Revenge Porn: A Growing Problem for British Asians?

Revenge porn is growing dramatically and laws have been created to protect victims. We take a look at its impact on British Asian society.

evenge porn problem brit-asians

“All I can say is, don’t always believe what the papers say. There are always two sides to every story."

Revenge porn today has become a growing issue globally. But what about when it impacts someone from your own community? Suddenly, its effects become a shocking reality.

Thousands of young people worldwide are sending their explicit images or ‘nudes’ to others for a multitude of reasons.

Some say it makes them feel ‘sexy,’ others do it for attention, whilst others are coerced into sending the images at the behest of an obnoxious partner.

Irrespective of the motive, there is always a risk of the images being shared for the wrong reasons.

‘Revenge Porn’ has become a household term in the 21st century.

Defined by Gov.uk as “sharing private sexual materials with intent to cause distress,” revenge porn can be described as one of the most sordid forms of modern-day vengeance.

Already a degrading and humiliating experience, revenge pornography can be especially debilitating in British Asian families, where respect and honour are granted utmost importance.

We explore how it can be a growing problem for British Asian society.

Revenge Porn and the UK

With thousands having fallen victim to revenge porn in the UK, legislation has been passed for their protection.

The law, set out in Section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015, makes it a criminal offence for a person to “disclose a private sexual photograph or film if the disclosure is made (a) without the consent of the individual who appears, and (b) with the intention of causing that individual distress.”

According to a study carried out by the BBC from April 2015 to December 2015, there were 1,160 reported incidents of revenge pornography in the UK.

Though the average age of a revenge porn victim is 25, 30% of these offences involved children under the age of 11.

Of all reported cases, a staggering 61% resulted in no action being taken against the alleged perpetrator – leading many to believe that laws are failing victims.

Nudes – Why Send Them?

revenge porn for british asians nudes artform

A vast number of young men and women have sent ‘nudes’ or other sexually explicit images to a partner, though may be reluctant to admit it.

This form of ‘amateur pornography’ is flourishing in the modern world.

When asked why, Meena*, a British Pakistani expresses her reasoning:

“I was in a long distance relationship for a long time.

“I felt the need to keep my partner satisfied somehow. Sending nudes made me feel sexy and wanted. It gave me a sense of validation.”

As far as privacy is concerned, Meena* remains calm.

“I was never worried about the pictures being revealed for two reasons: I knew he deleted them straight after I sent them and I was careful not to show my face in any nudes sent.”

Sangeeta*, a British Indian student, who sent nudes to boyfriends explained:

“When you are in a deep chat with someone you are into, it’s the way nowadays. You tap on your camera and take some nudes. You just send them a few and you get some back.

“I’ve shown my face and not had any issues. I guess you do trust the person so you do it without even thinking.”

Tanvir, a fitness-trainer, says she is not apprehensive about sending nudes of herself:

“I do like taking nudes of myself in the bathroom to check out how I look.

“I’m confident with my body and have shared them with only people I really know well. If they cross the line, I simply go to the police. I’m not afraid.”

Mahesh*, an IT specialist, says:

“To be honest, it doesn’t take long before a girl starts sending you nudes. I’ve seen it happen in minutes of chatting to someone new.

“It’s like they want to impress you by their body. But I’ve never sent any nudes just normal ones back.”

There are also a growing number of males who do send nudes to lovers.

Pankaj, a British Indian, reveals his experience:

“Once I sent a girl a full nude, she started messing, and said, shall I put it on Insta to show how good you look? For a few moments, I did think what if she does? But she didn’t.”

Contrary to popular belief, perpetrators are not always male. In September 2015, Samantha Watt was the first female to be jailed for revenge porn.

Studies have shown that men are just as likely to be made victims of revenge pornography, even more so for someone who is gay, bisexual or transgender.

25% of revenge porn victims calling ‘The Revenge Porn Helpline’ in 2015 were male. Of these, 40% were from gay men, with approximately 50% of all male cases involving ‘sextortion’ – threats to release sexual images as a form of blackmail.

Rana*, a British Pakistani doctor, is one of many British Asian males who has sent his own nudes to a partner.

