- According to recent reports from the New York Post, a 16-year-old girl in the United Kingdom was recently “virtually raped” in the metaverse
- The girl was playing an immersive game via a virtual reality headset when a gang of males allegedly ambushed her and sexually assaulted her game avatar.
- While some experts argue otherwise, others say that virtual reality crimes are not comparable to real-life crimes.
- The metaverse game is believed to be Horizon Worlds, and Meta (its parent company) has condemned the attack.
The metaverse is one of the most exciting applications of blockchain, AR and VR technology out there, as it offers new possibilities for trade, socialization, education, and entertainment.
However, there are times when this niche takes a dark turn and becomes one of the most sinister forms of technology out there.
A good example is the report of how a 16-year-old girl in the United Kingdom became the victim of a shocking virtual reality crime.
16-Year-Old Girl Virtually Gang-Raped By Strangers
According to reports from the New York Post, the 16-year-old girl in question was allegedly gang-raped by a group of strangers in an online game.
According to reports, the girl was playing an immersive game in the “metaverse,” via a virtual reality headset.
Things soon went out of hand when a gang of males allegedly ambushed her and sexually assaulted her avatar (or her virtual image in the game).
Reports state that although the girl was not physically harmed, the incident left her traumatized, according to a senior officer assigned to the case. The girl, he said, experienced the same psychological pain as someone who was actually raped.
The game the girl was playing, and how the assailants got past the game’s security measures have been kept secret to protect the girl’s identity, but the case has been described as presenting “a number of challenges for law enforcement given current legislation”.
How The Police Got Involved In Metaverse
Because the police and prosecutors are already dealing with a huge backlog of rape cases, the current case raises the question:
Are virtual reality crimes the same as actual crimes? If they are (or aren’t), should they be taken as severely as real-life crimes?
The child experienced “sexual trauma,” according to UK Home Secretary James Cleverly, who supported the probe.
“It is simple to write this off as unreal, but the whole idea of these virtual worlds is that they are so immersive,” he told the LBC. “Someone who is willing to put a child through a trauma like that digitally may well be someone that could go on to do terrible things in the physical realm,“
However, what is interesting is how different cases have different perspectives.
Some experts and commentators have argued that virtual reality crimes are not comparable to real-life crimes, as they do not involve physical contact or consent issues.
They have also suggested that the victims of virtual reality crimes may need psychological support rather than legal action.
Meta Reacts To The Incident
It is generally believed that the girl was playing Horizon Worlds, a free virtual reality game run by Meta, Facebook’s parent company.
The game, which has been called a “social metaverse,” lets players build and explore virtual environments with other players.
In a statement, Meta said that the attackers’ actions were unacceptable and that they had no place on its platform.
The company also said that it has a built-in safety function called a personal barrier that automatically maintains a few feet between you and strangers. The firm does not say whether it has taken any action against the attackers or how they were able to circumvent this protection.
In summary, Meta has come under fire in the past, for how it has handled other instances of virtual sex crimes, such as harassment and groping, on its platform.
Some customers have complained that the corporation has not offered enough help in incidents in which they were sexually attacked or mistreated by other users while playing VR games.
Meta, however, maintains that it is working on enhancing the reporting and safety features for its VR customers.
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