Public Comments for: HB334 - Sexually explicit visual material to another; unlawful dissemination, penalty.
I do not support any bills that criminalize folks
My name is Tonja Roberts and I serve on the board of the National Women’s Political Caucus of Virginia. I am submitting a statement in favor of House bill 334. There are many statistics that speak to why we need legislation in place to protect individuals from being violated virtually by receiving unsolicited lewd pictures. For example, the dating app Bumblr took a survey and found That 96 % of users indicated they didn’t want nude messages sent via text or messaged in any other manner. There are numerous accounts of Virginians receiving these types of lewd communications. I ask that the house protect its citizens by voting for house bill 334.
It is long overdue that Virginia makes the sending of unsolicited lewd photos illegal in the Commonwealth. Many citizens just like myself are sent these photos and a "no" or a "stop" isn't enough of a deterrent to offenders. The anonymity of the internet makes it easily accessible for these offenders to hide behind closed doors and cyber flash as many people as they want to. Those who wouldn't dare to flash someone in public because of its illegality are currently empowered to cyber flash because there is currently no deterrent. HB 334 will finally catch Virginia up to the modern era of technology. This bill is necessary for the safety and well-being of countless Virginians who could be victims of cyber flashing. We already protect individuals from these offenders in person; it is time to protect them virtually as well. I urge this subcommittee to vote in favor of bringing this House bill to the floor.
HOUSE BILL NO. 334 I could not even begin to count the number of unsolicited, sexually explicit photos I have received from men. It has gotten to the point where I don’t even allow male contacts on some social media platforms and my social medias are all private. It is a violation of my rights to have to deal with this, and there is no real consequence thus far. Accountability needs to be taken and there needs to be consequences.
As a mother of two girls, it is incredibly comforting to know that this, very real and growing issue, is being taken seriously. I have been violated, several times, by receiving completely unsolicited and unwanted pictures of genitalia. These interactions have stuck with me due to their vulgarity and aggressiveness. In a world that is fast turning virtual, my fear for my children is that they will endure this far more than I ever have. Reasons like this are exactly why I fear my children getting cell phones, social media and any form of communication with their peers. As a sexual abuse victim and now parent, I plead that there is action taken against individuals who continue to force themselves like this into the hands of those who have not asked for it. I believe allowing this behavior, unpunished, will continue to promote rape culture and an unsafe virtual world that is inevitable. Thank you for your time.