Women in danger: spy cameras spreading, women demand action

Reem Hosam El-din
6 Min Read

An outrageous trend has recently spread across the internet, flooding adult websites with thousands and thousands of videos and photos of women, taken in intimate settings by hidden cameras, set up by owners of public places or male citizens who intentionally take these videos without the women knowing. This kind of content has always existed on the internet; however, the noticeable increase in the number of videos, photos, and the number of women getting harmed by their spread has significantly increased, leading to protests and demands by women who were subject to these violations to stop the spread of this content and have action taken against individuals responsible for such outrageous actions.

The phenomenon is specifically prevailing in Asia, as illicit filming seems to be quickly growing. “Thousands of South Korean women have gathered in Seoul to demand stronger government action to fight the spread of intimate photos and video taken by hidden cameras, which they say has women living in constant anxiety and distress. It was one of the country’s largest female-only protest ever. Demonstrators called for stronger investigations and punishments against male offenders who photograph or film women without their knowledge and post the material online,” BBC News reported.

South Korea has struggled over the years to deal with perpetrators who use tiny cameras or smartphones to film under women’s clothing to see their genitals or underwear. The footage is heavily circulated on illicit pornography websites that have millions of users before police managed to shut down one of these websites back in 2016. An unknown number of similar sites are still running, according to CBS News.

South Korea is one of the few countries to take action, albeit little, against such sexual offences. Under the South Korean law, creating intimate sexual images without consent is punishable by a prison term of up to five years or a fine of up to 10m won ($8,900). Distributing such images for the purpose of profit is punishable by up to seven years in prison or a 30m won ($27,000) fine.

Since 2004, the South Korean government has required smartphones to make large shutter sounds when pictures and videos are taken in order to prevent such crimes, however, the issue remains as specific applications enable users to silence the shutter sound. “Moreover, there is an abundance of miniaturised cameras that can be hidden inside bags, shoes, toilets, or small holes drilled into bathroom walls and doors,” CBS News added.

In China, the case is not much different, as a recent incident was reported on local media about a man who ran an illegal backpackers’ inn in Southwest China detained for spying on female guest as they took a shower. The main was given a nine-day detention after he confessed to spying on young women and was given a ¥500 fine ($75) for operating the guest house without police approval, according to South China Morning Post.

In a similar incident in Hong Kong, recordings of girls changing at an elite secondary school were stored on a shared Google drive folder called “vids for life”, a Chinese court heard, according to South China Morning Post. The convicts were two 16-year old boys who pleaded not guilty before the judges.

“Prosecutors alleged the boys installed hidden GoPro and iPad cameras in two classrooms and two changing rooms, in an offence that spanned six months from September 2016 to 23 March last year. The case involved more than 40 videos and photos. Inside were three subfolders, with videos of schoolgirls changing for sports lessons stored under the names “pool” and “change”, while upskirt footage taken in classrooms was stored in a folder called “under”. Another Google drive was later discovered when teachers gained access to a telegram chat group, in which the members discussed which girls to target.  That drive also contained videos, as well as images named after specific girls. They included a set of videos filmed by cameras placed at the front and back of a classroom that recorded schoolgirls changing for a sports lesson, South China Morning Post reported.

Recently in Wisconsin, USA, a voyeur who attempted filming women’s skirts was injured when the spy camera hidden in his shoe exploded. The 32 year-old man suffered burns on his foot when the camera’s battery exploded before he was able to capture any video, according to The Independent. The man was released after he went to the police station since no illicit videos were taken.

It is noteworthy that upskirting was made a felony offence in Wisconsin in 2015.

Women worldwide are constantly subject to such offences. Unless legal action is taken against the men who committee these actions, the “trend” of spying will only continue to prevail, and women will continue to fight against such shameful acts that harm their rights as equal citizens.

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