Upskirting – taking photos or videos up a woman’s skirt without her permission – is a form of image-based sexual abuse and should be criminalised. English law does not fully cover this activity and the law should be reformed by making it a sexual offence with the focus on victim’s experiences and not the motives of perpetrators.
Recent public debate, following FOI disclosures that there are few prosecutions, found that there is widespread support for a change in the law. In response to this new data, I said it showed there “are few public places where women are free from this abuse“, adding that “The Government’s continuing failure to provide an effective criminal law against upskirting breaches women’s human rights. We are entitled to protection from degrading and abusive treatment, whether offline or online – and we are entitled to have our privacy in public respected.”
Unfortunately, so far the Government has not agreed to changing the law. Together with Erika Rackley, I wrote to the Ministry of Justice in January 2018 setting out our recommendations for reform. The Government responded that they consider current laws to be sufficient and are keeping the issue under review.
This whole issue is back in the spotlight, thanks to the campaigning work of Gina Martin who has spoken out about her experience of upskirting. Wera Hobhouse MP is seeking to change the law and I’ve written a blog welcoming this proposal and hoping that the law can be changed to benefit victims of all forms of image-based sexual abuse.