Seyram Abdallah writes: Sextortion, a growing concern in a digital age

Sextortion, a threatening blend of sexual exploitation and extortion, has emerged as a pervasive threat, leaving victims traumatised and vulnerable

In an era dominated by digital connectivity, a new form of cybercrime is on the rise, targeting individuals of all ages and backgrounds.

Sextortion, a threatening blend of sexual exploitation and extortion, has emerged as a pervasive threat, leaving victims traumatised and vulnerable.

The Ghana Police Cyber Crime Unit in 2019 disclosed that it recorded 10 of such cases in a month. Although the figures for the period before 2019 were worrying, officials say the recent trend is alarming.

The psychological and emotional toll of sextortion on victims can be devastating.

Many experience profound feelings of shame, guilt, and fear, leading to anxiety, depression, and even suicidal intensions. Moreover, the potential social and professional consequences of exposure can worsen these effects, leaving individuals isolated and traumatised.

Speaking on the Asaase Breakfast show, the founder and CEO of Africa Digital Rights Hub, Teki Akuettey, urged individuals to exercise caution in their online activities, highlighting the irreversible nature of shared content.

To mitigate the risk of sextortion, individuals are urged to exercise caution when interacting online, safeguarding personal information and refraining from sharing explicit content with strangers.

“It’s part of human nature to explore. That does not give third parties or any other person you share those moments with rights to share them to others. That is why we have strengthen the laws in these areas over the past decades. The internet is not a Christian, it does not forgive and forget”, Akuettey said.

Additionally, cybersecurity measures such as robust password protection, two-factor authentication and regular software updates can help prevent unauthorised access to devices and accounts.

The senior manager of Child Online Protection at the Cyber Security Authority, Nelson Harold Darko in an interview with Asaase News, also explained that per the cyber security act, threats to disseminate such material constitutes a criminal offense, punishable by imprisonment for up to three years.

Many cases of sextortion have gained media attention in recent years, showing the severity of the problem. From teenagers to adults, no one is immune to the dangers posed by sextortion.

Each case serves as a reminder of the need for vigilance and proactive measures to combat this menace.

Listen to a report by Asaase 99.5 Accra’s Seyram Abdallah

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