In a First, a Man Is Charged for Rape Over the Internet

Image: David Burillo
Sweden’s laws don’t require penetration to call it rape.

By Samantha Cole | MOTHERBOARD

Society’s wrestled with the idea of what is and isn’t rape online since the dawn of avatars and chat rooms. Even before graphic user interfaces and the modern internet, “rape” happened in text-based servers—the most infamous, perhaps original, example documented in Julian Dibbell’s 1993 essay, “A Rape in Cyberspace,” which described abuse in a MUD server. In 2007, Belgium police investigated a Second Life user for “virtual rape.” World of Warcraft has a rape den. Harassment and abusive behavior in virtual worlds is rampant.

But on Thursday—in a first for Sweden, and possibly for the world—a court found a man guilty of rape over the internet. He’d coerced children in Canada, the US, and Britain into performing sexual acts in front of a webcam while he watched, by threatening them and their families if they didn’t comply, according to the Associated Press.

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