The number of cases of technology-facilitated gender-based violence continues to rise. Location tracking and threats to distribute private videos cause as much harm as physical violence on victims. Many times, victims are afraid to speak out for fear of retribution.
Fei Fei, Victim: “I started panicking, because I didn't know if he was in possession of videos of me.”
The actions of her ex left victim "Fei Fei" exhausted both physically and mentally. He called her four times in three minutes, insulted her, and threatened to distribute videos of them having sex. In 2021, the Kaohsiung City Government handled nearly 22,000 cases of domestic violence, of which 50 percent were intimate partner violence. Cases of technology-enabled gender-based violence like Fei Fei's are on the rise. This type of violence is as harmful as physical violence.
Li Hui-ling, Dir., Kaohsiung Dom. Violence & Sexual Assault Prev. Ctr.: “Digital threats and the distribution of digital videos generate a lot of dread in victims. They are as harmful to the mental and physical states, work, daily life, and family of victims as face to face confrontations.”
Common types of technology-enabled gender-based violence include location tracking, harassment through texts, threats to monitor or misappropriate accounts, sexual violence, and sexual extortion, such as the threat to distribute sex videos. Kaohsiung's Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention Center encourages victims to courageously report perpetrators and apply for protection orders. They can use legal channels to constrain perpetrators and request videos to be removed. However, women's groups are concerned that this is not enough.
Chang Kai-chiang, Secretary-General, Women in Digital Initiative: “Someone who distributes videos may be guilty of disseminating obscene products, and the punishment for that is very light. The purpose of laws may not necessarily be to protect victims, so this whole legal system cannot keep up with advances in digital technology.”
In March, the Executive Yuan passed amendments to four laws, including the Criminal Code and Sexual Assault Crime Prevention Act, to increase the punishment for acts such as distributing private images without consent. Women's groups hope the government can set up a dedicated law to protect against new forms of criminal behavior that may arise in the future and ensure there is an authority that can compile statistics or amend policies.