Irish Law and Urgent Image-Based Sexual Abuse Reforms

Urgent action is needed in Ireland to introduce a specific law criminalising image-based sexual abuse. Legislation is currently being debated, though improvements are needed to ensure all forms of non-consensual taking or sharing of intimate images are covered. My suggestions and recommendations were submitted to Justice and Equality Committee of the Oireachtas, the Irish Parliament, in October 2019.

New research from Women’s Aid Ireland on Intimate Relationship Abuse, including image-based sexual abuse, is shining a light on these problems and the urgent need for reform. I am pleased to share my research and suggestions at their webinar in November 2020.

These draw on my research with colleagues in the report Shattering Lives and Myths on the extent and impacts of image-based sexual abuse, and my research on Irish law with Prof Erika Rackley published in the Irish Probation Journal. The article suggests that the recommendations of the Irish Law Reform Commission are a positive start to debates, though any new law needs to focus on these harms as forms of sexual abuse, not just as privacy issues. Available here.

dublin-lecture-oct-2016-2This focus on Irish law developed from the plenary lecture I gave on Friday 7th October 2016 at the annual conference of the Irish Association of Criminal Justice Research & Development conference. The theme of the conference was Cybercrime and my lecture welcomed the recently published Irish Law Commission report on Harmful Communications & Digital Safety. Drawing on my research with Erika Rackley, the lecture challenged the report’s claim that non-consensual sharing of private, sexual images was not a form of ‘sexual offence’. Our work suggests that the terminology of ‘image-based sexual abuse’ better captures the nature and harms of this form of abuse: terminology matters as it shapes our legislative, political and educational responses.

For more on the concept of image-based sexual abuse: see research briefing:

My presentation is available here:dublin-mcglynn-final-october-2016-cleanpdf

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