Sexual assault in Metaverse .. How can harassment or rape occur in virtual reality?

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A foreign researcher talked about being sexually assaulted in the Metaverse while studying the behavior of people on the platform; Where she was invited to a private party in Meta’s virtual reality space, and there she was raped, and she said that she felt her glasses vibrate in the real world, and she felt that she had a disturbing experience after what her virtual character had been exposed to… But how can harassment or rape happen? In virtual reality?

Sexual assault in metaverse

The non-profit organization SumOfUs, which seeks to reduce the power and influence of large companies, said that one of its researchers was sexually assaulted in Metaverse on the Meta social networking platform Horizon, about an hour after using the virtual reality platform.

According to the organization; The researcher was invited to a private party, was taken to a room and asked to adjust the settings, after which she was raped by a user, while other users watched her from the window, and another user in the room watched the assault while holding a bottle of vodka.

Sexual assault in metaverse - avatar from Shutterstock<br>
Sexual assault in metaverse – Avatar from Shutterstock

The researcher, who entered the world of virtual reality to study the behavior of users, especially reports that talk about simulating verbal and sexual harassment there, said that she was quickly sexually assaulted on the platform, according to the British newspaper, The Independent .

“When another user touches you, the hand controllers vibrate, creating a very confusing and even disturbing physical experience during a virtual attack,” she said.

SumOfUs researchers also reported experiencing racial insults at Horizon World, and also said they witnessed gun violence on the platform.

How can harassment or rape happen in virtual reality?

The reason for the sexual assault, according to the organization, and according to what a representative from Meta told the British Daily Mail , is to cancel a feature that prevents anyone from approaching virtual characters, a feature that the company recently added and known as “Personal Boundary”.

Previous assault and metafires settings

In December 2021, a researcher and psychiatrist named Nina Jane Patel, who was researching Metaverse, wrote a post about the same thing, calling the assaults “the surreal nightmare of gang rape in Horizon Venues.”

Sexual assault in metaverse - avatar from Shutterstock<br>
Sexual assault in metaverse – Avatar from Shutterstock

She also talked about being subjected to verbal and sexual harassment 60 seconds after entering, by 4 male avatars, and they also took pictures of her.

In the same month, The New York Times reported that a female player was shot at by a male player, who also recorded his voice to insult and provoke her.

Then; Meta has added a Personal Boundary mode to its virtual reality platforms.

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