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Don’t Fall Prey to Online Sexploitation

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The day I read “Porn and Nudes: Delving into Cyber Exploitation in Sri Lanka” by Ms Piyumi Fonseka, on Daily Mirror Online was the day I got the shock of a lifetime! I know revenge porn and home-brewed pornography have been around since the inception of the internet in Sri Lanka. However, I didn’t know it has grown to the extent of being a lucrative business that seeks to sexually exploit innocent women and unsuspecting young girls online until now. It was this newfound knowledge through Ms Fonseka’s article which compelled me to curate this blog post. I sincerely believe you will find the simple measures provided below, helpful for protecting yourself and your loved ones from this horrific trend.

Don’t fall Prey: Don’t Share Nude Photos

The aforementioned racketeers according to Fonseka approach young men in relationships, with requests for nude photos of their girlfriends. The target men are promised free access to entire libraries devoted to pornography featuring Sri Lankan women and girls, in exchange for their contributions. In another worst-case scenario, many older schoolboys have been found offering smartphones to young girls on the condition that they provide nude selfies and videos in exchange for the phone. They tell the girls they don’t have to reveal their faces. It’s been reported that some schoolgirls do it to earn pocket money.

It’s time that the women of this nation stopped thinking with their hearts and started thinking with their brains instead. I don’t intend to rub salt into the wound, but I don’t want to sugarcoat the situation either. If an intimate image that you shared with your boyfriend ends up being a public spectacle at some point in the relationship, you are partially responsible for the problem. Remember, if your boyfriend asks for nude selfies, it means he doesn’t have your best interests at heart. If you are a schoolgirl and a boy asks for nude selfies in exchange for a smartphone, cash, or any other material reward, he is treating you like a whore! No matter how tempting the offer might be, don’t share your nude selfies with anyone even if they promise you the sun and the moon. No amount of money or physical possessions can outvalue your character and honour!

Don’t fall Prey: Don’t Store Nude Photos

It’s a well-known fact that the majority of the technicians in this country run deleted file recovery software on computers and smartphones that are brought to them for repair. Especially if the customer is a woman. They know for a fact that most people store sensitive information such as nude selfies and delete them later. There have been incidents in which the so-called technicians had either uploaded the images they recovered to websites devoted to serving pornography, sold them to the highest bidder, or used them to blackmail the customer for money or sexual relations.

Sometimes, the victims had stored intimate images of themselves or their spouses in storage devices like pen drives, memory cards, and portable hard drives that got misplaced and fell into the wrong hands. As obvious as it is keeping such content on computers, smartphones, and portable storage devices increases your chances of falling victim to online sexploitation. Therefore, never ever store your nude photos. In the event you have stored such content, I recommend that you delete them immediately and securely. You can use a free software tool like Eraser (Windows), Permanent Eraser (iOS), or Shreddit (Android) to eliminate such files without a trace. In the event, you have insecurely deleted anything in the past just use the “Wipe Free Space” function provided in the software tool.

Warning: While these software tools are SSD-friendly use them at your own risk. I am not responsible for any damage your data or devices may suffer as a direct or indirect result of using them.

Tip: In case you are not sure how to proceed please take your device to Khalid’s Computer Solutions. They are the only technicians in Colombo I trust with my data and privacy.

Don’t fall Prey: Don’t Take Nude Photos

Maybe you don’t store intimate images in removable media. Perhaps you can trust your technician to not meddle with the data stored in your device. There’s another threat however and that is cyber criminals. One doesn’t need to be a computer wizard to hack into a computer or a smartphone nowadays. There are many tools available on the dark web for purchase today. A cybercriminal may not spend thousands of dollars on hacking tools to target you exclusively. Still, if you become the victim of a mass hacking spree or even a random attack your intimate images will fall into the wrong hands. These cybercriminals could blackmail you for unbelievably large ransoms later.

Law Enforcement can do very little or nothing to help you in this case because Sri Lanka doesn’t have the resources for tracking down cybercriminals. Even if it did the perpetrators might be in areas outside Sri Lanka’s jurisdiction. Even worse criminals always demand the ransoms to be paid in Bitcoins (300 – 600 bitcoins usually. At the time of this writing, one bitcoin is worth LKR 12,706,172.46) – Bitcoin itself is not an illegal payment method. However, criminals use it because payments made in Bitcoins are untraceable. These criminals will not stop extorting you once but they will do it again and again. Therefore not taking nude photos at all is the best defence against such threats. After all, prevention is better than cure.

Wrap Up

A Note to Victims:

If you are a victim, remember, one poor decision doesn’t have to determine how you will live the rest of your life. Of course, there will be consequences but you don’t have to permit the consequences to steer your life. You can start over by accepting help. Just drop me an email if you are willing to speak to someone and I will connect you with people capable and willing to help you navigate through the storm. In the meantime don’t hesitate to take swift action against your perpetrators. The longer you keep quiet, the chances are high that they will do it to another innocent woman. I have provided some instructions below to help you get started.

If you are above the age of 18, call the CID Cyber Crime Unit at 011 232 6979 and send specifics of the incident via email. Ask an adult to contact the National Child Protection Authority on your behalf by dialling 1929 to seek assistance from a cybercrime surveillance unit if you are under the age of 18. You may also contact Sri Lanka CERT through 112-691-692, but SLCERT may refer you to the CID or NCPA depending on the type of the complaint. Report the incident to Women in Need at 775-676-555 if you do not get the assistance, you require and/or anticipate. Please contact The Grassrooted Trust if you would like to explore your case further.

A Note to Parents:

Speaking of schoolboys enticing young girls with physical possessions in exchange for nude photos, some parents live under the delusion that “it cannot happen to our child” – remember it could happen to anyone and your child is not an exception. Hence, it’s important that you as parents create an environment where your little girl will feel safe to talk about anything and everything. Rules, regulations, and discipline are important but they cannot protect her all the time. Although I don’t agree with all the elements of conventional sexual education I do believe it plays a key role in safeguarding the future of our children. Unfortunately, we are living in a country where it’s just a daydream partially owing to the nosy monks.

That leaves us with two options. We can blame the system and leave our children to explore their sexuality on their own or educate them ourselves. If you are not comfortable doing it on your own, consider requesting another trustworthy adult. Remember, if there’s a will – there’s a way. A word to the fathers In the meantime. You need to set an example for your sons by treating the women in your life with respect. If you treat your wife like a “sex toy” one day your son will treat women as mere objects of pleasure or pieces of flesh. Actions speak louder than words!

Further Reading:

I highly recommend “Nude Culture and Tackling Sexual Violence Online” by Avanti Arseculeratne at Roar Media and “Investigating Sri Lanka’s ‘nude’ culture” by Hans Billimoria at OpenDemocracy if you are interested in further information.

If you found this content helpful, I kindly ask you to leave your feedback in the comments section below. Sharing it on social media would also be greatly appreciated. In order to promote meaningful and respectful dialogue, I request that you use your full name when commenting. Please note that any comments containing profanity, name-calling, or a disrespectful tone will be deleted. Thank you for your understanding and participation.

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