The last November, there was an incident that thousands of intimate images of Irish women had been shared and posted without consent online in Ireland. The incident is being investigated by a team from the Garda National Protective Services Bureau which specializes in rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence. Garda confirmed they were investigating allegations of the incident.
Image-based sexual abuse refers to the taking or sharing of nude or sexual photographs or videos of another person without their consent. This new type of sexual abuse has appeared in the digital era. Furthermore, the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have seen image-based sexual violence spike. Among the women who had suffered abuse, 1 in 2 of them experienced online abuse including taking, sharing, and threatening to share intimate images without their consent, according to woman’s aid report.
Unfortunately, In Ireland, there is no legislation in relation to digital sexual abuse. Therefore, it is very necessary to progress the legislation to criminalize image-based sexual abuse and other forms of online harassment and stalking. Furthermore, awareness-raising and education are needed from primary school level and up in relation to promoting healthy and identifying unhealthy relationships amongst young people. Also, fully resourced general public awareness-raising is needed to encourage increased recognition of the signs of intimate relationship abuse and to combat the fear, stigma, and shame that stops victims from seeking support.
Women who were abused answered that they suffered from low self-esteem, depression, isolation, suicide ideation, and hospitalization. Although these highly devastating impacts, there are barriers to seeking help such as fear and stigma. According to the statistics from woman’s aid, it says 32% of Young Women abused have never spoken about their experience to anyone. They said fear, embarrassment, and shame are things that are holding them back from coming forward.
Anyone who has been negatively affected by this can contact Women’s-Aid Ireland. Their 24-hour helpline is 1800 341900.