In Canada a teenager was arrested for distributing photos and a video of a sexual assault of a 16-year old girl. In South Africa, a video that depicts the alleged rape of young girl by two boys in her school is being distributed via cellphone and through the internet. The video was recorded on a cellphones by someone who was watching. These are not isolated incidents.
In many countries the filming and distribution of images such as these is a criminal offence. It must be – those who are filming are not doing anything to prevent the violence. As ‘spectators’ they are implicated in the assault themselves. But what of those who receive and forward the images and videos, what is their role in the continuation and replication of the violence committed? How are they implicated in the violence? What does the sharing of this material mean for the victim who has to live with the knowledge that her violation and trauma, is being distributed, replicated and viewed by others? How many times have you received forwarded message that contains photographs or a video of someone being violated or humiliated? What do you do with it? Do you pass it on? Or do you stop its spread and delete it?
Many people think that it is ok to forward material like this. They argue that the damage is already done and that they are merely doing what everyone else has done already by sharing it. But every act of passing it on, and forwarding the message, is another act of violence. You have the power to stop the spread. Take a stand. Don’t forward.