Transparency International

This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from one of Transparency International’s national chapters. The Anti-Corruption Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International and funded by the European Union

Query

How can sextortion be effectively criminalised? What are the possible paths to criminalising sextortion and how can this be achieved with a victim-centred approach? Please provide examples from around the world.

Summary

Recent work by International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) and Transparency International, among other civil society organisations, have contributed to raising awareness about sextortion as a form of corruption that severely affects women, girls and vulnerable individuals across the world, and, more generally, jeopardises the provision of public services and undermines public confidence in institutions and the rule of law. Corruption perpetuates gender inequality and abuse of power, and sextortion, in particular, encourages other forms of gender-based violence (GBV), such as rape, sexual assault and abuse.

As both a form of corruption and a form of sexual abuse, sextortion lies at the intersection of the anti-corruption (AC) and GBV legal frameworks, both of which present a specific set of challenges for effectively prosecuting sextortion. For example, under the GVB framework, prosecutors face major evidentiary challenges around the issue of consent. Under the AC framework, some countries only criminalise corruption when monetary bribes are involved, and the victims can potentially be prosecuted as a bribe-giver. To prosecute sextortion, in most countries, law enforcement officials continue to rely on a patchwork of legislation that does not cover all the ways in which sextortion manifests itself. Specific legislation on sextortion being discussed in some countries in Latin America presents an alternative to addressing the problem. This paper presents the challenges involved in prosecuting sextortion under both frameworks and explores possible options to address those.

Contents

1. Introduction

2. What is sextortion?

3. Why criminalise sextortion?

- Role of criminalisation

- Harm to society and the need for a victim-centred approach

4. Approaches to criminalising sextortion

- Anti-corruption legal framework

- Gender-based violence legal framework

- Emerging legislation specifically dedicated to sextortion

5. References


Authors

Guilherme France, tihelpdesk@transparency.org

Reviewers

Marie Chêne, Kaunain Rahman and Marie Terracol, Transparency International and Nancy Hendry International Association of Women Judges

Date

10/06/2022

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