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Feb 18, 2019

Viral Videos Kindle Open Discussion on Cyber Bullying

Cyber bullying has become a trending topic since a series of pornographic videos were shared across various social media platforms over the weekend.  The incidents have raised the ire of many, including social activists, who have since gone on record to express their displeasure with what can only be described as a most despicable act aimed at humiliating and degrading the persons involved.  One such victim is Seven News anchor Indira Craig.  In a statement issued by our colleague media house earlier today, Tropical Vision Limited, Channel 7, says, quote, we denounce in the strongest terms the sharing of private video content involving our news anchor, Indira Craig”, unquote.  In a similar release from the Special Envoy for Women and Children earlier today, it said, “in these instances, what was intended to be private moments are weaponized and used to embarrass and demean an unsuspecting victim.” News Five’s Isani Cayetano has the following report.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The propagation of lewd material online, images of sexual acts caught on camera, is a form of cyber bullying.  This harmful, coercive behavior has become increasingly common, particularly among teenagers, in order to provoke a reaction, disturbance or for one’s own personal amusement.  The outcome is often traumatic and victims may have lower self-esteem, increased suicidal ideation, as well as any number of emotional responses.  In Belize, as in other jurisdictions, cyber bullying is on the rise and requisite legislation to address this issue is slow in catching up.


Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, Attorney-at-law

“I couldn’t tell you exactly where we are with the legislation, but I can tell you that we gave full support to the increases in penalties for child sexual exploitation, child pornography and any kind of videoing.  We gave full support of that in relation to children.  Now, in relation to adults, let me say this, if you in the privacy of your home and adult life want to do something with a video or a photograph that is your business and you have the right to privacy.”


That right to privacy for one prominent Belizean news anchor, Indira Craig, as well as an underage high school student, in separate acts, has been grossly violated since short videos depicting them in sexually compromising positions began circulating over the weekend.


Indira Craig

Lisa Shoman, Attorney-at-law

“There are laws protecting minors.  We have a commercial sexual exploitation act that protects minors.  This was passed six years ago, in 2013.  It is very strong, for those of you out there who have a video of a fifteen-year-old engaged in a sexual act and it is on your device, you are breaking the law.”


The dissemination, by social media, of a student presently attending Wesley College participating in a sexual act while dressed in her school’s uniform was one of several videos that have gone viral.


Lisa Shoman

Lisa Shoman

“One of the most pernicious things about the entire weekend episode is that things weren’t being shared on Facebook where they can be reported and taken down immediately… Via Whatsapp and in a few cases, via Messenger Inbox, okay.  It’s harder on Messenger Inbox but you can report it.  Whatsapp is absolutely difficult to police, but for those of you who possess any of those videos, you are liable for a criminal offense.”


Today, that teenager is not at school and her guardians have been advised by the administration to seek counseling for her.  The actions taken by those who chose to spread the damaging content is beyond despicable.


Dolores Balderamos-Garcia

Dolores Balderamos-Garcia

“Now when nasty people, malicious people want to get that out there to damage your character and to damage your ability, right now, the one over the weekend isn’t the only one.  We have one of the teacher in Orange Walk, a teacher in the classroom for so many years, now when that is happening, I want to say, I am not there at the table but I want to say that we have to try to clamp down on that because that is bad to violate people’s human dignity and their privacy.”


While there is legislation that protects minors from being sexually exploited in such manner, there is nothing in our statement of fundamental laws that safeguards adults, aside from their unconditional right to privacy.


Lisa Shoman

“Everybody makes personal decisions and whether you initially consent or not, you have an absolute right to privacy.  The constitution guarantees you the right to privacy.  The problem is, we don’t have laws like in Trinidad that criminalize the unauthorized distribution of images or video.”


In the absence of laws that prohibit cyber bullying, there is an urge for legislation to be drafted, presented and ratified.


Dolores Balderamos-Garcia

“Well we have to move up quick, we have to move up quick, what more can I say?  We have to move up quickly.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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