Cyberflashing: in which countries is the sending of unsolicited sexual photos penalized?

Cyberflashing consists of sending unsolicited sexual images to another person through social networks or messaging apps. Currently, this form of harassment is becoming a serious problem in various regions of the world, where technically it is not illegal as it is not classified as a crime.

These are people who intentionally expose their genitals with the intention that someone will see them and feel alarmed or distressed. Senders are aware that they can generate a threatening and harassing experience, which in some cases ends up harassing the recipient.

The rise of this online sexual harassment has coincided with the massive use of digital technologies during the COVID-19 pandemic. More and more people, especially women and minors, receive graphic images (photo and video) not requested or desired from men through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp and Telegram.

Some countries have taken a step forward, such as Singapore United Kingdom Mexico and Argentina where cyberflashing has been classified as a crime of “sexual exposure” and has been included in the Penal Code as a sexual crime.

“Criminalizing cyber flashing as a sexual offense is in line with a variety of situations that have appeared and multiplied in the pandemic, such as sextortion, revenge porn, abuse, harassment, and cyberbullying. Among other things, the force of the law could help and force the police forces and the justice systems of the countries to identify and arrest the perpetrators”, Gabriel Zurdo, CEO of BRT Consulting and specialist in computer security, explained to TN Tecno. .

According to a study by the English firm YouGov, 53% of women between the ages of 18 and 34 admitted having received the image of a penis. For women between the ages of 35 and 54, the figure dropped to 34%.

The Asian country made it a crime last year to send unsolicited intimate images, or “cyber flashing”, as part of a major campaign against online sexual harassment.

The Singapore government approved reforms to its criminal law, which also includes other new crimes for upskirt photography and sharing or threatening to spread sexual images, the so-called “revenge porn”.

Anyone found guilty of cyber flashing could receive a prison sentence of up to two years, while taking upskirt photos or videos is punishable by up to two years in prison, five years if the images are shared online.

Courts can also impose fines and lashes for offences, common punishments in Singapore.

“There has been a prevalence of this. People intentionally send unsolicited photos of their genitals through social media or through messaging platforms. That will be criminalized. The penalties for that crime will be increased when the victim is under 14 years old,” said K. Shanmugam, Minister of the Interior and Minister of Law in Parliament.

The European country approved this year a bill that condemns cyberflashing, which consists of sending sexual images or videos without the consent of the recipient. The new regulations will include the sending of this content on social networks, dating applications or via Bluetooth or Airdrop.

With the new law, the country intends to punish individuals who practice cyberflashing with up to a maximum of two years in prison. “Whoever sends a photo or video of a person’s genitalia, for the purpose of their own sexual gratification or to cause the victim humiliation, alarm or anguish, can face up to two years in prison,” details the regulations.

Some users agree that those who commit this crime will hide behind the fact that they sent the image or video as “a joke between friends”. For this reason, they demand that the Government make the regulations “more comprehensive and direct, that it be easier to prosecute.”

A study by the British newspaper TES Magazine estimated in 2020 that 75.8% of girls between the ages of 12 and 18 had received unsolicited nude images of boys or men. Added to these data is an article by The Guardian, which claimed that a fifth of women and girls in the United Kingdom suffered this type of sexual exposure online, reports 20 Bits.

Cyberflashing is a crime contemplated in the olympia law that combats and sanctions the sexual creation and distribution without the consent of the people. Those denounced for committing this crime may spend from one to six years in prison, with fines approaching 100,000 pesos.

The “Olympia Law” does not refer to a law as such, but to a set of legislative reforms aimed at recognizing digital violence and punishing crimes that violate the sexual intimacy of people through digital means, also known as cyberviolence.

The city of New York is one of the first that tops the list to penalize this type of harassment. In this state, the bill has already been presented to pay sentence of approximately one year, and a fine of up to 1,000 dollars would be added to that “person who sends an unsolicited sexually explicit video or image to another person with the intention of harassing or annoying”.

On Argentina the crime of obscene exhibitions is penalized in article 129 of the Penal Code and carries a fine of between 1,000 and 15,000 pesos. If those affected are minors, the penalty is imprisonment from six months to four years.

On the other hand, it has been illegal in Scotland since 2010; however, there is no specific legislation against it in England and Wales.