11. March 2020

Shining a light on sextortion – insights from behavioural research on non-monetary corruption

Women puts up hand towards beam of light

In its new report on Breaking the Silence around Sextortion, Transparency International references our work on the recent evolvement of the anti-corruption field towards “documenting and recognising non-monetary forms of corruption”.
This comprehensive understanding of corruption dynamics is at the centre of our research on behavioural influences on attitudes towards petty corruption in Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. The research was commissioned by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), through its East Africa Research Fund (EARF).
Sextortion is a pervasive and transversal theme in all three country case studies. The research shows that women as a social group are particularly vulnerable to corruption. For example, access to public services is sometimes exchanged for sexual favours in an extortive manner.
This topic deserves special attention. Sextortion is clearly different from monetary forms of corruption, so we need very specific approaches to eradicate it.
In the report we propose two approaches:

  • Raise the costs of soliciting or accepting sexual favours on the part of male public officials. By costs, we mean both criminal sanctions and social shaming.
  • Establish safe whistleblower mechanisms for women to denounce unwanted sexual advances. Linking these to a strong, positive female role model would help.

We join Transparency International in the call for better data collection and more research on the scale, patterns and impacts of sextortion.

Let's bring light to the dark world of sextortion to help the victims escape the cycle of this particularly damaging type of corruption – and prevent other vulnerable women being caught in the same traps.

Learn more

Saba Kassa

Senior Specialist / Deputy Head, Prevention, Research and Innovation
+41 61 205 55 11