Social media misuse and social work in Guyana

By Dionne Frank

Just over six weeks ago, Guyanese were captivated by the circulation of a series of videos on social media platforms showing a young lady, who despite appearing to withdraw her consent continued to be sexually abused by two men. Days later, the main perpetrator’s body was discovered on the Kitty foreshore. These events evoked outrage as well as apathy in some quarters. Conversely, much of the discussions and debates focused on the character and age of the victim, the nature of the sexual encounter, and the subsequent demise of the main perpetrator. Citizens also used social media to promote the main perpetrator’s death (be it by suicide or homicide) as a justifiable form of punishment, and a deterrent for others who demonstrate a proclivity for sexual depravity.

Apart from the nature of the abuse and the irresponsible comments about the victim’s character, what stood out for me during this period was the observation of people, inclusive of many professionals requesting of and/or encouraging social media personalities to share the videos. Clearly, no thought was given for the wellbeing of the victim or the implications enshrined in the Cybercrime Act for anyone who transmits child pornography. I was also taken aback by the lack of tact and ethical judgment, and the insensitivity evident in the indiscrete requests for access to the videos. These ethical concerns, however, collectively constitute a microcosm of a larger challenge confronting various professions with the evolution of social media…..

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