Speak­ing up about her stolen pho­tos

The New Paper - - NEWS -

Her pho­tos were edited and up­loaded to a porn blog; now Gia Lim is shar­ing her ex­pe­ri­ence of deal­ing with the fall­out “If you fall silent, and you don’t talk about it, no­body will un­der­stand how you feel.”

– Miss Gia Lim (right) on be­ing a vic­tim of im­age-based sex­ual abuse

where in­ti­mate im­ages and videos are dis­trib­uted non-con­sen­su­ally to on­line fo­rums by an ex-part­ner (see re­port below).

Crim­i­nal lawyer Rajan Supra­ma­niam said that cases in­volv­ing non-con­sen­sual use of sex­ual im­ages and videos on­line have been on the rise.

He said: “This is due to the rapid growth of in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy and the pop­u­lar­ity of so­cial me­dia plat­forms.”

Find­ings from a study pub­lished by the Sex­ual As­sault Care Cen­tre (SACC) – run by Aware – last year showed that about 10 per cent of their 300 plus cases in 2016 in­volved im­age-based sex­ual abuse or ha­rass­ment.

This in­cludes tak­ing and dis­tribut­ing im­ages with­out con­sent. The cen­tre also dealt with a case of “sex­u­alised pho­to­shop­ping”, in which the client’s face was pho­to­shopped onto an­other woman’s body, caus­ing em­bar­rass­ment and dis­tress.

Among the dozen or so young women who came for­ward to share their ex­pe­ri­ences with Miss Lim is Clara (not her real name), 19.

When she was 14, a friend told her that a photo of her at the beach in a school T-shirt and shorts had been posted on a Tum­blr blog, ac­com­pa­nied by a fake erotic story about her.

The photo was taken from her Face­book page, which had been open only to friends. The Tum­blr post re­ceived more than 20,000 re­blogs.

Said Clara: “Some­one con­cocted a story about me peek­ing into the male toi­let. None of it was true. But peo­ple view­ing it do not know that it is not true, and judg­ments about me would be formed from that post.”

She made a po­lice re­port, but lit­tle could be done as Tum­blr is based in the United States.

She added: “Noth­ing could be done. And the na­ture of Tum­blr is that things just get re­blogged ev­ery­where. Thou­sands of peo­ple have al­ready seen it, and it just stays on the In­ter­net per­ma­nently.”

Lawyer Suang Wi­jaya, an as­so­ciate from Eu­gene Thu­raisingam LLP said: “Un­der Sin­ga­pore law, one gen­er­ally does not have the power to re­strict or con­trol the re­pub­li­ca­tion or use of one’s pho­tographs which have al­ready been pub­lished.

“Par­lia­ment may con­sider en­act­ing leg­is­la­tion to bet­ter pro­tect im­age rights, to in­crease the types of sit­u­a­tions in which the sub­ject of a pho­to­graph which has al­ready been pub­lished may sue for in­ap­pro­pri­ate use or re-pub­li­ca­tion of that pho­to­graph of him or her.

“How­ever, care should be taken in the draft­ing of such leg­is­la­tion, so as not to out­law so­cially ac­cept­able use or re­pub­li­ca­tion of pho­tographs.”

SACC man­ager Anisha Joseph agreed that cur­rent laws may be in­suf­fi­cient in pro­tect­ing peo­ple who are be­ing sub­jected to sex­ual abuse on­line.

“The law should ef­fec­tively safe­guard rights in on­line spa­ces as well as off­line ones. We hope au­thor­i­ties will con­sider stronger and quicker reme­dies, es­pe­cially given the time-sen­si­tive na­ture of some cy­ber sex­ual crimes.”

Ms Joseph added that vic­tims can reach out to SACC for emo­tional sup­port through coun­selling and sup­port groups, and to un­der­stand what op­tions are avail­able. These in­clude tak­ing snapshots to gather ev­i­dence, mak­ing a po­lice re­port and/or a mag­is­trate’s com­plaint, or ap­ply­ing for court or­ders un­der the Pro­tec­tion from Ha­rass­ment Act that re­quire the harasser to stop the ha­rass­ment, for in­stance by tak­ing down what has been posted on­line.

TNP un­der­stands that one way to re­move pho­tos from Tum­blr is by sub­mit­ting a copy­right claim to Tum­blr, un­der the Dig­i­tal Mil­len­nium Copy­right Act, a US copy­right law.

Miss Lim had to re­peat­edly con­tact in­di­vid­ual blog own­ers to get her pho­tos taken down.

She is glad to have started a con­ver­sa­tion on the topic.

She said: “My friend told me that when he was chat­ting with friends in the army, some­one men­tioned my video, which led to a dis­cus­sion on how they should be more re­spect­ful to their fe­male friends.

“When you have enough peo­ple speak­ing up, change can be en­acted.”

tnp@sph.com.sg angtt@sph.com.sg

TNP PHOTO: ALVIN HO

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