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Sexting as a crime

  • December 9, 2015
  • mmassen
  • Comments Off on Sexting as a crime

 

A recent court decision now allows those who have suffered psychological harm as a result of being manipulated into sending or receiving a sexually explicit image or text to bring a claim for compensation.

This is as a result of a claim brought by a woman who, while a schoolgirl sent explicit images of herself following requests by a teacher, some 40 years her senior, at her school.

The outcome of the ruling is that essentially anyone who is involved in sexting another party needs to be sure that the other party is psychologically robust, is not vulnerable, and is consenting to the exchange of messages and images.

Nobody would, for one second, deny that in this ground-breaking case there was a clear abuse of the teacher’s power and position, with the potential impact of his actions being known to the defendant. One simply does not contact a child under ones authority and ask them to send explicit images.

A simple googling of ‘sexting’ brings up any number of sites offering advice on how to go about it, showing that this is a growing phenomenon, facilitated by apps such as Snapchat, WhatsApp etc. Is it going to be even more prominent as part of the ‘courtship dance’?

However what about sexting between two adults who have no employment connection? Is there going to be a slew of claims made by those claiming to have been traumatised by the sight of a naked body? How does one gauge the psychological fortitude of a potential lover? Nothing can kill the moment like asking for access to medical records to check for any pre-existing history of PTSD!

Moreover what constitutes manipulation? Could this lead to exploitation? A couple are chatting, the sexual tension is palpable, images are exchanged, they meet and can’t stand each other and there is regret. Could one party claim they had been “manipulated” to send images?

Also, is the belief that the other party is mentally capable of viewing an image an objective or subjective test?

There are a lot of questions and uncertainties regarding this decision, and I am sure that there are going to be a lot more cases concerning consent to this type of behaviour. It does seem the more technology advances, the more opportunity there is for this sort of thing to happen.

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