While the Internet helps millions of people build relationships and earn money, cyberspace is also a hub for crime and sexual abuses. One of them is taking creepshots, a growing trend among perverts and offenders online.
Definition of creepshots
Online dictionaries define creepshot as a picture of a girl without her permission in public. Usually, it focuses on provocative body parts, like her legs, breasts, cleavage, or butt. Then, the perpetrator will upload the picture on social media, online forums, and virtual communities. Worse, some upload these on pornographic sites to be consumed by degenerate people.
Some men who take and consume creepshots romanticize the practice. For example, one Reddit user said that images like this capture the “natural” and “raw” attractiveness and beauty of a “target” woman through “stealth” and trickery. Creepshots also involve clothed women photographed in a sexually suggestive manner. It sets the practice apart from sexually explicit offenses like revenge pornography and sending genital pictures.
A brief history of creepshots
The term began in 2009 when a Twitter user described creepshots as inappropriate pictures taken by creepy people. But through the years, creepshots earned a predominantly sexual context as more and more cases occurred.
In 2011, Anderson Cooper, a journalist at CNN, brought the public’s attention to this growing trend. He attacked the Reddit forum called “Jailbait,” a page where sexualized images of teenagers got posted. Later investigations showed that the forum members included high school teachers posting inappropriate photos of their students on the site.
This attention made many people aware of creepshots, but it also attracted more people to this practice. In 2016, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported about campaigns to suspend social media users who post creepshots and hashtags related to these images.
Creepshots get used by perverted people to stimulate themselves. But some use them to shame or denigrate people. For example, Dani Mathers faced criminal charges in 2017 for posting a naked picture of a seventy-year-old woman in a gym bathroom.
On the lighter side, creepshots also include candid yet amusing photos. Despite its negative meanings, some still use the creepshot hashtag on social media to post non-offensive images. But the said hashtag is also filled with critics and campaigners against creepshots.
The ethical issues of creepshots
The discussion on creepshots goes deeper into a person’s rights to privacy and autonomy. It also raises concerns about criminal and offensive actions done online. Creepshots have become even more relevant as new camera technology develops, like Google Glass and spy cameras. These make it much easier for abusive men to take creepshots.
Feminists say that men who participate here find creepshots as a fun activity that women appreciate and deserve. Some even point at studies saying that men bond by taking advantage of women and demonstrating their “hegemony.” They also theorize that creepshots get taken to show that men own women, making them fearful of going out in public.
Unfortunately, most women who get creepshots cannot confront or express disapproval with the offender. Those who catch men taking unsolicited pictures of them might also face physical violence and aggression. Because of this, creepshot women become unfortunate victims of objectification and perversion without them knowing.
Since creepshots are harmful and malicious, people continue to campaign against them. Fortunately, Reddit and leading social media sites actively strike down creepshots and abusive content.
The legal issues of creepshots
No explicit law and policy about creepshots have been written in most countries when this article got written. Some argue that people are not entitled to privacy expectations when they are in public. However, there are legal ways to take down creepshots. If you become a victim of this practice, consider the following steps:
- Report the creepshot to the website so they may take it down.
- Tell site administrators that the images defame, harass, and offend you.
- If the victim was below 18 years old when the photo got taken, report the image as sexual violence.
Infamous cases of creepshots
In 2021, two Egyptian women became victims of creepshot incidents. Basma Bishay, a famous blogger in the country, narrated on Instagram how she got harassed. As Basma Bishay waited for her flight baggage from Lebanon, her friend told her that a man was taking pictures of her back.
It turned out that the suspect was an airliner employee. During the investigation, authorities saw that he routinely takes creepshots, with Bishay as his latest victim. Basma Bishay thanked the police and her fans for resolving this harassment case.
Another creepshot victim was Zeinab Gharib, a famous Egyptian actress. She said on social media that a stalker followed her into a dark street while taking pictures of her. The offender, who turned out to be a veterinarian, got sued and charged for sexual harassment. Zeinab Gharib used this as an example for women to stand for their women’s rights.
The Egyptian government has recently become active in prosecuting sexual assaulters and abusers. It also passed legislation making punishments worse and the fines higher for them while maintaining the secrecy of the victims’ testimonies. This way, victims will not get shamed by the public during the proceedings.
Victimized women in this Arab country have also become vocal against men who harassed or raped them, hoping that they would get imprisoned for their crimes. Social media served as a crucial vehicle towards this change.
In the United States, creepshots are a menace that law enforcement wants to end. In Missouri, for example, the police address the rising number of creepshot cases.
The issue of creepshots is especially relevant among Native Americans who are typical victims of sex trafficking, kidnappings, and murder. Because of this, they are watchful of people who take unsolicited images of teenage girls and women.
Several malls and stores in hotspots of creepshots also place restrictions on taking pictures of other people. Although selfies are allowed there, one cannot take someone else’s photo without their permission. Their security teams will investigate incidents of creepshots and collaborate with authorities to prosecute these perverts.
American residents are encouraged to report suspicious people who take their photos in secret. They will face criminal lawsuits, especially if the victims are children.
Other forms of sexual assaults and violence against children and women
Women and children are susceptible to abuses, violence, and mistreatment. Victims suffer from mental, physical, and monetary ruin even years after the incident, scarring them throughout their lives. Creepshots are only a form of sexual abuse, while millions of women endure more severe sexual abuse.
Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic ignited domestic abuse and sexual harassment. The lockdowns forced many victims to stay at home with abusers. It worsened the mental breakdown, uncertainties, and stress brought by the outbreak.
Now that you understand the evils of creepshots, you will learn, in this section, the different forms of sexual assaults and violence.
Domestic violence takes place when someone attacks their intimate partner or spouse. Typically, this kind of violence asserts the dominance and power of the offender. These are the different forms of domestic violence:
- Economic violence includes forbidding a partner from financial independence, school attendance, or access to cash and resources.
- Psychological violence means subjecting a partner to mental harm through intense fear, intimidation, threats, isolation, and gaslighting.
- Emotional violence is the act of erasing a partner’s self-worth through verbal abuse, unrelenting criticism, and isolation from support systems like friends and loved ones.
- Physical violence includes harming and hurting a partner through property damage, punching, slapping, hitting, and whipping.
- Sexual violence means non-consensual and abusive sexual acts.
Gender-based violence is rooted in sexism against women. Several motivations cause this violence, such as cultural norms, abuse of power, and masochism. (It is worth noting, however, that men and boys can suffer from this as well.) These cases bring long-lasting psychological harm to survivors, scarring their behaviors and attitude towards life.
Femicide and honor killing
In certain countries, women might get murdered because of being women. These cases, called femicide, get perpetrated by abusive spouses and partners who first intimidate, threaten, and violate their female partners. Usually, this practice happens in societies where women have negligible resources and power.
Women are more prone to honor killing, the act of murdering a family member. This tradition involves religious sins and sexual purity where violators get treated as a disgrace to the family.
As stated earlier, sexual violence is a non-consensual sexual act. This crime may also happen to young girls, women with disabilities, drugged victims, and unconscious women. These are the examples of sexual violence:
- Sexual harassment involves sexual contact and behavior without the woman’s consent. Examples include grabbing or touching sexual body parts, catcalling, saying sexual comments, and behaving in a sexually suggestive manner.
- Rape is a non-consensual penetration. Another form of this crime is corrective rape, done among homosexuals and lesbians to “correct” their sexuality.
- Rape culture normalizes and condones rape and sexual harassment.
Human trafficking involves people getting sold and purchased through violence, fraud, and force. Millions of people become enslaved and sexually abused because of this system.
If a boy or a girl gets married before turning 18, international law considers this child marriage. This practice is rejected in most urbanized nations because child brides no longer study and usually become subjected to violence and abuse.
Digital violence spans abuses and sexual aggression towards women committed through digital devices and the Internet. These include cyberbullying, doxing, and sending sexual messages without the recipient’s consent.
The statistics of violence against women
According to the joint research of the United Nations and the World Health Organization, 30% of women globally have been physically or sexually abused. Most of these cases are domestic violence by their spouse or intimate partner.
Statistics that most of these abuses take place in Africa and South-East Asia (both around 33%), followed by the Eastern Mediterranean region (31%), Americas (25%), Europe (22%), and Western Pacific (20%).
Although this violence can get avoided, many women find themselves trapped and powerless against their abusers. It gets worsened by the lockdowns and economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The World Health Organization lists down the following as the factors that lead to domestic violence:
- Lack of education drives the offender into abusive and unhealthy sexual behavior, while the victim becomes dependent on the partner;
- Maltreatment, family violence, and abuse during their childhood;
- Personality and mental disorders;
- Irresponsible use of drugs and alcohol;
- Polygamy, adultery, and rape culture;
- Communal standards, practices, and norms where women get denigrated;
- The victims’ lack of employment and financial independence;
- Legal discrimination towards women;
- Marital issues and violence;
- Abuse of control and power;
Unfortunately, sexual abuses and domestic violence lead to unspeakable harms towards women:
- Increased risks of suicide and marital homicide;
- Injuries, pain, organ damage, hampered mobility, and bodily harm;
- Sexually transmitted diseases, forced abortions, and reproductive illnesses;
- Miscarriage and birth issues (among abused pregnant women);
- Depression, anxiety, mental disorders, trauma, and stress;
- Increased risks of alcohol, smoking, substance abuse, and unhealthy sexual attitudes;
- Emotional damage and behavioral disorders (especially among children).
Preventing sexual abuse and domestic violence
In response to the concerning statistics on women’s wellbeing, the United Nations released a framework to guide policymakers and governments. These strategies form the word “respect,” an appropriate name for its mission to curb domestic violence:
- Strengthening women’s relationship skills;
- Empowering women;
- Ensuring the delivery of services;
- Reducing poverty among women;
- Enabling healthy environments for women, such as schooling and employment;
- Preventing child and teenage abuse; and
- Transforming societal norms.
The RESPECT strategy framework recommends the following solutions:
- Psychologically supporting survivors of violence;
- Strengthening women through economic and employment programs;
- Helping partners communicate and resolve marital disputes;
- Promoting the safety of women;
- Legislating harsher punishments for sexual offenders and domestic abuses;
- Empowering organizations, charities, and programs that fight for women’s rights;
- Teaching men that violence against women is unavoidable;
- Equipping health care workers with the skills they need to help survivors of abuse;
- Conducting surveys and research on violence against women.