When you have a private, personal photo taken, you expect it to remain private. Even when relationships end, you trust that your privacy will be intact. You also trust that your personal information, such as your name, rank and where you are stationed will not be posted online without your consent.
Unfortunately, for many female Marines, this violation of trust and respect has already happened. Thousands of images of female Marines were posted online without the victims' consent. They included nude photos and personal information.
Gloria Allred, founding partner of Allred, Maroko & Goldberg, represents two of the victims and held a press conference on March 8th with the victims to help raise awareness of this issue. At the press conference, Ms. Allred stated, "Changes need to be made. Consequences need to be meted out."
It's not just nude photos that result in sexual harassment online
Even where photos shared online were of female Marines who were in appropriate attire, the comments on the photos were anything but appropriate. Some of the comments were pornographic and sexually violent, including suggesting raping or killing female Marines.
Marine veteran Erica Butner said in the press conference, "This exact behavior leads to the normalization of sexual harassment and even sexual violence."
New legislation to make sharing without consent a military crime
This past week, attorney Gloria Allred and Representative Jackie Speier announced a new bill that provides for punishment of servicemembers who share nude photos online. Under the current the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), it is a crime to take nude photos without consent. The new bill proposes to make sharing of nude photos without consent also a crime.
Speak up if you are a victim
If you have been victimized by online harassment, you are not alone. You can take action. You do not need to sit in silence.
Speak up about the harassment you have faced. Report inappropriate behavior to your commanding officer. If you feel your voice is not being heard, you may want to speak with an attorney about your situation to ensure your rights are protected and to help prevent sexual harassment of other female servicemembers.