Success: Wrongful Nude Photo Sharing Made Illegal

Target: James N. Mattis, Secretary of Defense

Goal: Praise the prohibition of online distribution of intimate images without consent under Marine and Navy Law.

Sharing nude photos of servicewomen on the Internet without their permission is now officially illegal under the U.S. Navy Regulations, the document that outlines lawful orders for Marine and Navy personnel. The recent update of the U.S. Navy Regulations comes after a secret Facebook group of current and former Marines was uncovered and called attention to the apparently long-standing practice of online photo sharing in all branches of the military. The nude photo scandal was the latest allegation of sexism, sexual harassment, and sexual violence in the military and sparked an enormous public outcry. ForceChange helped amplify these voices by posting this petition. Now, it is time to praise the recent decision to commit to the safety of servicewomen.

According to the updated provisions, a serviceperson will be considered in violation of military laws if they distribute an image with the intent of humiliating, harassing, or threatening the subject of the photo or with a reckless disregard that the individual in the picture would face humiliation, threats, or harassment. The decision allows commanders to hold service members accountable formally and to address an apparent unethical collaborative practice to shame servicewomen on websites. An investigation by the Pentagon revealed that U.S. military men would allegedly request pictures of specific women from each other and praised those who later got the images.

So far, 15 identified active-duty service members and 12 identified civilians can face felony-level charges. More people can be caught as the investigation continues. Though it is important to praise the U.S. military leadership for tackling the online photo sharing scheme, one should not forget that sexual harassment and sexual violence are pervasive in the U.S. military. There is still much room for improvement as statistics indicate that 1 in 5 female veterans admitted they had been the victims of military sexual trauma; 33% experienced rape or attempted rape, and up to 84% of women experienced sexual assault or harassment while on active military duty. Most cases of sexual harassment and sexual violence still go unreported, and retaliation against women who come forward is the norm. Therefore, sign the petition to express you acknowledge the progress but will not stop fighting until servicewomen are treated with total respect.


Dear James Mattis,

I appreciate your support to the update of U.S. Navy Regulations after revelations that U.S. military men were allegedly involved in a scheme to share nude photos of servicewomen. It is very significant that the leadership acknowledged a failure in anticipating that the problem of sexism in the military extended to online harassment and unethical online practices.

However, sexism and sexual harassment are pervasive in the U.S. military, and various allegations of sexual violence against women in duty require the implementation of far-reaching measures to address such a serious problem. I expect that you take the takedown of the online photo sharing scheme as the first step in the enforcement of a new culture of respect for women in the military.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Sgt. Angela Lorden

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One Comment

  1. Gen Lovyet Agustsson says:

    without permission is illegal!

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