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Are laws needed to combat 'revenge pornography'?

Perpetrators are using technological advances to commit a range of new offences, many of which are not yet covered by legislation such as 'revenge pornography', which affected over 700 women from Brisbane and surrounding areas earlier this year when their nude photos were distributed on the internet.

Bond University PhD student and Senior Teaching Fellow, Matthew Raj, says that by using or converting to new technology, perpetrators are more able to commit offences remotely under a perceived cloak of anonymity. This, he says, has led to a new wave of domestic and sexual violence.

Mr Raj will be presenting his research as part of Bond University's Research Week, running from November 16 to 20. The Gold Coast based university is showcasing the diverse research underway across the faculties of Law, Business, Health and Medicine, and Society and Design.

"It is clear from what we are seeing in our research, and also in the media, that there has been a distinct increase in technology-related offences, in correlation with the rise of mobile applications and other developing technologies," said Mr Raj.

"Stalking, domestic violence and the new phenomenon of 'revenge pornography' have been facilitated in recent years by the exponential growth in society's use of technology.

"For example, a recent report found that some people are now stalking their partners by monitoring their electronic public transport tickets such as GoCards.

"In some Australian jurisdictions, such as Victoria, laws have been introduced to specifically target the use of technology to commit traditional crimes, where it is a criminal offence to intentionally distribute an intimate image of a person without their consent. It may be that similar laws are needed Australia-wide.

"Revenge pornography' is such a new concept that in Queensland it is not technically an offence, as we have not yet legislated against it. However, already this year in Brisbane alone over 700 people have fallen victim to this new harm.

"The public outcry has really made it clear that something needs to be done."

Mr Raj's presentation will provide an overview of the criminal justice responses, both domestically and internationally, to technology-assisted instances of stalking and domestic and sexual violence, and will look at the practical limitations that exist to frustrate the occurrence of 'revenge pornography'.

He is midway through undertaking a world-first study looking into how victims have responded to stalking behaviours, examining the impact of ‘when’ victims respond to help determine what action, when taken, is the most effective. The results of the study are due to be published in 2016.

"An estimated 19 per cent of women in Australia will be stalked at some stage in their life, with approximately one-fifth of all victims suffering from some form of physical assault by their stalker," he said.

Mr Raj said he was looking for female participants over the age of 18 who had been stalked at some stage in their life, to participate in an online survey. The Victim Responses to Stalking Survey can be completed anonymously online at or by contacting Matthew Raj at [email protected].

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