Five hundred Australian women are living a nightmare right now. And they’re being told they only have themselves to blame.
This week 500 South Australian women had nude photos stolen and posted on a US-based website.
Most of the pictures were stolen from private social media accounts or sent to the site by spiteful ex-partners. The first site has been shut down, but can now be accessed via three different sites which link to the original database of images. In a revolting twist, the sites are now photo-shopping the faces and the bodies of these women into porn.
There are 500 women in Australia today feeling sick. They are feeling humiliated, nauseated and violated. Not just because their trust has been betrayed but also because people are still looking at their private photos and there is nothing they can do. They are feeling very vulnerable.
You can only imagine their pain:
You’re in a loving relationship. You share a sexy photo of yourself with your partner. Maybe it’s in lingerie, maybe it’s topless, maybe it’s even more revealing. Maybe it’s a photo you took together. It doesn’t matter what other people think because it’s private, it’s consensual and it’s just for the two of you.
Now imagine that your partner showed that image to one other person, perhaps to one of their mates. Imagine how embarrassed you’d be, how angry, how humiliated. Now imagine that your private photo, that intimate and vulnerable moment, was shared with millions of people. Millions of people who not only looked at that image, but who pawed over it, catalogued it and shared it.
Finally, imagine that the site on which your photo has been posted is photo-shopping your face and body into porn scenes, with genitals next to your face, as if you had just committed a sex act with a stranger.
A nightmare. A gut-twisting, world-collapsing nightmare.
So what are we telling these women? Are they being supported? Do they have people standing up, demanding that the perpetrators be punished?
No. They have been told are to blame for what has happened.
Everyone from police to TV shows to people tsking over news reports have said: Well, what did they expect?
A South Australian police spokesperson said, “it is timely to stress that uploading of images and texts are done in an instant and often without thinking about the long-term effects”. Translation: Don’t send dirty pictures, ladies, because it might tempt men to commit crimes.
When asked by one of the women to remove the images, the administrator of the site told her to “F— off you autistic whore … you cannot do anything to stop us”. Translation: We’re going to get away with this because everyone thinks you’re a slut.
These are the messages being sent to 500 women who are feeling devastated and distressed. They are being told that they are to blame – and the actual perpetrators of the crime are even mocking their victims.
Let’s be very clear. What has happened to these women is a crime. Not just a theft, but also an assault. Every single person who looks at these images is participating in a crime against 500 Australian women.
Instead of standing up for this women, these women are being told: What are YOU going to do to stop people stealing nude photos of you and putting them on a website.
These women are not the criminals here. They have done nothing illegal.
They have had a crime committed AGAINST THEM. And yet the world wants to tell them that they should have stayed covered up – because if they weren’t being sexual adults then there wouldn’t have been any pictures to steal.
If a bank is robbed, no one says ‘Well, they shouldn’t have been keeping all that money around. WHEN WILL BANKS LEARN? What’s it going to take for banks to get the message that people might be interested in stealing money?’
There are 500 victims here. Five hundred women who are feeling vulnerable, used and probably very very angry.
These women deserve our comfort and support. They do not deserve to be treated like they are worthless, stupid and wrong.
To the 500 Adelaide women: You are not to blame. What happened to you was a crime. And we stand with you.
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