Bumble, one of UK’s biggest dating apps, has started a campaign to make sending unwanted graphic images or nudes a standalone crime.
After a successful campaign in the US regarding cyber flashing, Bumble launched the campaign in the UK with support from UN Women UK. They plan on working with politicians, organisations and the public to call on the UK government to make it a criminal offence.
WHAT IS CYBERFLASHING?
According to the Law Commission’s report, Cyber flashing is defined as “the sending of images or video recordings of genitals via social platforms.” In this case the victim is not the one sending the picture but the one receiving it.
It has been seen that in most of the cases the victim has no idea who the sender is. A recent tool used for cyber flashing is “Air Drop” where the sender can anonymously send pictures to anyone within a particular radius. Law Commission report states sending pictures via such platforms is “a twofold threat as the sender is not only anonymous but also proximate”.
It is an “offence directed at a form of behaviour that, like exposure, causes real harm and is accompanied by a clearly wrongful purpose”, the Commission says.
HOW COMMON IS IT?
A majority of victims of this crime are women and girls, according to YouGov. In the UK, 41% of women and girls have received unwanted “dick pics” out of which 23% found it distressing while 17% said that they felt threatened. It has also been reported that almost half of the entire number of women who received such pics were below the age of 18 even though it is illegal to send such pictures to minors. Our reporters from Westminster World interviewed a group of people all of whom said yes to receiving unwarranted genital pictures.
UK AND CYBER FLASHING
Law Commission has advised the Government to amend the Sexual Offence Laws to include cyber flashing as a criminal offence. Even though Scotland has criminalised this almost 10 years ago, the UK has not made this a criminal offense like physical flashing.
In 2018 a cross-party group of Parliamentarians recommended the Government to introduce a sexual abuse law which criminalises cyber flashing, but it was rejected. This recent campaign by Bumble is a second attempt at this.
WHAT LONDONERS HAVE TO SAY
Jada Stone, a student, shared with our reporters that she was just 13 years old when she received a graphic image of a male genital via Facebook. “I just ignored it, never talked about it with anyone,” says Jada. Another student Sherry Wright said that when she faces such situations her immediate reaction is to block the sender, delete the picture and not think about it at all.
Jake Ross, a working professional, said that the onus of such incidents is not on the women but the men. “We all tell girls how to behave but it is time to re-educate the men,” he says.
ADVICE TO CYBER FLASHING VICTIMS
Grazia magazine has published a list of “simple steps” one can take when facing an incident of cyber flashing.
- Firstly, take a screenshot of the image with the sender’s name. It is distressing but important as it is evidence of the act.
- Text the British Transport Police phone number 61016 with the image to report the crime.