Teens share photos of assault on Facebook

Images of a 16-year-old girl allegedly being raped have popped up online, and police can't stop the spread

Topics: Violence Against Women, Broadsheet, Love and Sex,

Teens share photos of assault on Facebook

The horrific gang rape of a 16-year-old girl is roiling Canada. It’s suspected that she was drugged at a rave on Saturday and then assaulted in a nearby field by a group of males. Truly adding insult to injury: The attack in Pitt Meadows, B.C., was photographed and videotaped — and the evidence was then published on Facebook by one of her alleged attackers. The photos and video “have been viewed, shared, saved and reposted numerous times,” an official told the Vancouver Sun. The images are spreading like wildfire, and it’s impossible to contain.

This is the typical predicament law enforcement faces when it comes to online child pornography: Once it’s out there, it’s usually out there for good. The digital trail is just too difficult to trace. We’ve seen a similar thing with teen “sexting.” A boyfriend gets angry when his girlfriend breaks up with him, so he texts a naked photo of her to all his buddies, they send it to all their buddies, and so on and so forth. In the end, it’s hard to know just how many people have seen the image and where it’s ended up.

This reminds me of reports earlier this year about a woman who goes by the pseudonym Amy: Her uncle sexually abused her as a little girl and circulated the photographic evidence in child porn circles. Now she’s calling for damages from anyone caught with images of her abuse; so far, her photos have shown up in more than 800 child porn prosecutions. In a letter to the court, she wrote: “It is hard to describe what it feels like to know that at any moment, anywhere, someone is looking at pictures of me as a little girl being abused by my uncle and is getting some kind of sick enjoyment from it. It’s like I am being abused over and over and over again.”



The same could also be said about the images of the alleged gang rape. The major difference here is that the material is being distributed via a mainstream website. For the most part, these are not pedophilic child pornography collectors; many of the distributors are teenagers themselves. This of course has many adults asking that age-old question: What’s wrong with kids these days? I suspect there are a couple explanations that do not require us to label “kids these days” as amoral animals. No. 1 on my list is, of course, the culture of victim blaming. According to one report, “only hours after disturbing pictures were posted on Facebook, teens were already suggesting the victim was a willing participant and asked for it.” This “othering” response allows people to mentally guard themselves against the possibility of ever being a victim themselves; it’s what’s known as the “just-world phenomenon” (and, ironically, it creates a less just world).

Of course, the other defining element here is the Internet. The Web allows us to share videos — whether it’s a crazy cat trick or footage of someone’s death — with very few keystrokes, and often very little thought. These kids have grown up in the age of “Two Girls One Cup,” a coprophilic video that rose to viral status thanks to the utter horror that it inspired in viewers. There are legion examples of even journalistic videos and photographs that have whipped around the Web specifically because they are horrifying — think of the Neda Agha-Soltan video, for example. These sorts of images are the norm. We have access to them, they exist, and so we view them — duh. Carry this view a little further and it isn’t hard to understand how even a nonsociopathic teenager might opt to view a photo of a girl’s rape, or even send it along to a friend. This is so often how we share things, good and bad; we hit “forward” or “re-tweet” or “like,” etc. Technology offers us a sense of privacy, and detachment, even as we’re sharing these things with the entire Web. The online mentality is one of entitlement and total freedom, no one has ownership over anything (just ask record label execs). I would venture to say that it hasn’t even occurred to many of the kids — the ones who are not, you know, patently evil — that they are violating this girl themselves.

Tracy Clark-Flory

Tracy Clark-Flory is a staff writer at Salon. Follow @tracyclarkflory on Twitter and Facebook.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Rose Jay via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    Labrador Retriever

    These guys are happy because their little brains literally can't grasp the concept of global warming.

    Hysteria via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    German Shepherd

    This momma is happy to bring her little guy into the world, because she doesn't know that one day they'll both be dead.

    Christian Mueller via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    Golden Retriever

    I bet these guys wouldn't be having so much fun if they knew the sun was going to explode one day.

    WilleeCole Photography via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    Bulldog

    This dude thinks he's tough, but only because nobody ever told him about ISIS.

    Soloviova Liudmyla via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    Beagle

    This little lady is dreaming about her next meal-- not Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

    Labrador Photo Video via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    Yorkshire Terrier

    This trusting yorkie has never even heard the name "Bernie Madoff."

    Pavla via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    Poodle

    She is smiling so widely because she is too stupid to understand what the Holocaust was.

    Aneta Pics via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    Boxer

    Sure, frolic now, man. One day you're going to be euthanized and so is everyone you love.

    Dezi via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    French Bulldog

    He's on a casual afternoon stroll because he is unfamiliar with the concept of eternity.

    Jagodka via Shutterstock

    Most popular dog breeds in America

    Rottweiler

    Wouldn't it be nice if we could all be this care-free? But we can't because we are basically all indirectly responsible for slavery.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>