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Cybersexism, Prostitution and Sexual Violence have been Trivialized by Young People in a Worrying Way

The web reflects the sexist and sexual violence suffered by young people in the streets, means of transportation or school playgrounds. This is the worrying finding by the sociological study on cybersexism (concerning the 12/15 years old teenagers - fr)which has just been published by the Centre Hubertine Auclert. Beyond the Pyrénées, a recent Spanish study shows 20% of the students interviewed think there is no problem in “using the services” of a prostituted person. Is the trivialization of sexual violence, sexual domination and sexism going to be a usual aspect of youth’s lives?

Cybersexisme, prostitution, violences sexuelles : une inquiétante banalisation chez les jeunes


Scope of cyber sexism

Rumors, insults, threats, sex-characterized messages and blackmails are disseminated on the web and social networks to reach young people’s computers, I pads and telephones. 20% of girls and 13% of boys reported that they received online insults in relation with their physical appearance; moreover, 17% of the girls and 11% of the boys declared they were faced with sex- characterized cyber violence through photos, videos or mailings. This phenomena is markedly increasing. The feeling of impunity, thanks to the apparent digital anonymity and the mean surveillance of what occurs on the web, help spread these practices that were originally rooted in the public opinion. As early as 2014, during the seminar « Digital society,  from best to worst: Sexual exploitation through the web (fr only) » organized by the Fondation Scelles, Carole Gay, the lawyer in charge of the judicial affairs at the AFPI (French Association of the Internet providers), warned about sextortion practices: they are “utilized by pedophiles and consist in making inappropriate pictures of a minor before threatening him or her to send them to his or her family so as to get some more out of him or her”.


>>> Read also : Comment Internet a stimulé l'échange de services sexuels (fr only)


From cyber sexism to sexual exploitation

As the trivialization of behaviors leads to the merchandising of the body as an object, the digital space is full of more disguised forms of sexual exploitation, from the escorts catalogues to the advertisements for “erotic massage”. “Anybody can easily access to erotic ads on popular sites such as Vivastreet or others dealing with more specialized domains,” said Romain Fonsegrives and Jenna Le Bras in their article « The net sidewalk (Fr only) », which won the 2013 best article for the Scelles Foundation Awards, “The youth against sexual exploitation. Trivialization is also present in the presentation of sites which are easily available and often consulted. What can be said about this Spanish study in which 89 % of the students (link article) who were questioned declared they werein favor of an “organization” of prostitution. The head inspector of the “Centro de Inteligencia de Analisis de Riesgo de la Policia Nacional” recently informed El Mundo that “clients” were younger and younger, “around 19 or 20 years old”. It sounds as if paying for a sexual act was normal. In order to be part of the group, you have to do like the others, that is to say “consummate”. This is a worrying standardization.

Are Prevention and Awareness Possible Ripostes?

In France, however, the launch of a great prevention campaign (#stopcybersexisme), the dissemination of an awareness tool to 1500 Ile de France high-schools and the development of an experimental prevention project targeting 1500 pupils reveal the will against this evolution. It is urgent to warn young people about daily life violence and the abuse on the web, and to help them respect one another. The culture of equality values will impede the trivialization of sexism and the treating of others as mere things.

Whereas the law dated April 13th 2016 reinforce the fight against the prostitution system mentions in article L. 312-17-1-1 that “an information on the prostitution realities and the dangers of the body merchandising” must be delivered in high schools, according to same age groups”, it is high time the country should undertake the task.

So as to go further

Les loverboys, l'amour proxénète (fr)

Cybersexisme : une étude sociologique dans des établissements scolaires franciliens (fr)

« Pagar por sexo, normal entre los jóvenes » I.Velasco – (es)


Young people against sexual exploitation: 2012-2013 videos




The Scelles Foundation in the press

  • (ES - Milenio) El ser humano no está a la venta
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