The Iceberg of Digital Predators



Laila Afifa

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  • TEMPO.CO, JakartaOnline sexual violence towards women and children is becoming even more widepsread in Indonesia. The need for the sexual violence eradication bill is increasingly urgent.

    There is a dark side to the development of digital technology that often escapes our attention. The widepsread use of the internet and the ease of uploading video content to digital platforms have triggered the spread of illegal pornography in many countries, including Indonesia. Victims are women who are tricked - or sometimes forced - into exhibiting their bodies or their sexual activities. This is an unintended consequence of the rapid growth of online technology.

    Matters are made worse by the lack of legal protection for victims. Reporting sexual offences often leads to new trauma for women. The entrenched patriarchal culture, which places men in a more dominant position in our social system, delays the handling of sexual offence cases, in which most victims arewomen. Most law enforcement personnel do not have sufficient knowledge to handle sexual violence cases, yet alone those that make use of digital technology.

    A report from the World Health Organization in March revealed that one third women in the world have experienced physical or sexual violence. In Indonesia, from January 1 to March 16 this year alone, according to th ministry for the empowerment of women and protection of children, there were a1,008 cases of violence against women and children, almost hald of them sexual offenses.

    Of all these instances of sexual violence, more than a fw end in the distribution and commercialization of online pornographic content. Digital technology makes it possible for illegal content to spread quickly ad widely. According to the National Commission on Violence against Women, in 2020 there were 940 reports of this, four times higher than the number for the previous year. Similar findings were reported by SAFEnet, a group that advocates for freedom of expression on the internet, which recorded 307 cases of sexual violence using technology in 2020. This was also four times higher than the figure from 2019.

    For the last three months, Tempo has been collaborating with the South China Morning Post, the Philippine Center of Investigative Journalism and the Korea Times to investigate the trail of this crime on the internet. It turns out that there are sexual predators active online in many other countries. What is concerning is that the stories of online sexual violence are strongly suspected to be only the tip of the isceberg. There are many victims not brave enough to speak out becayse of depression or concerns that they will be shamed in public.

    There are different types of sexual violence using digital technology. The continual growth of this crime is clearly triggered by the lack of state protection. To stop this, the government and the House of Representatives must speed up the passing of the Sexual Violence Eradication Law. The government also needs to work with digital technology companies to clean up the internet of illegal pronographic content. The internet must not become an open space for sexual predators hiding behind anonymous accounts.

    Read the Complete Story in Tempo English Magazine