Digital technology and sexual violence seem to elide more and more in our hyper-connected, hyper-visual world. Here in Singapore, it feels like a new case of technology-facilitated sexual violence breaks in the newspapers every week. There’s the distribution of explicit materials by intimate partners on social media. Upskirting, shower videos and other acts of voyeurism. Cyber-flashing, or the sending of explicit material to someone without their consent.

A 2017 research report by AWARE’s Sexual Assault Care Centre (SACC) revealed that nearly one in five cases involved a component of technology. Of these, one in two cases involved image-based sexual abuse (the subset of tech-facilitated sexual violence that encompasses voyeurism, cyber-flashing and non-consensual image distribution). Survivors whose personal information or intimate photos/videos are leaked without their consent often feel intense helplessness, anxiety and frustration.

Recent changes to Singapore’s Penal Code, which criminalise the aforementioned actions, reflect society’s growing recognition of this issue, and a desire to safeguard survivors’ rights in online spaces. Currently, survivors can file police reports or apply for non-publication orders, under which information can be taken down. However, these processes can be limited, time-consuming and tedious, and don’t take into account the time-sensitive nature of such crimes. And while changes in the law are welcome steps forward, more needs to be done in terms of prevention and better access to justice and support for survivors.

On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25 November 2019), join AWARE for Taking Ctrl, Finding Alt 2019, a panel event centred on technology-facilitated sexual violence and how to fight it.

First, SACC will release a new set of statistics on the technology-facilitated sexual violence cases seen by the centre in the past couple of years. Then, with a line-up of expert speakers, we’ll talk in depth about the barriers and challenges faced by survivors of this type of sexual violence. Lastly, we’ll work towards finding ways to combat image-based sexual abuse, by launching a solutions-oriented contest.

The Panel:

Monica Baey, advocate for sexual violence survivors
As a student at NUS, Monica stood up for herself after an experience of sexual voyeurism, eventually driving a major shift in attitudes towards sexual violence. Monica was honoured with AWARE’s “Woman of Courage” Award at the 2019 AWARE Ball.
Amber Hawkes, Head of Safety Policy, APAC at Facebook
Amber works with NGOs, academics and policymakers to improve Facebook policies, products, tools and resources to keep its community safe. Previously, Amber spent over a decade combatting human trafficking and online child sexual exploitation.

Benny Bong, counsellor and Society Against Family Violence president
Benny is a counsellor, lecturer and trainer. As director and principal consultant at The Family Therapist, he has a long history with working against violence in the home. He is a founding member and current president of the non-profit Society Against Family Violence. Benny received the AWARE Hero Award in 2011.

Priscilla Chia, litigator and SACC volunteer lawyer
Priscilla’s practice focuses on commercial, public interest and criminal litigation, as well as non-contentious corporate advisory. Outside of her legal practice, Priscilla is actively involved in non-profit work with AWARE and other civil society organisations.

The Contest:

AWARE is calling for collaborators to work with on possible solutions to image-based sexual abuse. At this event on 25 November, we will launch a contest for various solutions from the community. Selected project(s) will receive funding from AWARE and partners for a five-month pilot run, from May to October 2020.

The solutions should involve at least one of these three themes:

∙ Prevention (e.g. policies for companies to ensure safety at the workplace, sustainable awareness-raising about image-based sexual abuse)

∙ Better access to support for survivors of image-based sexual abuse (e.g. initiatives to minimise the distribution of personal info/images/videos)

∙ Better access to justice for survivors of image-based sexual abuse (e.g. proposed changes to the law or to policies, procedures for better protection of survivors)

Details on how to apply will be announced during the event.

Date: Monday, 25 November 2019
Time: 6:30 – 9:00pm
Venue: Lifelong Learning Institute, Hall 1-2, 11 Eunos Road 8, Singapore 408601
Tickets: $5

Digital communication platforms are here to stay, so let’s make sure they’re used for more good than harm. Be a part of a much-needed change and join our campaign for zero tolerance for sexual violence. #AimForZeroSG


Register here!