“I’ve sent my nudes to a girl, mainly because she was sending me some so it was mutual.”

When asked about the fear of the nudes being leaked, he responds:

“I only really sent them to people I trust, and they were mostly non-facial shots.”

He has also received nudes before but is adamant on protecting the privacy of those who send them.

“I’ve received facial nude shots, and I’ve refrained from sharing them.”

Therefore, it’s evident that British Asians are not shy about sending or receiving nudes.

But, not everyone is happy or agrees with this new wave of explicit openness.

Daljit, an estate agent, says:

“I think it’s disgusting that young Asian women and men have to share naked photos of each other to like each other. What does it prove? If anything it makes them look desperate.”

Ameena*, a British Pakistani, also agrees and says:

“I don’t think it’s right. I mean it can ruin your life forever if naked photos of you are seen by family and relatives. Why would you even risk something like that?”

Mr Shah, who has older children, says:

“I don’t think the young Asian generation are going down a good path with all this sharing of photos of this kind. I’ve always been clear to my kids. If I ever find out they do something wrong like this, they’ll be kicked out.”

Revenge Porn – A Perpetrator’s Perspective

Revenge pornography is becoming an ever-increasing dangerous activity amongst British Asians. Especially, when things go wrong in relationships.

One such case arose in October 2017, when Jamel Ali, a British Bangladeshi, released explicit images of his ex-girlfriend to her father in order to ‘show him what kind of girl she was.’

He was jailed at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court after pleading guilty to distributing intimate images and two offences of harassment without violence.

However, a close source to Ali has exclusively revealed that the story being shared in mainstream media is not entirely true, claiming that certain details have been “fabricated.”

He says:

“All I can say is, don’t always believe what the papers say. There are always two sides to every story.”

He continues to describe what was once a tender, loving relationship.

“They were together for 3 years. After 2 years, they decided to arrange their marriage. Both families met and everything went well.

“In June 2017 she came to Jamel’s house and met his family a few weeks later.

“The nikah date was booked for October 6th 2017. Whilst getting the marriage ready, her dad decided to arrange her marriage elsewhere without telling him that their wedding isn’t going to happen.

“Her dad told her to stop talking to him and not tell him what they are doing.”

According to the source, the victim did not tell Ali about her arranged marriage, yet she continued her relationship with him.

“They went and got furniture together with his family and the wedding gold and wedding outfit.”

“2 days before the wedding she cancels on him saying ‘I’m not feeling it’ and ignored him since then.

“Her father rang Ali and said ‘Who are you? You’ve never met my daughter, get lost.’”

The victim’s father supposedly asked him to come to his home. He took up her father on the offer and went over to the victim’s house.

When he didn’t answer the door to him, he decided to send him the images and videos in a fit of anger.

The source claimed that the story about Ali “climbing on the roof and the threatening was fabricated.”

His reaction the source says was impulsive because of the betrayal he felt at that time.

“He fell in love, they arranged the marriage only to find out they were doing that to keep him sweet.

“Then when he found out the truth after making him spend all of that money, after him inviting the guests, obviously he was going to react in a bad way.”

The source revealed, though Ali shows a sense of remorse for his actions, it’s the way he felt at the time and he needed to make a point.

“He’s done his time and he’s out and happy. Whatever’s done is done. She will have to live with the shame all her life now.”

Committing the crime of revenge porn is certainly not acceptable by any means but individual circumstances and impulses can still result in an override of a person’s behaviour and responsibility of knowing what is wrong or right.

If reported, the decision of what happens to the person is then left to the police and legal system as justice for their actions.

Revenge Porn – Who’s to Blame?

revenge porn blame

Many people feel the blame lies on who takes the most responsibility for their actions.

Sameera, a British Asian student, says:

“If you send a nude to someone. At that point, you should know what you are doing. Especially, if you hardly know the person. People are too trusting nowadays.”

Kalpana, an optician, says:

“If you receive nude photos from someone, then they’ve sent you with a trust. If you then share them, you’ve broken the trust and the last person to blame is you.”

