One in four women reckon cyberflashing incidents – that is, intentionally sending unprompted crotch shots to others – have increased during the pandemic, according to fresh research conducted by Bumble.
The dating app commissioned the research to coincide with its new campaign, called #DigitalFlashingIsFlashing, which calls on the government to introduce legislation that criminalises sending unsolicited images of genitals in England and Wales (in Scotland, cyberflashing has been criminalised for more than a decade).
Of the 1,793 respondents surveyed, nearly half of women (48 per cent) aged 18 to 24 received a sexual photo they did not ask for in the past year, the YouGov data found. Almost two thirds of women said they're less trusting of others online (59 per cent), while one in four report having felt violated. (continued below)
Moreover, 95 per cent of women under the age of 44 say that more needs to be done to put a stop to the sharing of non-consensual sexual images – which is where the campaign comes in. If successful, cyberflashing could be treated in much the same way IRL flashing is: classed as indecent exposure, with a maximum sentence of two years' imprisonment.
"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," says Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder and CEO of Bumble, who will be working with U.N. Women to hold cross-party parliamentary consultations with policymakers and experts.
"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," she continues. "It’s shocking that in this day and age we don’t have laws that hold people to account for this.
"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."
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