One in four women believe that the number of cyberflashing incidents have increased during the pandemic, new research conducted by Bumble has revealed.

The dating app commissioned the research as part of its new campaign, which is calling on the government to introduce a new law to criminalise sending unsolicited images of genitals in England and Wales.

It revealed that, in the past year, nearly half of women (48 per cent) aged 18 to 24 received a sexual photo they did not ask for.

The statistics point to the lack of safety many women feel in online spaces.

Out of 1,793 respondents surveyed, half of the women claim to have been left feeling less trusting of others online (59 per cent), while one in four report having felt violated.

Additionally, the survey found that 95 per cent of women under the age of 44 believe that more needs to be done to stop the sending of unsolicited nude images online.

Bumble’s new campaign, #DigitalFlashingIsFlashing, is calling for lawmakers to recognise cyberflashing in a similar manner to real-life flashing in England and Wales, which would bring the law in line with Scotland, where cyberflashing has been a criminal offence for more than a decade.

By joining forces with UN Women, Bumble intends to hold cross-party Parliamentary consultations with key policymakers and leading experts to move towards legislation and preventative solutions to end cyberflashing.

Whitney Wolfe Herd, Founder and CEO of Bumble said: “Now more than ever, we spend a considerable amount of our lives online and yet we have fallen short of protecting women in online spaces.

“Cyberflashing is a relentless, everyday form of harassment that causes victims, predominantly women, to feel distressed, violated, and vulnerable on the internet as a whole. It’s shocking that in this day and age we don’t have laws that hold people to account for this.”

The founder went on to describe the features Bumble has introduced on its platform to combat cyberflashing.

“We built a Private Detector feature that captures and blurs nude images, and successfully campaigned to make unsolicited nude images illegal in Texas,” she explained.

“But this issue is bigger than just one company, and we cannot do this alone. We need Governments to take action to criminalise cyberflashing and enforce what is already a real-world law in the online world.”

Claire Barnett, Executive Director of UN Women UK added: “Cyberflashing is a pervasive issue that, like other forms of sexual harassment, disproportionately targets and impacts women and girls.

“As we build back post-pandemic, we have a unique opportunity to reconsider how we use and interact in public spaces – both online and offline. Digital spaces will only become a greater part of our daily lives, so for the sake of future generations it’s crucial that we get this right now, with preventative, education-driven solutions to online violence.”

Calls for cyberflashing to become a criminal offence in England and Wales have been ongoing for several years.

In July, the Law Commission published a report outlining the harm caused by cyber flashing and calling for it to be made illegal.

At the time, Caroline Dinenage, minister for digital and culture, said the government would consider the commission’s recommendations.

“We are putting new legal responsibilities on social media companies to protect the British public,” she said.

“But we have to be confident we can hold the individuals using these sites to threaten, abuse and spread hate, accountable too.”

Source link