Sexual Extortion and Nonconsensual Pornography

Carrying on a tradition of high quality and original research the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children has just released a report containing a chilling set of insights into the horrors that can overtake children and young people who fall prey to aggressive sexual predators or who make the mistake of trusting someone with intimate images of themselves only to find that trust is later betrayed.

Defining terms

Sexual extortion, sometimes referred to as “sextortion”, is defined as the process through which one person is blackmailed by another “to extort sexual favors, money, or other benefits” under the threat of sharing the victim’s intimate images, videos, or other sexualized media without their consent. If the victim fails to provide the requested sexual favors, additional intimate images, money, or other benefits, their images may be posted online for the purpose of causing humiliation or distress, or coercing the individual into generating additional sexually explicit material. The perpetrator may be motivated either by sexual gratification or financial gain. While frequently discussed in relation to adult victims, children are equally as vulnerable to victimization through sexual extortion.

Nonconsensual pornography, also referred to as “nonconsensual sharing of intimate images” , sometimes called “revenge pornography,” is the distribution of sexually explicit materials without consent of one or more of the individuals involved. It is considered by some to be a form of cyber-harassment, for example when a perpetrator uses the Internet to annoy, embarrass, or emotionally distress another individual. The explicit images or videos are most often shared publicly in order to embarrass or humiliate the victim, although “not all perpetrators are motivated by vengeance”.  

Overlaps

The report acknowledges that nonconsensual pornography shares some characteristics of sextortion but argues it should nevertheless be distinguished from sextortion. While sextortion is “dependent on secrecy,” nonconsensual pornography “derives its effectiveness from public damage to the victim’s reputation.”

A cornucopia of facts and case histories

One reason why  ICMEC reports are so valuable and important is because they normally include  an enormous amount of data, meticulously documented. This is no exception.

One of the first cases referenced ( on page 7) is that of Amanda Todd from Canada.  After that we learn (page 9) about the activities of 31 year Florida man Lucas Michael Chansler who over a three year period  targeted hundreds  of children. Then (page 16) there’s the Australian who befriended a 14 year old girl as a result of which she sent photos of herself naked which he then threatened to release. He went to jail for three years.

The report rounds off with an astonishing  list of examples of initiatives and best practices drawn from what looks like all four corners of the world.

It’s a must read.

About John Carr

John Carr is one of the world's leading authorities on children's and young people's use of digital technologies. He is Senior Technical Adviser to Bangkok-based global NGO ECPAT International and is Secretary of the UK's Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety. John is now or has formerly been an Adviser to the Council of Europe, the UN (ITU), the EU and UNICEF. John has advised many of the world's largest technology companies on online child safety. John's skill as a writer has also been widely recognised. http://johncarrcv.blogspot.com
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