British Police are currently investigating a case where a girl’s virtual reality (VR) avatar was allegedly gang-raped in a metaverse game, according to a report.
The 16-year-old girl was using a Virtual Reality (VR) headset in an immersive game when her avatar was allegedly assaulted by avatars representing several men, the Daily Mail reported.
While the victim did not experience physical harm, the emotional and psychological impact is being treated seriously by law enforcement, British officials said, as per the Daily Mail report.
UK Home Secretary James Cleverly has voiced support for the investigation, stressing the significance of the psychological trauma inflicted upon the girl and warning against underestimating the seriousness of such virtual acts.
“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,” he told LBC’s “Nick Ferrari at Breakfast” program.
“And we’re talking about a child here, and a child who has gone through sexual trauma. It had a very significant psychological effect, and we should be very, very careful about being dismissive of this,” he added.
POLICIES TO COMBAT ONLINE CRIMES
Ian Critchley from the National Police Chiefs’ Council highlighted the metaverse as a potential avenue for predators and stressed the importance of evolving policing strategies to combat online crimes. He also urged tech companies to enhance user safety measures.
The game in question, Horizon Worlds, is a product of Meta, formerly known as Facebook. Reports indicate that the platform has seen various instances of virtual sexual misconduct, yet no legal actions have been taken in the UK to date.
In a similar case, in 2022, a 43-year-old British woman alleged that she was verbally and sexually harassed on Meta’s metaverse, Horizon Venues. She said 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.
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