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Κυριακή, 28 Νοεμβρίου, 2021
ΑρχικήEnglish EditionHow revenge porn turned into a political weapon in Myanmar

How revenge porn turned into a political weapon in Myanmar


By Nefeli Kanellou,

Revenge porn and the distribution of intimate photos and videos, mainly of celebrities, has been an issue in Myanmar for years. Countless accounts that publish sexual content get taken down and go up again. So why is this making the news now?

Celebrities are not the only ones that are being targeted at the moment. The recent victims of the publication of intimate pictures are mainly female activists who are openly opposing the Military Government that seized control of the country earlier this year. The photos, both real and fake, are being uploaded and circulated as a form of political weapon. The photos are being uploaded through a Telegram account, which, even though it is being taken down every three days, goes up again, always carrying explicit content.

However, the fact that activists are the ones being targeted at the moment could be received as a form of retaliation, given that the same technique was also used by members of the opposition.

People protest against the military coup in Launglon township, Myanmar March 30, 2021. (Image Source: Dawei Watch/via REUTERS/The Japan Times)

One week after the military coup in February, members of the opposition started to publish intimate photos and videos of female members of the families of people that worked for the government. Women, who were either friendly towards the regime or that they were not openly opposed to it. This was then labeled as a ‘social punishment’ campaign.

And this trend of ‘social punishment’ continued and progressed as the political opposition felt like this was the only way to make their voices heard. The punishment is not always taking the form of publication of sexual content. Besides photos and videos, the full names and addresses of the women who side with the junta regime are being published, disregarding completely the danger that this action may put them in.

Some would argue that danger is always in play when a country faces an internal crisis, but somehow women seem to always be at a great disadvantage. Even before the overthrow of the government, revenge porn, rape, and sexual exploitation have been used as a weapon. Now, the social punishment just leads to countless women every day being harassed, arrested, and marginalized and it is all justified in the name of a higher cause — the political one. As the crisis continues and the internal friction flourishes, more women will be caught in the middle and morality will be long forgotten.

Image Source: Saijai Liangpunsakul

Sometimes, we associate the infringement of women’s rights with authoritarian regimes and unfortunately, we are not wrong, but in this particular case, the degradation of women is coming also by the side that fighting for the establishment of a democratic government. Especially in a time of crisis, those fighting for an inclusive and democratic future should be the ones who fight for every aspect of the democratic values, who uphold the basic morality that seems to fade during internal strife.

Understandably, the country of Myanmar is in a deep crisis since February’s coup, but should basic morality be abandoned in times of crisis? Does the end really justify the means? And how can the forces that fight for a democratic future, do so, by disregarding basic human rights and morality?


References
  • Thiha, A., Revenge Porn Has Become a Political Weapon in Myanmar, The Diplomat, Available here
  • Thiha, A., Revenge porn becomes a political weapon in Myanmar, Japan Times, Available here

 

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Nefeli Kanellou
She was born in Athens. She holds a bachelor degree in International and European Studies from University of Piraeus and is currently doing her master on Energy at the same university. She speaks 4 languages and is really interested in matters of international security, energy and sustainability issues as well as social injustice and politcal issues.