#UpskirtingBill: welcome start, more to be done

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.

Parliament is currently debating the Bill and considering amendments. My evidence to the Committee is available here  – with key recommendations being:

Executive Summary

  1. The Voyeurism Bill is a welcome first step towards a more comprehensive law that needs to close the gaps, resolve inconsistencies and modernise the law covering all forms of image-based sexual abuse;
  2. Recommend amendment to remove motive requirements;
  3. Recommend amendment to include distribution of ‘upskirt’ images/videos;
  4. Recommend extending notification requirements to cover all motives;
  5. Recommend strengthening existing voyeurism offence to cover all motives and remove inconsistencies;
  6. Notification requirements do not unnecessarily criminalise young people;
  7. Recommend comprehensive law covering all forms of image-based sexual abuse’; and
  8. ‘revenge porn’ is a sexual offence and anonymity should be extended to all complainants.

It is vital that we take the opportunity to remove the inconsistencies in this field – as explained in my blog in the Huff Post.

The Government’s steps are a positive response to public campaigning by Gina Martin and Wera Hobhouse MP to question the gaps in the law and argue for change.

This new Bill is a welcome first step towards a more comprehensive law tackling all forms of image-based sexual abuse, including threats and altered images.

The law needs to be strengthened to ensure it covers all forms of ‘upskirting’, as well as providing greater protection for victims of ‘revenge porn’ and other forms of abuse.

In May 2018, Erika Rackley and I wrote to the Secretary of State for Justice , to urge the Government to reform the law to protect victims of all forms of image-based sexual abuse, including ‘upskirting’. Our reform suggestions are also made in this short blog.

My research, together with Erika Rackley, argues that upskirting should be viewed is a form of image-based sexual abuse – together with other forms of this abuse such as ‘revenge porn’, sexual extortion, sexualised photoshopping and the like. The civil and criminal law need to be reformed to respond to these growing forms of abuse and we have made detailed recommendations in our briefing document and academic work.

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