Police in Spain have launched an investigation after images of young girls, altered with artificial intelligence to remove their clothing, were sent around a town in the south of the country.
A group of mothers from Almendralejo, in the Extremadura region, reported that their daughters had received images of themselves in which they appeared to be naked.
One of the mothers, Miriam Al Adib, used a video published on her verified Instagram account to raise awareness about the situation.
She recounts how one of her daughters told her that someone had used an app to make an image of her in which she appeared to be naked, and that she had since found out that the same thing had happened to dozens more girls.
Addressing those responsible, Al Adib said: “You don’t appreciate the damage you have done.”
Francisco Mendoza, a regional government official, told local public media outlet Canal Extremadura that police have identified some of the young people that could be involved in producing the images.
On Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the high court of justice in Extremadura told CNN that a police investigation is ongoing.
Spain’s national police did not respond to requests for comment.
Al Adib called on those responsible to cooperate in fixing the issue, and said there was concern that the images could be uploaded to pornographic sites.
“Using other peoples’ photos for this kind of atrocity and sending them around is a very serious crime,” she wrote in the caption.
On Monday, Pilar Porrón, the mother of another one of the girls, told Canal Extremadura that her daughter found out from one of her friends that she had appeared in a naked photo.
Fátima Gomez, another mother, told the channel that one boy tried to extort her daughter using a doctored image.
She said her daughter had showed her a conversation with the boy in which he asked her to send him money, and when her daughter refused, the boy sent her a manipulated image of her naked.
According to the outlet, the images were made using an app which uses artificial intelligence to produce images of people without any clothes on.
Mayor of Almendralejo José María Ramírez said that the incident “is another case of gender-based violence.”
And María Guardiola, head of the Extremadura regional government, condemned the “disgusting incident” in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“Digital violence against women is a scourge that is on the rise,” wrote Guardiola.
The incident comes as Spain is facing a reckoning over sexual assault and gender based violence after Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish soccer federation, was accused of kissing Women’s World Cup winner Jennifer Hermoso without consent.
Rubiales resigned from his position on September 10 following weeks of fierce criticism. He denies the allegations against him.
The kiss on Hermoso came after the Spanish team’s victory in the Women’s World Cup final on August 20, and sparked condemnation in Spain and across the world.
The 46-year-old previously apologized and described the kiss as “mutual” – a claim Hermoso denied, saying she did not consent and was not respected.
There was also further uproar on September 14 as police arrested a man on suspicion of sexual assault after he appeared to touch a TV journalist on the bottom as she was reporting live from the streets of Madrid.