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School of Law

Zoe Asser


PhD Student



Thesis title

The enforcement of image based sexual abuse regulation in the UK and South Korea


Professor Julia Hörnle and Professor Valsalmis Mitsilegas

Summary of research

In recent years, there has been a global effort to regulate image based sexual abuse online, through the introduction of legislation and regulatory mechanisms. Despite regulation, there continues to be low levels of enforcement and reporting. Victims continually face legal, technological and societal barriers, which both deter them from reporting crimes and prevent enforcement. In 2020, there has been a significant increase in cases due to the dependence on online technology and platforms, as a result of the coronavirus. The current systems in place globally have significantly failed at helping victims to detect, report and criminalise the publication, sharing and monetisation of private sexual images and videos. South Korea has historically struggled to legislate image based sexual abuse, with the recent Nth room and Jung Joon-Young scandals emphasising the restrictions in legislation and the difficulties in enforcement. A similar issue has arisen in the UK, with the current legislation unable to keep up with quickly developing technology online.

This thesis explores how legal, societal and technological barriers impact the enforcement of image based sexual abuse in the UK and South Korea. It explores this prolific issue in two opposing cultures with varying technological advancements, to determine the global barriers to enforcement. Through qualitative research and assessment of legislation and case law in the UK and South Korea, it aims to suggest reformations to better protect the rights of women online.


After completing an LLB at the University of Bristol in 2018, I started a LLM in Transnational Law at Kings College London, focussing on transnational human rights. I worked as a paralegal for a few months, working closely with domestic violence victims and those requiring legal aid before commencing my PhD at Queen Mary.


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