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More Nudes !

More Nudes !
February 22
11:49 2019

By Major Lloyd Jones  – Ret –

Over the last weekend somebody made public what was a private recording of a man and a woman having sex. The person also released a nude image of a prominent news anchor; the release of the nude photo along with the video was designed to give the impression that the woman in the video was the said news anchor, if it was that you could not readily identify her.

The weekend would not end before another video appeared on social media, this time reportedly with a high school student engaged in sexual activities. In one weekend two lives were changed forever more.

It is unclear which of the videos awoke the Special Envoy for Women and Children from her slumber but her office issued a press statement on Sunday 17th February calling for the Belizean people to respect the privacy of others. The Statement drew a lot of criticism, the most prominent being what many people thought was the selective support given by the Office of the Special Envoy. Based on the comments that the Statement attracted it would appear that a great many people view the office of the Special Envoy as being elitist and that cannot be good.

There is clearly a pattern that has developed in relation to the release of private images on social media. You create a fake profile, join Buy and Sell and then “blast” your intended victim. Perhaps it is time to begin to hold the owners of that page responsible because Facebook offers a feature that allows for posts to be vetted before they appear on your page. If the owners of these pages with large memberships were to use such a feature it would help to prevent these kinds of breaches of privacy. If the owners refuse to use this feature, for its obviously intended purpose, then they should be held liable.

In August I wrote this piece and I thought that given the events of the last weekend it might be a good time to reproduce a portion of it.

Nudes, Nudes, Nudes!

It appears that almost every day Facebook “lights up” with the announcement that somebody’s nudes have been “leaked.” The typical response seems to be almost predictable: “send please.”

The private photos and videos that are “leaked” are almost always of women, and they come primarily from four different sources: (1) a jealous partner (almost always women) who wishes to “blast” and shame the other woman; (2) a spurned lover (almost always men) who believe that if they expose their Ex’s nude body other men might not find them attractive; (3) unscrupulous technicians (almost always men) who exploit the very trust that their customers place in them and (4) sexual perverts (almost always men) who are thrilled by voyeurism, a’ la Kevin Lee. The foregoing can be classified further into three broad categories: revenge porn, data theft and invasion of privacy.

Let’s get this straight; the unauthorized sharing of private images of women is meant to inflict pain and emotional suffering. The public reaction to nude pictures of men do not attract the same kind of scorn and ridicule, even when the male organ is microscopic as in the case of the gentleman from Belmopan. Since society punishes women more for the same behavior, the “leaking” of private images to shame and demean women should be viewed as a gender-based crime. The national response should therefore reflect this fact by assigning statutory penalties that are proportionate to the harm done, including jail time. Where the leaker is a woman should we consider it a hate crime?

Despite what is clearly an increasing social problem the Government has been slow to respond. We still do not have adequate statutes on the books to sufficiently and swiftly address the issue of electronic data privacy to prevent technicians from stealing women’s images and sharing them. Furthermore there is no statutory footing to recognize the unauthorized sharing of private images as a weapon in the ongoing emotional warfare targeting women. The laws regarding invasion of privacy, according to what I have been told, is a bit clearer but it still does not properly address modern forms of illicit surveillance (where the camera is virtually undetectable) especially in public spaces such as rest rooms.

Regionally, some countries in the Caribbean are ahead of us in relation to this matter. In Trinidad and Tobago Lendl Simmons, a cricketer was ordered by the Court to pay his ex-lover TT$150,000 (~US$22K) for leaking her private images after their affair ended. In Jamaica, Donovan Coley was found guilty of malicious communication under the Cybercrime Act 2015 for sending four nude photos and more than 200 WhatsApp messages to the current boyfriend of his former lover. In Barbados the Computer Misuse Act states that “if you send a message using a computer and you intend to cause or you are reckless as to whether you cause the recipient or any other person embarrassment or annoyance, you are guilty of an offence”. Clearly some of our Caribbean cousins are not putting up with this, so why are we?

In Belize the law remains mostly silent on these matters and where it does speak, it does so in a whisper. Some women however have boldly taken on the fight to preserve the dignity and rights of the victims of this emerging phenomenon. Recently a caller to a morning talk show featuring Lisa Shoman commented that “no decent woman would take such pictures”. He was quickly and viciously put down by Lady Shoman, and rightfully so. Unfortunately the caller’s view is consistent with that of a great many people which, of course, does not necessarily make it right.

I am sure that everybody will agree that stealing data from somebody’s phone is utterly distasteful and that secretly recording someone in private moments is equally unacceptable. The real issue here then is, in 2018 should a woman be punished by public shaming for sharing images of her naked body with someone she trusted?

In parting let me state categorically that I am not attempting to pick a fight with my holy friends nor am I endorsing the taking of nude images or worst, promoting the removal of garments (public nudity). I’m just saying that it is time we dealt with this matter once and for all.

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