April 4, 2015 9:19 pm
Updated: April 6, 2015 7:22 am

Women’s rights advocates applaud revenge porn sentence

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Watch above: A San Diego man has been handed 18 years in prison for running a website that allowed anonymous users to post sexually explicit photos. Amber Rockliffe reports.

SASKATOON – Cyber exploitation is a growing problem in our country, according to the Canadian Women’s Foundation. The organization’s senior communications director Diane Hill said online sexual harassment can have devastating effects.

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“This is costing women their mental health, their jobs, ruining relationships … it’s dangerous,” she explained.

San Diego resident Kevin Christopher Bollaert, 28, has been sentenced to nearly 18 years in prison for running a website that allowed anonymous users to post sexually explicit photos – often of former lovers – without their consent. The victims then had to pay Bollaert to take down the images.

“It’s called ‘revenge porn’, but it’s really just another form of sexual harassment,” Hill said.

“The people who posted the photos, in my opinion, are guilty of online sexual harassment.”

READ MORE: Revenge-porn website operator sentenced to 18 years

Prosecutors said Bollaert’s website, ugotposted.com, damaged relationships, cost people jobs and led to an attempted suicide.

“Especially on the internet, people are able to get away with so much because of the anonymity, and because of the idea that it’s separate from our lived reality,” said Sinead O’Reilly, a University of Saskatchewan women’s and gender studies major.

“A lot of things happen on the internet that aren’t dealt with or even looked at, and women have to fight so hard to get somebody to take a photo down, or get their name removed.”

Women’s rights advocates hope Bollaert’s sentence will serve as a reminder that online activity is not off-limits in court.

“I think this is a good step in the right direction towards consent culture. Consent is extremely important and we should all value it,” O’Reilly explained.

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