The British police in a Daily Mail report on January 2, are investigating alleged virtual reality case of a gang-rape in a Metaverse game after a female teenager was sexually attacked by avatars representing several men.
- UK police for the first time has launched an investigation on a virtual reality rape case.
- The Victim who is a teenager under 16, was said to have been traumatised after her avatar was gang raped in a Horizon World.
- This action by the police has been criticized stating that the police have limited time to tackle real life cases.
Teenage girl avatar gang raped
A teenage girl, allegedly under 16 years was said to have been left distraught after her avatar was gang-raped by a group of online strangers while using a Virtual Reality VR headset to play a game in the Metaverse.
Though the victim did not experience any physical harm, the police sources says the impact is comparable to a real life rape victim, and as such should be treated seriously by the law enforcement.
“This child experienced psychological trauma similar to that of someone who has been physically raped. There is an emotional and psychological impact on the victim that is longer term than any physical injuries,”
a senior officer told the Daily Mail.
This is the first time in the UK that a virtual sexual offence has been investigated by police.
Meanwhile further detail about the case has been kept confidential for the safety of the child due to concerns that pursuing the case under existing legal laws for the online assault which define sexual assault as non-consensual “physical touching” in a sexual manner may prove impossible.
However, the investigation has questioned whether the police should allocate their limited time and resources to investigate metaverse crimes.
Nevertheless, James Cleverly, UK Home Secretary agreed with the ongoing investigation saying “Somebody who is willing to put a child through trauma like that digitally may well be someone that could go on to do terrible things in the physical realm.”
“I know it is easy to dismiss this as being not real, but the whole point of these virtual environments is they are incredibly immersive,” Cleverly told LBC. “it will have had a very significant psychological effect and we should be very, very careful about being dismissive of this” he added.
Donna Jones, chairman of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners highlighted that women and children deserve greater protection. “We need to update our laws because they have not kept pace with the risks of harm that are developing from artificial intelligence and offending on platforms like the metaverse. The Government needs to look at changing the law to protect women and children from harm in these virtual environments.”
In a similar case, Nina Jane Patel in 2022, reported that within 60 seconds of her joining the virtual world, three or four male avatars “virtually gang-raped” her avatar and took photos of the same on Meta’s metaverse, Horizon venues and has described it as a surreal nightmare.