Sexually explicit images: Examining the lawful and unlawful new forms of sexual engagement

Document Type

Book Chapter


Nova Science Publishers


School of Arts and Humanities




Grobbelaar, M., & Guggisberg, M. (2018). Sexually explicit images: Examining the lawful and unlawful new forms of sexual engagement. In Guggisberg, M., Henricksen, J. (Eds.),Violence against women in the 21st century: Challenges and future directions (pp. 133-160). Hauppage, NY: Nova Science Publishers.

Book Available here.


Growing recognition surrounds the change that the internet has provided in relation to sexual behaviour. not only is sexually explicit material abundantly available on every device but people are increasingly engaging in creating pornographic materials using information communication technology. Against the background, technology has provided a medium that enables new forms of sexual engagement but also unlawful behaviours including revenge porn that is the non consensual distribution of sexually explicit images of an intimate partner which has become known as a weapon for disgruntled partners. Countless interactive pornographic websites have been created for the purpose of enabling the sharing of sexually explicit images for the sole purpose of revenge by publicly shaming and humiliating the depicted person. Once images are uploaded they can end up anywhere on the internet. Furthermore emerging sexually abusive behaviours include catfishing and sextortion are behaviours that extend the concept of image based sexual abuse. There seems to be a double standard and lack of recognition of the wide ranging impact on victimised womens health, well being and livelihood. Victim blaming attitudes prevail such as focus on the origin of the image rather than on the non consensual nature of the access and distribution of sexually explicit images and videos. The purpose of this chapter is to situate image based sexual abuse within the context of intimate partner violence and to challenge claims that non contact sexual victimisation is trivial. A better understanding of these emerging sexual behaviours using internet technology will allow victimised women and girls to seek help and to correct victim blaming attitudes among professionals as well as in the general community.

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