Sunday, 22 July 2012

Social Media and Naming Offenders

A seventeen year old woman in Louisville, Kentucky is facing possible charges  for contempt of court after she tweeted the names of two adolescents who allegedly sexually assaulted her, videotaped the incident and posted it on line.  Frustrated with a plea bargain that reduced the charges against the two alleged offenders the young woman named the two young men in a tweet. Recently another victim of an alleged sexual assault in Melbourne went on line naming her alleged offender.  The world has changed with the advent of social media.  People can anonymously send information to a wide audience. Breaking the silence has for several decades been seen as empowering for victims of sexual assault.  The internet has given this slogan an entirely new meaning.
Whatever penalties may be developed for using social media to name offenders there is no question it gives women, and men, who feel powerless in the face of legal barriers and conventions an outlet that did not exist in the past.

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