Legal expert calls for upskirting bill to cover all kinds of image-based sex crime

Legal expert calls for upskirting bill to cover all kinds of image-based sex crime

Upskirting campaigner Gina Martin and her lawyer Ryan Whelan

Thursday, June 21, 2018

A legal expert specialising in sexual violence and pornography laws says the upskirting bill should be amended to include all image-based forms of sexual harassment.

Professor Clare McGlynn of Durham University welcomed the news that the government would introduce legislation to make upskirting - the practice of taking photos underneath a woman’s skirt without her consent - illegal, after a private members’ bill was blocked by Sir Christopher Chope.

The upskirting bill will be introduced to parliament today (June 21), after a campaign of almost a year by Gina Martin (pictured above with her lawyer Ryan Whelan) who experienced upskirting at a music festival.

Prof. McGlynn said that the proposed legislation needed expanding to protect victims of other offences like revenge porn, where intimate images are distributed without the subject’s consent, or ‘fakeporn’, where a person’s face is superimposed onto pornographic content.

Listen to Clare McGlynn talking to Jamie East above

"What I’m really hoping is that it provides an opportunity to change the law that it will cover these altered or photoshopped images, that’s because they can cause as much real harm as any other sexual images shared without consent," she told talkRADIO.

"It’s about modernising our law to keep pace with changing technology.

"I wrote to the government with a colleague two years ago to say the law should be changed around photoshopping, and they said they didn’t think the harm was so great. But what we know from hearing from victims is that it is as harmful."

Writing a blog on Huffpost, she explained the discrepancies in the current law.

“[The] right to anonymity does not extend to victims of other forms of image-based sexual abuse, such as ‘revenge porn’.

“So, if a perpetrator takes an ‘upskirt’ image without consent, you are entitled to anonymity. But if, without your consent, someone hacks your iCloud and distributes an intimate image of you, or shares a sexual image you sent them – you have no automatic right to anonymity,” she wrote.

Prof. McGlynn added that current laws have several criteria that images must meet before they’re classed as sexual. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 states someone must be observed without their consent performing a “private act” and the images must be seen by a third party and distributed for sexual gratification.

“If… he took the image to make money – for example selling images to a website or another person – no criminal offence would be made out. No, it doesn’t make sense,” she wrote.

The bill to make upskirting illegal was tabled by Wera Hobhouse MP, the Liberal Democrat representative for Bath, but blocked by Chope.

‘Knicker bunting’ was hung over his office doors in parliament and in his constituency in protest, but he defended his actions, saying he objected to bills being passed without proper debate.

"It's defamatory of my character and it's very depressing some of my colleagues have been perpetuating that in the past 48 hours," he told the Bournemouth Echo, adding that he found upskirting itself "vulgar, humiliating and unacceptable".