Home COLUMNS CAMERA SHY? Nazir Afzal on Revenge Porn & Blackmailing

CAMERA SHY? Nazir Afzal on Revenge Porn & Blackmailing

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We all have access to phones, webcams, laptops and digital cameras.  We are part of a generation encouraged to share pictures on Facebook, Snapchat and other social networks. We cannot stop the tide, but we can educate and advise…writes Nazir Afzal OBE, former Chief Crown Prosecutor

 by . Shazia (not her real name) is a 19-year-old Manchester student and comes from a stable British Asian family. She had a very brief relationship with a fellow student and ended it when he became more possessive. He has stalked her ever since. Then one day an envelope arrived at her family home. Fortunately, it was addressed to her and she opened it. She knew what it was before she looked.

The first few pictures were her posing fully clothed, but the others were not. He had asked for some pictures early in their relationship and she had reluctantly taken some of herself in the mirror and emailed them to him. At first he wanted her to be his girlfriend again, she bravely said NO. Then he wanted £200, then he wanted a further £800 and then he threatened to show them to her family, he had already shown them to a couple of friends. She felt she couldn’t tell the police, certainly not tell her family – particularly where honour and shame have led to serious consequences for other women in her community. Shazia tried to kill herself.

Sadly, her story is far from unusual. There are women and girls in their hundreds from all races, religions, classes, educational levels, post codes and tax codes, approaching support groups, or courageously seeking the help of the Police and Prosecutors.

Don’t keep it yourself, tell someone about it. Don’t suffer silently

The availability and multiplicity of cameras has contributed to this phenomenon. We have gone in a decade from one per family that had a 200 page instruction booklet to several cameras each. We all have access to phones, webcams, laptops and digital cameras.  We are part of a generation encouraged to share pictures on Facebook, Snapchat and other social networks. We cannot stop the tide, but we can educate and advise. We can explain the dangers to privacy, the potential of you being a victim of blackmail and worse. Too many young women are being tempted, cajoled through peer pressure or otherwise, or tricked into sending the most compromising photographs to virtual strangers, to partners in short term relationships or even where there is none.

I have seen the devastating impact that this can have where money or favours (including sexual ones) are demanded to prevent further disclosure. Where relationships are damaged, and where families are torn apart. Combine that with weak families who believe that their honour is at stake and the risks, already great, escalate beyond all measure.

Don’t keep it yourself, tell someone about it. Don’t suffer silently.

(Mr Nazir Afzal OBE is former Chief Crown Prosecutor. Please send your comments to newsdesk@asianlite.com)