Campaigner speaks out about the danger and harassment of cyberflashing
Welsh presenter and podcaster Jess Davies is continuing her campaign to make cyberflashing a crime having been on the receiving end of unsolicited genital images for nearly 10 years.
Speaking on ITV Wales News last night she described the impact of the images and how the frequency of them is relentless.
Hitting back at the idea that women and girls on social media should simply expect to receive these images, she points to the fact that in-person exposure is a crime and that online exposure is no different and should have the same legal recourse.
She said: “It’s so disappointing, you almost become used to it, it happens so often. It can have a really big impact on victims because it’s invasive and you start to wonder, why is this happening to me?”
“Only a few of weeks ago, I opened up my emails as soon as I woke up and I was greeted by these images which had been sent of unsolicited genital pictures.
“It is something so personal and can really affect how you feel about yourself.”
Because it is not illegal to send these images, it can be very difficult to deal with. On social media platforms it can be reported directly, but when receiving images by email there is no actual crime to report.
Jess goes onto point out that flashing and cyberflashing disproportionately affects women and girls and believes that it is an issue of perpetrators wielding power over their victims, an issue which should be taken up and addressed by government.
Last night I was invited onto @ITVWales News at 6 to discuss my experience of being a victim of cyber-flashing and the distress it causes victims. We should be viewing these perpetrators the same way we look at those committing public flashing. Why do they think this is okay? pic.twitter.com/8tpLCZST71
— Jess Davies (@_JessicaDavies) November 13, 2021
There is significant evidence that flashing and cyberflashing often leads to more serious contact crimes, the most recent high profile example of this being the case of Wayne Couzens who allegedly exposed himself on several occasions, and just days before abducting and murdering Sarah Everard.
In September Nation Cymru highlighted the plans to table a new law specifically tackling significant harms caused by cyberflashing could be introduced as part of an Online Safety Bill.
The UK Government is considering changes to laws to take into account online opportunities for crimes which are currently not recognised.
The draft bill which could come into law by 2023, has drawn on studies and representations by academics, the Law Commission which fed into the Home Office “Tackling violence against women and girls strategy“.
An academic article by Prof Clare McGlynn and Dr Kelly Johnson, specialists in sexual and domestic violence and online abuse, has found that increasing numbers of women and girls are being exposed to image-based sexual abuse online, and it is causing significant harm.
The term ‘cyberflashing’ describes a spectrum of practices, all of which involve the sending of unsolicited genital images via technology, and most commonly involves men sending pictures of their penises, predominantly to women, without their prior agreement or consent.
The authors found that: “Victim-survivor testimonies demonstrate that women frequently experience cyberflashing in public spaces, with recent examples taking place in supermarkets, libraries, restaurants, museums, train stations and airports, as well as on various forms of public transport.”
They also state that “for many women and girls, it’s an everyday experience when engaging with social media and other technologies in professional and personal capacities.”
Studies cited in the article found that 40% of British women have been sent a penis picture without their consent and in the 18-24 age group that figure rose to 47%.