Calls for Tougher Penalties as Hundreds of Taiwanese Reveal Revenge Porn Stories

Calls for Tougher Penalties as Hundreds of Taiwanese Reveal Revenge Porn Stories
Photo Credit: AP/達志影像
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Translated and compiled by Yuan-ling Liang

Groups working to stop revenge porn in Taiwan say hundreds of cases have been revealed since they started raising awareness of the issue last year.

Kang Shu-hua, director of the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation (TWRF), explains that revenge porn is a new issue the digital generation faces. It tends to involve couples who do not break up peacefully, and subsequently one person posts their partner’s nude pictures online. The phenomenon has been gaining attention around the globe.

Kang states that, according to a TWRF survey, more than half of the cases are carried out by victims’ partners, either a former or current one.

“However, victims are usually afraid of seeking help,” says Kang. [Quote translated]

In 2014, 269 cases were reported by the press, but only 61 of victims sought care or legal support.

According to statistics from a 2015 TWRF survey, 66% of the offenders are victims’ acquaintances. Among the victims, 72% of them were aged from 21 to 35, while the youngest is only 12 years old.

“We assume that there are still many people out there who do not dare to ask for help, or even have no access to shelters,” says Kang. [Quote translated]

Victims only dare reveal the truth on anonymous platforms

Awakening News reports, at the end of March, the TWRF held a press conference regarding revenge porn online. The foundation, together with feminist websites Womany and LianHongHong, launched an online platform“Anti-Revenge Porn,” to draw attention to the issue in 2015. Victims are able to reveal their experiences on the website “Write Down Your Pain” without showing their names.

Tanya Chen, founder of Womany points out that within a year, the “Write Down Your Pain” column has collected more than 600 stories written by the victims, which reflects the prevalence of sexual violation and abuse in Taiwan. Most of the victims do not dare to tell others what they have been through. They reveal their stories online as a way to alleviate their emotions and pressure.

On anonymous student social forums, such as Dcard, posts revealing stories about revenge porn appear constantly. However, it appears that in these instances, only a few of the victims dare tell their families or seek help.

A girl in one of the cases, who saw the “Anti-Revenge Porn” website, writes an article “Why are you spreading my nude pics?” to reveal her own experience.

The girl says it has been two years since the incident, but she still feels gross when looking at her own body.

“I hate myself so much that I want to die desperately,” she writes. “I had an illusion that everyone at school was discussing my naked photos. I found myself blamed online for letting my ex-boyfriend take those photos of me.” [Quote translated]

She doesn’t know what to do, so she blames herself without telling anyone, even her family.

Public opinions impact victims’ willingness to seek help

Kang says that the values held by different generations may influence, and sometimes harm the victims. “Many parents tell their kids that ‘protecting yourselves is your own responsibility’ and refuse to give enough care; however, this is not accurate. Families should serve as the supporter after the incidents.”

A street survey, conducted by NCCU’s (National Chengchi University) professor Fang Nien-hsuan and her students, shows that there are still some elder males think the girls should take the responsibility.

But almost all the people surveyed were in favor of helping the victims. A student says,“130 interviewees say they are willing to support the victims rather than blaming them, so there really leaves no concerns for asking for help from others.” [Quote translated]

Tanya Chen calls for victims to seek help actively. Upon finding one’s intimate images posted online, one should quickly contact the TWRF or Womany to seek help from professionals. “Because the victim is not the one who needs to be responsible for this.” [Quote translated]

In January this year, Germany’s highest court made a judgment over a nude picture case between a broken-up couple. The judgment states that people should delete their partners’ naked images or videos after breakups. The decision would make it illegal to for someone to keep such pictures and release them to the public.

In an article posted by the TWRF, mentioning the decision, the foundation calls Taiwan’s judicial system to put more emphasis on privacy protection. It encourages the government to recognize the seriousness of spreading personal images and be more flexible in Constitutional reviews so that  online safety in Taiwan can be improved.

According to recent statistics from the UK, thousands of revenge-porn crimes have been reported since the UK decided to start punishing “revenge porn” a year ago. Thirty percent of the victims are underage, with the youngest reported case involving an 11-year-old.

The News Lens reports, among all Chinese-speaking countries, Taiwan is the only nation that has been raising awareness of this issue. Other countries, such as Hong Kong, have no such regulation and seldom discuss it.

Edited by Edward White

Sources:
“Revenge pornography victims as young as 11, investigation finds" (BBC)
Awakening News Networks
Youth Daily News