Sexual harassment in Metaverse? Humanity has done it again

Key Takeaways:

  • A British woman narrates her experience of a sexual harassment on the Metaverse
  • In particular, male users on Meta's Horizon Worlds harassed her virtual avatar
  • Women continue to be underrepresented in the tech industry, especially in leadership roles
A 43 year old British woman has narrated her horrible experinece of rape and sexual harassment in the Metaverse, where her avatar was abused.
Women face sexual harassment online, including in the Metaverse. Credit: Franziska Barczyk

YEREVAN (CoinChapter.com) – The Metaverse might not be as real as the physical world, but some practices have already made it there. As we grapple with cases of sexual harassment, rapes, and violence against women here, one would think the virtual world would provide an escape. Unfortunately, however, it is not half as near to that utopia. For example, a British woman has claimed she has faced sexual harassment in Metaverse. In particular, her virtual avatar was groped, molested, and verbally abused by a group of male avatars. 

43-year-old Nina Jane Patel was on Horizon Venues of Meta (formerly Facebook) when the incident took place. Launched in August 2020 by Meta, Horizon Worlds is an invite-only beta platform that allows users to explore and interact with the virtual world through a social VR application.

Patel is the co-founder and vice-president of the metaverse research and education platform Kabuni Ventures. She narrated her experience in a blog post on Medium.

“Within 60 seconds of joining, I was verbally and sexually harassed — 3–4 male avatars, with male voices, essentially, but virtually gang-raped my avatar and took photos,”

 she wrote.

However, sexual harassment was not the only shock in store for her. After narrating her experience, users trolled her online to raise her voice.

According to her critics, the Metaverse is not real, and nothing happened to her. Instead, users just played the victim’s blame card by advising her to solve the problem using a male avatar instead of a female one. So yes, the Metaverse is exactly like the physical world in such matters.

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Online sexual harassment is not new; the Metaverse is

The fact that a woman would face sexual harassment online is disgusting. However, it comes as no shock whatsoever. Women have been facing such violations online for quite some time now. 

According to a survey by Pew Research Center, 41% of U.S. adults have personally experienced some form of online harassment. The survey also indicated that 33% of women under 35 have been sexually harassed online. 

Women continue to face sexual harassment online on social media sites,. Even an avatar of a woman in the Metaverse is not safe.
Women continue to face sexual harassment online on social media sites. Credit: PEW Research Center

The atmosphere is not likely to change soon as women remain underrepresented in most tech companies. For example, the women workforce makes up only a little over 20% of tech jobs at Microsoft and Meta, according to a report by Zippia. The situation is also the same for other tech giants like Google and Apple. 

When it comes to leadership roles, less than 30% of leadership positions are women. Unfortunately, such an environment is not conducive to establishing a women-friendly atmosphere in the tech industry.

A 43 year old British woman has narrated her horrible experinece of rape and sexual harassment in the Metaverse, where her avatar was abused.
Women remain underrepresented in Tech. Credit: Zippia

Even though women hold 37% of entry-level tech roles, only 15% of CEOs in the tech industry are women. Unfortunately, that has resulted in the Metaverse becoming a platform for sexual violence. According to research conducted by the Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCD), users are increasingly carrying out virtual sexual harassment of other users.

“It was clear from the outset of our research that extreme sexual content is common in the metaverse, and that manifests as sexual violence, too,”

 Callum Hood, head of research at CCD told Vogue in an interview.

Patel is not the only one who has faced such sexual violence. As the Metaverse develops and we venture further into Web3.0, tech giants should address such issues. Who needs a new world with its old problems? 

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