After the revelation that an undercover policeman had sexual relations with several women during the seven years that he spent undercover, infiltrating an activist group, female activists are demanding information from Scotland Yard, so that they can determine whether they were sexually exploited by a British spy. Although, as one would expect, sleeping with activists during these investigations was prohibited, a former agent said that this kind of behavior was not just tolerated, it was a deliberate tactic.
The agent explained that sex was used as a tool to blend in, and also used to gather intelligence. And while falling in love was viewed as unprofessional, having sex with a large number of activists was seen as “part of the job.”
“Everybody knew it was a very promiscuous lifestyle,” said the former agent. “You cannot not be promiscuous in those groups. Otherwise you’ll stand out straightaway.”
The women in these groups quite understandably want to know whether they were one of the women who was used to gain intelligence, in addition to their righteous anger at being potentially exploited.
One environmental activist explained, “There may be dozens of other women who might be affected by this, who have [unknowingly] had relationships with other undercover officers. It is unacceptable. A picture is starting to emerge of state-endorsed sexual manipulation.”
The way that the British government deals with operations to monitor climate change activists has already been criticized, and this just adds more fuel to the fire. Although it’s unclear whether this kind of sexual activity can be considered sexual assault, it’s certainly unethical, unprofessional, and a serious form of exploitation, and should be censured by the British government. The real question is whether the police should release the names of the officers who were undercover in these groups. What do you think?
Photo from Flickr, via Everydaystockphoto.com.