German ruling over removal of intimate photographs ignites debate

A court in Koblenz, Germany, has ruled that intimate, compromising photographs should be deleted at the end of a relationship if one partner wants it. In this case, the woman wanted the man to delete erotic photographs she had consented to pose for. When he refused, she sought legal help.Even though the man had shown no intention of reproducing the images or putting them online, the Koblenz case has been viewed as a sign that partners should feel empowered not only to demand deletion of images, but to be able to do so immediately after the relationship ends, instead of having to wait for something bad to happen.There is much discussion at the moment about “the right not to remember” and the blurring of lines between privacy and censorship online. However, there could be no gray areas where revenge porn is concerned. In revenge porn, private photos and footage end up being shown around, sent to victims’ friends and colleagues, placed on porn sites or leaked elsewhere online.

Victims can end up stalked, sexually assaulted, being forced to leave jobs or change where they are studying, and more. It is a devastating, very modern betrayal — where just one mistake (trusting a person you are intimate with) destroys your life. Embarrassing, degrading, and frightening, it could be viewed as a form of stalking once removed.

Revenge porn also seems representative of a kind of carnal electronic tagging of the sexually active female — a way of punishing, denigrating and branding former partners — namely, the ones who got away, the point being that ultimately they didn’t manage to get away. Victims of revenge porn are bound to their tormentors, perhaps forever, within those incriminating, denigrating pixels.

With this in mind, you can see why some people campaign to have it classified as a sexual crime. Certainly revenge porn has victim-blaming in common with sexual assault.

Instead of “Why did you dress sexy?” it is “Why did you allow it to happen?” However, there is a world of difference between a couple being privately playful with an Olympus Stylus and the images ending up on a porn site.

On an ethical level, for me this extends even to when people don’t publish, and just weirdly hang on to highly intimate private images. Unless you are keeping them by mutual agreement, and he/she is cool about it, how creepy and sad to try to “hang on” to the perk of seeing your ex naked?

Perhaps even the Koblenz ruling doesn’t catch the problem early enough, and there should be an official pre-nupping of such items — making it clear who owns what, what they are allowed to do with it, and where it is permitted to end up. It might slightly “spoil the moment” as you set out your boundaries, but then again, many people think prenups about houses and possessions are unsexy/unromantic too. Your reputation and peace of mind have to be just as, or even more, valuable than material possessions.

Clearly, the hordes of scared, ashamed and tricked victims deserve stronger, more focused legislation. In a wider sense, something like this trashes the idea of the sacred contract between two people in a relationship — where basic levels of trust and mutual respect continue long after they have parted company.

In this way, the spread of revenge porn taints everybody — not just those directly affected. You see said victims bravely trying to warn others — and the most terrible thing is that they are right.

As things stand, I would strongly advise even the friskiest and most broad-minded not to be sexually photographed or filmed by anyone, under any circumstances.

Taking it from those who know, it is just not worth the risk.

‘Revenge porn’ ruling ignites debate - The Japan Times
revenge porn - Google News