Sextortion as defined by the IAWJ is “a form of sexual exploitation and corruption that occurs when people in positions of authority … seek to extort sexual favours in exchange for something within their power to grant or withhold. In effect, sextortion is a form of corruption in which sex, rather than money, is the currency of the bribe.” According to the IAWJ, “Sextortion is a global phenomenon that has a devastating impact on women and other vulnerable persons. It touches almost every sector, thwarting access to government services, education, employment, justice, and the marketplace. Sextortion not only causes great individual harm, but, like other forms of corruption, has far-reaching implications for gender equity, democratic governance, economic development, and peace and stability.”
While there is growing international recognition of sextortion, significant legal reform is required to address the full scope of the conduct. Sextortion may fall under existing anti-corruption frameworks if the definition of ‘benefit’ in relation to a corrupt transaction is sufficiently broad. However, further research is required to establish whether this is the most effective avenue through which to pursue sextortion claims.
The IBA LPRU are leading a Working Group based research project on sextortion, looking at how existing anti-corruption frameworks do and do not adequately regulate sextortion. The ultimate outcome of this project will be a report providing recommendations for law reform. Sextortion is a blind spot in the otherwise improved focus on anti-corruption initiatives and aligns with greater global awareness of sexual harassment and sex within power imbalances.
The main aims of the project are to:
- Establish whether definitions of ‘benefit’ under anti-corruption frameworks are broad enough to encompass sextortion and the extent to which sextortion claims are successfully brought under this framework;
- Identify barriers to addressing sextortion through existing legal frameworks;
- Develop recommendations on how to address the full scope of sextortion through legal frameworks; and
- Promote an awareness of sextortion and the legal issues relevant to it.
Working Group Members
- Ngozika Okaisabor, Chair (Chair), Communications Officer, Judges’ Forum
- Sarah Hutchinson, Secretary-Treasurer, Section on Public and Professional Interest
- Isabel Bueno, Chair, Women Lawyers Interest Group
- Hannah Laming, Regional Representative Europe, Business Crime Committee
- Neelim Sultan, Chair, Human Rights Law Committee
- Sonia de Vries, Baker & Makenzie
- Nancy Hendry (Advisory Role), International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ)
- Rasmus Wandall (Advisory Role), International Association of Prosecutors (IAP)
- Kieran Pender, Legal Advisor, LPRU; Project Lead
- Luz Nagle, Co-Chair, IBA Crimes against Women Subcommittee