Image Based Sexual Abuse has become a trend that is being abused because many people do not regard it as an offence but as a private affair between the victim and perpetrator. It is another form of sexual abuse that dehumanizes and humiliates its victims.
Image Based Sexual Abuse (IBSA) refers to the taking or sharing of nude or sexual photographs or videos of another person without their consent. Unfortunately, with the aid of technology assisted social media, image based sexual abuse has become rampant in the society.
Image Based Sexual Abuses includes a diversity of behaviours beyond that of revenge porn such as secret trading of nudes or sexual images online, non-consensual creation and/or distribution of private, sexual images as well as consensually taken images that have been hacked or stolen and shared without the victim’s consent.
Image based sexual abuse goes beyond distribution and also covers the non-consensual creation of sexual imagery: for example, photos and videos created by means of upskirting or recordings of sexual assaults or love making between partners. It also covers perpetrators threatening to share images, commonly part of a pattern of coercive behaviour in abusive relationships.
Every day in social media, we see people uploading videos of sexual assault without the victim’s consent and it appears as though rather than seeking help for the victim, people would rather bring out their smart phones, save and share, thereby exposing victims to the stigma and discrimination that comes with such acts.
There are several types of image based abuse and they include pornographic photoshoping, recording sexual assault, sextortion, revenge pornography, upskirting, etc.
Pornographic Photoshoping is very common in social media. Many celebrities, government officials etc. have had their images photo shopped into pornographic images and footages and unfortunately, social media users do not do their due diligence before sharing such footage and shaming the victims.
Vengeful partners capitalise on social media to upload and share explicit images without the consent of their former girlfriends and partners and this is commonly referred to as revenge pornography. There are many websites dedicated to porn in Nigeria and other parts of the world. Threats and blackmail to reveal intimate photos are common within abusive relationships and revenge pornography is one of the tools used to humiliate partners in such relationships. This is a form of intimate partner violence that has caused many women and even men depression etc.
Recording Sexual Assaults and ‘Sextortion’ is one of the most disturbing examples of image based sexual abuse. Recently, there was a case of a young girl who was sexually assaulted because of a TikTok Video she did and the culprits recorded it and in a twinkle of an eye, everything was all over the social media.
Sextortion on the other hand is the practice whereby perpetrators typically coerce victims into creating and sharing images, or performing sexual acts, and then threatening the victim with exposure unless they continue the activities. Other times, the perpetrator hacks into people’s social media profiles and, on finding intimate images, threatens to share them.
For instance, recently, a music icon had her sex tape released and social media went agog with sharing the videos and even though there was a public outcry, the victim was stigmatized and nothing has been done about it. Unfortunately, people are quick to share leaked sexual images and footage without considering the impact of their actions on their victims. It is important to state at this juncture that people must desist from sending nude pictures and videos to anyone. Also, victims must not protect the identities of anyone who threatens to
Upskirting is the non-consensual taking of images or videos up a woman’s skirt. Whether it is by smart phone, a hidden recording device (e.g under a stairway) or a specially adapted camera in a shoe, this is now an easy offence to perpetrate. And it is a huge phenomenon. While some perpetrators take images for their own use, these images also end up on social media pages dedicated to such images and on porn sites.
Ignorance, gender inequality which enables men to regard women as sex tools, inadequate laws on IBSA, socio-cultural misconceptions, drug/substance abuse, misuse of social media and technology, stigmatisation and victimization, public outcry without necessary action to stem the tide (all talk no action) etc. are some of the reasons why image based abuse seem to be on the increase and until something is done about it, this form of abuse may degenerate into other forms of abuse.
Many victims of image based abuse suffer extreme mental distress and depression, some attempt and commit suicide. Some victims experience mental breakdown, victims no longer live normal lives and in many cases relocate to start life all over again and this is difficult because images uploaded to social media can be accessed anywhere and remain online for a long time etc. in addition to all these, many victims of image based sexual abuse are subjected to stigma and discrimination from families, friends, worship communities and employees and if not handled properly, such victims may never get back their dignity even after several years, like they say, the internet never forgets.