The Mexican government just kicked off a new campaign tackling “sexting,” and despite their well intentions, not everyone is on board.
The anti-sexting campaign, officially titled “Think Before You Sext: 10 Reasons Not to Perform Sexting,” aims to reduce the risk of “sextortion,” the practice of blackmailing someone by threatening to publish sexually explicit photos of them, and “revenge porn,” when an ex publishes sexual or nude material of their former partner without their consent.
Both sextortion and revenge porn are growing problems in Mexico. According to the Alliance for Internet Security (AIS), an organization that provides legal counsel to parents whose children are victims of revenge porn, they have handled as many as 200 cases this year alone. And it’s a problem that predominantly impacts women. While men and women engage in sexting almost equally, a study from AIS found that 49 out of 50 complaints of incidents are reported by the latter.
“Sexting is a latent threat because it starts out as something fun but it can end up in a grave situation that spins out of control, resulting in social, physical, psychological, and legal consequences for the victims,” Ximena Puentes de la Mora, the president of the group heading the campaign, the National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data (INAI), said at a press conference last week.
Still, they realize that this isn’t a practice that they can ban but rather one that should focus on prevention.
“[Sexting] cannot be prohibited, it cannot be eradicated, it would be like saying we can eradicate sexually transmitted diseases,” INAI commissioner Francisco Javier Acuña said at the press conference. “Sexting involves behavioral risks and the only thing we can do with behavioural risks is to control their effects through prevention, sharing information and explanations.”
While AIS appreciates INAI’s efforts, the group is concerned about the campaign’s approach, believing that it, as with other forms of gender-based violence, puts the blame and onus on women for the injustice made against them.
“To tell them not to do it simply doesn’t work,” Armando Novoa, director of ASI, said. “We have to teach them how to do it responsibly, without exposing themselves and others. Children need to know about this the moment they get access to the internet.”
For him, Mexico’s anti-sexting campaign invokes fear rather than educates society about these practices.
Watch a video from the campaign warning young Mexicans about the risk of sexting above, and tell us what you think.