May 4, 2007

Tech-Crunch:-Virtual Rape Is Traumatic, but Is It a Crime?

Last month, two Belgian publications reported that the Brussels police have begun an investigation into a citizen's allegations of rape -- in Second Life.

I am half convinced that the tantalizingly brief story, printed in De Morgen and Het Laatste Nieuws, is a hoax or an April Fool's joke.

Yet it has prompted several threads of discussion, from a legal analysis to four pages of commentary at the Second Citizen forums.

Unfortunately, rape in virtual spaces is not unheard of. And I'm not talking about the "consensual" rape built into some games (although if you're interested in that debate, GameGrene has a good conversation about it).

There is no question that forced online sexual activity -- whether through text, animation, malicious scripts or other means -- is real; and is a traumatic experience that can have a profound and unpleasant aftermath, shaking your faith in yourself, in the community, in the platform, even in sex itself.

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