Are you a victim of 'sextortion'?

Posted at 09/18/10 12:22 PM

MANILA, Philippines - It all started with a recent report from the Associated Press, which involved 3 teenage girls from Indiana yielding to requests to flash their breasts in an Internet chatroom via webcam.

A week later, one of the girls reportedly began getting e-mails from a stranger, who said that she "captured her image on the webcam and would post the pictures to her MySpace friends unless she posed for more explicit pictures and videos for him."

She did what her blackmailer demanded, at least for 2 occasions, the AP report said. Eventually, the stranger, a 19-year-old man from Maryland, was charged for sexual exploitation.

Prosecutors in the United States called the crime "sextortion," which the Urban Dictionary defined as the "use of guilt, power or knowledge of certain secrecy to force another person into having sex or performing sexual favors." The term is a combination of the words "sex" and "extortion."

Atty. Katrina Legarda, a prominent family lawyer in the country, cited some instances of sextortion: a boss asking a co-worker to have sex in exchange for a promotion and a teacher requesting for sexual favors from a student for a passing grade.

Legarda noted that there is no specific law against sextortion in the Philippines yet, although it may be classified under rape, sexual harassment, acts of lasciviousness, or graft and corruption.

For those who feel that they were victims of sextortion, Legarda suggested that they let the authorities know so the offender may be removed from his current job. In some cases, Legarda said sextortionists may face disbarment or removal of medical license.

Dr. Norietta Balderrama, for her part, stressed that the government should come up with clear rules to lessen instances of sextortion in the country.