Man charged over slut shaming, harassment of Sydney woman for her Tinder profile

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Jenny Noyes

The slut-shaming Facebook post that led to Olivia and her friends receiving rape threats.

The slut-shaming Facebook post that led to Olivia and her friends receiving rape threats.

In a win for women fighting online harassment, police in Sydney have charged a 25-year-old man after he allegedly sent rape threats to women defending their friend from slut shaming on social media.

The harassment and shaming of Sydney woman Olivia Melville began when a screen shot of her Tinder profile was shared by strangers on Facebook in August. Her profile included a line from Drake's verse in Nicki Minaj's song Only, which attracted offensive and derogatory comments on Facebook (mostly from people who didn't get the reference).

When a mutual friend of Melville and Chris Hall (who posted the screen shot) saw what was going on, she intervened. And that's when she and her friends allegedly began receiving rape and death threats. 

I want to take a moment to talk about sexual violence and harassment.Today a friend of mine became aware that someone...

Posted by Paloma Brierley Newton on  Monday, August 24, 2015
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The women targeted by the abuse took the matter to the police, who initially "were unsure of procedure surrounding online harassment and offered little support to our case" - so they started a petition and the Facebook group Sexual Violence Won't Be Silenced to campaign for authorities to treat online sexual harassment and violence seriously.

The petition gathered more than 15,000 signatures, and on Monday night, the group posted that 25-year-old Zane Alchin has been charged with using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence.

A statement posted on the group's Facebook has thanked the public for supporting the campaign, and police for following it up. 

"Thanks to the swift public response to the advocacy group we had a tally of over 8,000 Facebook followers and over 15,000 signatures on their petition that aims to change the way law enforcement responds to these threats.

"SVWBS would like to thank the Newtown Local police for their hard work on this case, and the Australian media (and international media) for covering the case. They also thank every person who signed the petition, followed the page and supported the movement."

The group also acknowledged that the case is now in the hands of the NSW justice system, and pledged to continue to advocate on behalf of others who have been victimised by online harassers. 

"Not every person who experiences online violence has the time, resources or support network to start a campaign after being harassed. That's why, regardless of the outcome of this legal case, SVWBS will continue to fight for better laws, training and education surrounding online harassment."