New Media

Rape and Cyberspace

The article A Rape in Cyberspace brings up interesting points about cyberspace, privacy, and how issues should be handled. Nobody wants the government controlling the internet. However, when things happen, such as what happened in the article, people want things done. The end result was the offender being banned from the game. Unfortunately, he found a loop pole and rejoined the game under a different username. This has an effect on the victims.

The article Cyber-Rape: How Virtual Is It? shows just how realistic cyber-rape can be. The effects on the victim are as traumatizing as if it actually happened. The author, Debra Michaels, was a witness to an online gang rape. The chat itself was what drew her attention, unbelieving that it was actually a rape fantasy. Unfortunately, Debra was wrong. five men cyber-raped a women, who seemed to enjoy it. Debra was uncomfortable, after she spoke up, her inbox filled up with hate mail. Debra states “Given the number of actual rapes that are committed in our society, this online behavior obviously mimics real life”.

However, people do not often understand what happens to the victim if the rape is virtual. What are the effects on them? How do they cope? Is it something that is easily forgotten?

Debra tells us that there are reports of women being traumatized by the cyber-rape. They turn their computers off, log off, or walk away; however, the fact that a stranger wants to hurt them leaves them shaky and unsettled.

It may not be a physical act of violence, but the effects are the same. Many women become withdrawn, scared to leave the house, afraid of male friends, and often become depressed.

There are 9 types of cyber crimes; however, many people do not know this. Nor do they actually care. The article 9 Types of Cyber Crimes list them out with an explanation as well as examples. Number four on the list actually deals with cyber-rape. Unfortunately, it does not state the ways to report it, nor does it state the consequences.

Below is number four on the list:

4. DISSEMINATION OF OFFENSIVE MATERIALS

Content considered by some to be objectionable exists in abundance in cyberspace. This includes, among much else, sexually explicit materials, racist propaganda, and instructions for the fabrication of incendiary and explosive devices. Telecommunications systems can also be used for harassing, threatening or intrusive communications, from the traditional obscene telephone call to its contemporary manifestation in “cyber-stalking”, in which persistent messages are sent to an unwilling recipient.

One man allegedly stole nude photographs of his former girlfriend and her new boyfriend and posted them on the Internet, along with her name, address and telephone number. The unfortunate couple, residents of Kenosha, Wisconsin, received phone calls and e-mails from strangers as far away as Denmark who said they had seen the photos on the Internet. Investigations also revealed that the suspect was maintaining records about the woman’s movements and compiling information about her family (Spice and Sink 1999).

In another case a rejected suitor posted invitations on the Internet under the name of a 28-year-old woman, the would-be object of his affections, that said that she had fantasies of rape and gang rape. He then communicated via email with men who replied to the solicitations and gave out personal information about the woman, including her address, phone number, details of her physical appearance and how to bypass her home security system. Strange men turned up at her home on six different occasions and she received many obscene phone calls. While the woman was not physically assaulted, she would not answer the phone, was afraid to leave her home, and lost her job (Miller 1999; Miller and Maharaj 1999).

One former university student in California used email to harass 5 female students in 1998. He bought information on the Internet about the women using a professor’s credit card and then sent 100 messages including death threats, graphic sexual descriptions and references to their daily activities. He apparently made the threats in response to perceived teasing about his appearance (Associated Press 1999a).

Computer networks may also be used in furtherance of extortion. The Sunday Times (London) reported in 1996 that over 40 financial institutions in Britain and the United States had been attacked electronically over the previous three years. In England, financial institutions were reported to have paid significant amounts to sophisticated computer criminals who threatened to wipe out computer systems. (The Sunday Times, June 2, 1996). The article cited four incidents between 1993 and 1995 in which a total of 42.5 million Pounds Sterling were paid by senior executives of the organisations concerned, who were convinced of the extortionists’ capacity to crash their computer systems (Denning 1999 233-4).”

Now that cyber crimes are becoming more of a problem, there are consequences. You are able to block and report that person as well as seek legal help if need be. The following are some punishments for cyber crimes from the article Computer and Internet Crime Laws:

Penalties

Because there are numerous different types of computer and internet crimes, there are also a wide range of potential penalties. Some computer crimes have minor penalties associated with them, while more serious crimes can impose significant fines and lengthy prison sentences.

  • Fines. Fines for a conviction of various computer and internet crimes range widely. A misdemeanor conviction can result in relatively minor fines of a few hundred dollars, and possibly up to a $1,000 or more, while felony convictions can have fines that exceed $100,000.
  • Jail or prison. A person convicted of certain internet or computer crimes may also face a jail or prison sentence. The most serious crimes, such as possessing child pornography, can result in a prison sentence of 20 years or more.
  • Probation. Probation sentences for computer crimes are also possible as either individual penalties or in addition to jail or fines. Probation terms can differ widely, but typically last at least one year and require the person on probation to not commit more crimes, maintain employment, report to a probation officer, and pay all court costs and fines.

Rape in cyberspace has the same effects on a woman’s mental state as physical rape. It is not as easy as turning the computer off or logging out. Sometimes, just knowing that someone you don’t even know wants to hurt you is enough.

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