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There has been a surge in reports of so-called revenge porn this year, with campaigners saying the problem has been exacerbated by lockdown.[contfnewc] [contfnewc] Around 2,050 reports were made to a government-funded helpline, a 22% rise from last year.[contfnewc] [contfnewc] As cases have remained high despite coronavirus restrictions easing, those that run the service fear this is “the new normal”.[contfnewc] [contfnewc] Sharing pornography without consent is illegal in England, Scotland and Wales.[contfnewc] Recent research by domestic violence charity Refuge found that one in seven young women has received threats that intimate photos will be shared without their consent.[contfnewc] [contfnewc] [contfnewc] There have been more cases of non-consensual pornography reported to a dedicated UK helpline so far this year than in all of 2019.[contfnewc] [contfnewc] Around two-thirds of cases reported to the helpline involve women.[contfnewc] [contfnewc] Helpline manager Sophie Mortimer said the sustained rise is evidence of behaviour triggered by the lockdown, and greater awareness of the crime and support.[contfnewc] [contfnewc] The helpline is run by the charity South West Grid for Learning (SWGfL), part of the UK Safer Internet Centre.[contfnewc] [contfnewc] The charity has helped remove 22,515 images this year – 94% of those reported by victims.[contfnewc] [contfnewc] And cases surged in August.[contfnewc] [contfnewc]

‘The new normal’

[contfnewc] David Wright, director of the UK Safer Internet Centre, said: “The lockdown produced an extreme set of circumstances which are bringing a lot of problems.[contfnewc] [contfnewc] “What we are seeing here, however, suggests something more long-term has happened which could mean we will be busier than ever before. It’s worrying to think this could be the new normal.”[contfnewc] [contfnewc] Research by domestic violence charity Women’s Aid found that more than 60% of survivors living with their abuser reported that the abuse they experienced got worse during the pandemic.[contfnewc] [contfnewc] Campaign and policy manager Lucy Hadley said: “Disclosing private sexual images – or threatening to do so – is a common form of abuse, and is particularly harming young women.”[contfnewc] [contfnewc] “Image based forms of abuse – such as so-called revenge porn – must be taken just as seriously as abuse in ‘real life’,” she added.[contfnewc] [contfnewc]

A victim’s view

[contfnewc] Folami Prehaye’s former partner posted explicit pictures of her online in 2014.[contfnewc] [contfnewc] He was given a six-month suspended sentence for harassment and distributing indecent images.[contfnewc] [contfnewc] Miss Prehaye founded the website Victims of Internet Crime: Speak Out! to provide ongoing emotional support for victims of these kinds of offences.[contfnewc] [contfnewc] She said: “There is no wonder that there has been an increase of cases during lockdown as more and more people have been forced to build relationships online.[contfnewc] [contfnewc] “The problem has always been there, its just that lockdown made it more apparent, and an easier place for predatory sexual exploitation.”[contfnewc] [contfnewc] [contfnewc] [contfnewc] [contfnewc] Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-54149682[contfnewc]

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