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Nudes, Nudes, Nudes!

Nudes, Nudes, Nudes!
August 31
13:14 2018

It seems that almost everyday 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 foursources: (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 threebroad 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.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, are a bit clearer but still do not properly address modern forms of illicit surveillance (where the camera is virtually undetectable) especially in public spaces such as restrooms.

The latter source of private images (a’ la Kevin Lee) appears to attract fierce condemnation across the board but the othersources not so. Many people seem to have adopted the view that if you do not wish to have your images on social media then you should not take any such images; this to me is an excuse to re-victimize the victim. Perhaps it is our “Christian” underpinnings that cause us to re-victimize these women because such a position is akin to the argument about teenage pregnancy: if you don’t want to get pregnant don’t have unprotected sex. Whilst these arguments might be common sense arguments, they do not align with reality. The fact of the matter is that teenagers are going to engage in sex and women are going to take nude images of themselves. Whereas we have taken pro-active measures to prevent teenage pregnancy using a multi-prong approach that includes both abstinence and access to contraceptives, what have we done about the unauthorized sharing of private images? No matter what your views are about whether people should take nudes or not, we cannot ignore the emotional warfare being waged against women, or can we?

Regionally, some countries in the Caribbean are ahead of us in relation to this matter. In Trinidadand 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 mattersand 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 acaller 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 rightly so. Unfortunately, the caller’s view is consistent with that of a great many people which, of course, does not necessarily make it right.

The truth is that humans have always been pre-occupied with the naked body and for centuries we have produced images of such. Take for example the explicit sculptures in the Khajuraho Temple or the Roman frescos found at Pompeii in Italy or the phallic bird symbol, found in Dionysus Temple on Delos Island, Greece.Images/sculptures that depict the unclothed human body have been produced long before there were cameras and social media, and in some instances they pre-date our version of Christianity. In fact, there are many indigenous peoples who even today use clothing only to protect against the elements. It was the Europeans who taught us “savages” to equate nudity with sex and thereafter commanded that we cover ourselves.

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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