Lebanon..Women and minors caught in the “crime of the age” trap

Electronic blackmail is one of the crimes that have multiplied in Lebanon in recent years due to the Corona pandemic and quarantine, as many are threatened with exposing their private conversations and photos with others.

Lebanese law describes extortion as a crime, through which “threatens to publish photos or videos of the victim with the aim of obtaining money, or pushing the victim to do illegal acts.”

According to Article 650 of the Penal Code, “Anyone who threatens another person with revealing something that undermines his honor, dignity, or respect, shall be punished with imprisonment from two months to two years, and a fine.”

In Lebanon, the security forces are again requesting activists on social media to be careful before communicating with any stranger, and not to underestimate sending pictures to anyone, and to report immediately in the event of extortion.

crime of the age

“We can save more than 20 victims by reporting one blackmailer,” an official source in the Internal Security Forces confirmed in an interview with Sky News Arabia.

The source added that “the percentage of complaints of extortion and harassment crimes affects a large segment of society, 80 percent of which are women, due to electronic rapprochement that reaches the point of sending personal pictures in sometimes inappropriate positions, or through hacking the page or personal account.”

The source added that “the category of girls aged between 12 and 14 years constitutes the largest proportion of the victims of extortion,” noting that “the security forces’ pursuit of extortionists usually succeeds and arrests the extortionist, especially if he is carrying out his act from inside Lebanon.”

And he added, “The success rate in prosecuting blackmailers in Lebanon is up to 100 percent, and in the event that it comes from outside Lebanon, cooperation with Interpol is required to catch the blackmailer in the trap.”

The source explained that “the purpose of extortion is often material, especially in this period, or sexual in order to control and exploit the victim, up to the threat of death or kidnapping.”

He described extortion as a “crime of the age”, especially since “the world lives most of its time on the Internet,” warning that extortion “leaves its negative effects on the girls who fall victim to it,” as 12 percent of the victims remain in their lives for a long time.

The source revealed the occurrence of suicides in Lebanon due to extortion, although the reasons were not announced, pointing out that “conservative societies are usually more vulnerable than others to electronic extortion.”

Sociology says its word

In the same context, social scientist Wadih al-Amouni said that extortion in the digital world is one of the most prominent criminal manifestations, which is practiced in light of the transformation of societies from real life to virtual life.

In her interview with Sky News Arabia, Amouni attributed the reason to “the exchange of pictures over the Internet and the poor awareness of parents about the digital world.”

And she continued: “Those who are subjected to blackmail suffer serious negative consequences on the psychological level, especially adolescents, and it is possible for the victim to carry out the same criminal behavior and blackmail as a counter-aggressive reaction.”

Victims’ complaints are necessary

Layal Jubran, executive director of the “Programmer” platform and an expert in digital security, said that “the solution is the victim’s rapid confession and filing of the complaint.”

She added to “Sky News Arabia”: “Electronic extortion takes place when one of them learns a dangerous or confidential information about the other, or because of money through electronic communication.”

And Jubran continued, “Often, the blackmailer is not detected if the victim does not file a complaint with the Anti-Cybercrime Office, and we encourage confession.”

She concluded her speech by saying: “Awareness campaigns must be carried out, especially after the crime of extortion increased as a result of the Corona pandemic, and electronic bullying is the fashion of the times, and awareness must start from schools and through society and parents.”

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