sexually inappropriate material a Class C misdemeanor in Texas when the recipient has not consented, according to Bumble.
“Crimes conducted online are just the beginning of a dangerous cycle of abuse harassment,” said Payton Iheme, Bumble’s head of public policy for the Americas, Christian Nunes, president of the National Organization for Women.
They are now advocating every state to criminalize cyberflashing, using the Texas legislation as a model, Marie Claire reports.
And it’s working: Similar bills have been introduced in New York, Wisconsin California. In Virginia, the state General Assembly recently unanimously passed a bill that would make the sending of sexually explicit photos without consent a civil infraction is awaiting the governor for his signature, according to Marie Claire.
A majority of younger adults approximately four in ten adults in the U.S. have experienced online harassment, defined as offensive name-calling, embarrassing someone on purpose, stalking, threats that someone will hurt the recipient sexual or sustained harassment, according to Pew Research Center.
“For so many years, domestic violence was treated as something within a family or within a home, but we know that our homes are the building blocks of our communities. Problems in them should not be ignored as personal because their implications for our community our society are far-reaching,” said Katie Hood, chief executive officer of One Love Foundation.
Hood told Fox News it starts with our youth: “It’s important to have open explicit conversations with your children about the factthat it is more likely than unlikely that at some point, someone will send them, or will ask them to send, sexually explicit images online.”
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She notes people should protect against relationship abuse by knowing the 10 signs of unhealthy relationships.
These include: intensity, like when someone incessantly texts or communicates with their partner via Facetime possessiveness, such as when people watch their partners’ behaviors online to where they “micro manage their significant other’s online activity – dictating who they can be friends with, what pictures they can post, etc.”
The Biden administration launched a 2022 multinational initiative with Denmark, Australia, the United Kingdom Sweden to” … align countries, international organizations, civil society to better prioritize, understand, address the growing scourge of technology-facilitated gender-based violence,” the White House press statement said.
The more parents prepare their children that sending explicit photos could happen have an open dialogue with them, the more parents can help “… avoid the instinct to keep it secret or to feel shamed,” Hood added.
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“The world, by extension the Internet, isn’t safe for women, but it’s worse for those living at intersections of identity. As we spend more time than ever before online, we have to act to protect the most marginalized vulnerable from violence,” Iheme Nunes said.