World

'Sextortion' rampant in Australia

SYDNEY: Researchers yesterday urged tougher laws to protect victims of "revenge porn" in Australia after a survey revealed abuses, including shooting and sharing intimate images without permission, on a "mass scale".

One in five Australians has fallen prey to abusive behaviour, including having intimate photographs taken without consent and then confronting threats to share them on social networks, a government-funded national study of more than 4,200 people revealed.

Academics at Monash University and RMIT University found that men and women were equally likely to be targeted, while 50 per cent of those from minority groups, like Aboriginal Australians and those with disabilities, reported some form of abuse.

About a third of those who identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual had fallen victim.

Researchers behind the survey - the most comprehensive on the subject ever in Australia - said legislation needed to be strengthened, adding "revenge porn" had emerged at such a rapid pace that laws were "struggling to catch up".

"Our survey only captured those victims who had become aware their images had been distributed, whereas some victims may never discover that their images have been taken and distributed," Monash senior criminology lecturer Asher Flynn said.

The most common type of abuse was taking intimate images without consent. Some 11 per cent of victims saw their images distributed without their consent, with some 40 per cent of those being shared across social media platforms like Snapchat and Facebook.

A vast majority of those who experienced "sextortion", or threats to share their images, said they suffered from anxiety as a result, with many fearing for their safety. - AFP

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