Dalbir, a student, says:

“This kind of thing is very popular nowadays. No one even thinks about who’s to blame. They are just doing it. Until it all goes wrong and causes big problems.”

Meena, a retail assistant, says:

“I think if someone shares your photos without you knowing. That’s not consent, and yes, they need to be reported.” 

Mr Shah, says:

“I think whoever sends these kinds of pictures is to blame. They should not be doing it and have some respect for themselves.

“When I was young we would’ve never revealed ourselves this way and it did not mean we were not dating or seeing girls.”

On an online debating forum, Debate.Org, 55% of internet users have answered ‘no’ to the question, ‘Should revenge porn be made illegal?’

Arguments arising carried sentiments of victim blaming.

One netizen shares:

“They should have been responsible.

“If you chose to take that picture of yourself and send it, you have nobody to blame but yourself. This is your own fault, you don’t get to choose who sees it and revoke consent.”

“Of course, there’s a difference between people who get their pictures taken without consent. That should be illegal.”

Another internet user agrees, callously stating:

“Sometimes people do something they regret. If a woman willingly has sex with a man and later regrets that, it is not rape.

“If a woman willingly sends naked photographs of herself to a guy, and later regrets that, it is not a crime.”

They also claim that revenge porn may be justified in some circumstances.

“Sometimes these “victims” of revenge porn did something really bad to their ex like cheating on them.”

Nevertheless, for the 45% who answered ‘yes’ to the question at hand, a more compassionate view is brought to the table.

“Yes, revenge porn should be illegal, because that is no different than other forms of harassment.

“Exes finding ways to harass each other is nothing new. However, that does not mean that stalking and harassment should be legal.

“This way of cyberbullying should be made illegal in order to allow people to live in peace.”

Most will agree that revenge porn is a damaging and irresponsible way of dealing with bad personal breakups or deceit. So, using it will ultimately mean you have to pay the price and take the blame if you are the perpetrator.

The Future of Revenge Porn

Many are under the belief that as long as no nudes are sent, they are safe.

This is true – for the most part.

Digital creations like ‘Deepfakes’ is a relatively new phenomenon which is taking the online porn industry by storm.

Though only having circulated the web in 2017, the threats that ‘deepfakes’ pose are astounding.

‘Deepfakes’ is a system which allows the user to superimpose someone’s face on to another’s body.

Many amateurs abuse the system, by putting celebrities’ faces on to adult film stars’ bodies in a weak attempt to create a pornographic film.

With the material being easily accessible, anyone could make use of the system at another’s expense.

As the software itself is convincing and of high quality, this can easily destroy a person’s reputation, and in turn, their life.

It’s not just the software – camera phones are improving and simplifying the ability to film videos and take photos – enticing lovers of the technology to take all kinds of photos, including self-nudes, quickly and easily.

Revenge porn is also rising drastically in India. A young girl took her own life after nude images of her were posted on Facebook. Indian laws have been put in place to address the growing issue.

Whilst many continue to play the ‘blame game,’ what can be agreed is that the heinous act of revenge pornography requires more attention and focus to eradicate it.

Often overlooked are the traumatic implications revenge pornography have on a victim’s mental health.

Research from the End Revenge Porn campaign found that 51% of revenge porn survivors in the US “have had suicidal thoughts.”

Those sharing their nudes are in danger of becoming victims as soon as they hit ‘send.’ Once these images surface the net, there is no way of knowing where they will end up.

Perpetrators see revenge pornography as an act of revenge in rage and rarely think of the consequences of their reckless actions.

Effects can be long-lasting, not only damaging the victims’ lives but also their romantic and familial relationships.

These impacts are amplified in British Asian families, where just one image could shatter the whole family tree.

If you or anyone you know is affected by revenge porn or issues related, you can contact the Revenge Porn Helpline via their website or call them on 0345 6000 459 in confidence.

Nazhat is an ambitious 'Desi' woman with interests in news and lifestyle. As a writer with a determined journalistic flair, she firmly believes in the motto "an investment in knowledge pays the best interest," by Benjamin Franklin.

* Names are changed for anonymity


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