19:39 GMT30 September 2020
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    Revenge porn is non-consensual distribution of sexual images to punish victims for ending relationship or the threat to share them for the purpose of blackmail. Many countries have been documenting increasing instances of revenge porn, and analysts now believe that the pandemic may be leading to a rise in this online expression of violence.

    Europe is seeing a rise in revenge porn during the coronavirus pandemic, according to women’s rights activists, cited by Reuters, who argue that abusers now have more time and technological means during the lockdown to use this manipulative tool against their victims.

    “During lockdown and as the world moves online ... women and girls are exposed to higher risks. Domestic violence is on the rise and many perpetrators also use new technologies to assert their power over their victim”, said Johanna Nelles, an executive secretary of the Istanbul Convention, a treaty by the Council of Europe set to prevent the violence against women.

    This dangerous phenomenon relates not only to adults though, but also to underage girls, activists note, as children spend more time online now that schools are closed.

    “The perpetrators are at home more - and online more - looking for more victims”, according to the head of children's policies at Save the Children Spain, Carmela del Moral. She believes that it is important to develop online platforms where crimes like that could be registered, as many children often do not feel comfortable using their phones to report this kind of abuse.

    “In Spain, you can't report this type of crime via the internet. Often children and adolescents can't go themselves to the police station to report a crime - and this is even more of a problem during confinement”, the activist said.

    Revenge porn has also been on the rise in France, where it is considered to be an offence. French student Shanley Clemot Maclaren has already done tremendous work with a lawyer getting hundreds of “shame” accounts deleted as she noticed that myriads of intimate images and videos of naked girls have been circulating online since the start of the national lockdown in March.

    The Revenge Porn Helpline, a UK government-funded service providing support to victims of non-consensual pornography registered a record number of 250 new cases of revenge porn this April, despite only working through email.

    This is a doubling of cases compared with the same month last year.

    However, the pandemic has also led to an increase not only in instances of online assaults, but also physical abuse, as domestic violence has been on the rise globally during the pandemic, data suggests. According to sociologists, this is not surprising as there has always been a larger number of abuses recorded when families spend more time together, especially during holidays or Christmas season, let alone during enforced coronavirus confinement.

    Tags:
    coronavirus, COVID-19, domestic violence, domestic abuse, Revenge Porn, United Kingdom, France, Spain
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