CASE STUDYProtecting victims of sextortion worldwide
Sextortion’ is a pervasive, yet under-reported, form of corruption involving
sexual exploitation, such as: judges demanding sex in exchange for visas or
favourable custody decisions; landlords threatening to evict tenants unless
they have sex with them; supervisors making job security contingent on sex;
and principals conditioning student graduation on sex. Today the crime has
become digital, and women, as well as children, are especially vulnerable.
In 2015, in collaboration with the International Association of Women
Judges (IAWJ) and a global team of law firms (Marval, O’Farrell and Mairal,
Hogan Lovells, Mishcon De Reya, Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa,
Simba & Simba Advocates, Torys LLP and Rakhee Ditta), we launched the
guide ‘Combating Sextortion: A Comparative Study of Laws to Prosecute
Corruption Involving Sexual Exploitation’. The study outlined laws and
practices relating to the crime in nine jurisdictions, spanning six continents:
Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Kenya, Mexico, Taiwan, Uganda and
the United Kingdom.
In 2016, together with Legal Momentum and law firm Orrick, Herrington &
Sutcliffe, we produced a report entitled ‘A Call to Action: Ending ‘Sextortion’
in the Digital Age’, taking a more specific look at the United States and at
how sextortion has evolved.
Following the publication of the research, Legal Momentum and Orrick
embarked on a nation-wide advocacy campaign to update state laws to take
into account ‘sextortion’. Within a few months, Utah, Arkansas and Alabama
had passed the first pieces of legislation in the US which make ‘sextortion’ a
The Thomson Reuters Foundation has been instrumental in helping us launch and sustain cutting-edge
projects that protect the rights of girls and women both nationally and internationally.
President and CEO, Legal Momentum