Outdated revenge porn laws ‘gambling with people’s lives’

The report called current laws 'out-of-date'

Monday, July 1, 2019

The government is failing to protect women from image-based sexual abuse such as revenge porn, according to a report delivered to MPs today.

The report said advances in technology have outpaced changing laws, and are leaving victims in limbo.

Durham University law professor Clare McGlynn co-authored the 'Shattered Lives and Myths' report, and said without specific laws the government is “effectively gambling with people's lives”.

“We found that image-based sexual abuse can shatter lives, often experienced as an entire 'social rupture' of their world,” she said.

“We need a comprehensive new law criminalising all forms of non-consensual taking or sharing of sexual images, including threats and altered images.”

The sharing of private or sexual images or video without consent became an offence in England and Wales in 2015.

But victims are not granted automatic anonymity like under other sexual offences laws, meaning victims may have their life made worse by being identified on social media.

A recent issue facing lawmakers is fake porn, where a victim’s face is grafted onto someone else’s body.

The offence is not currently covered by a specific law, meaning police may struggle to get justice for the victim.

The Ministry of Justice said perpetrators can be charged under voyeurism laws, but there are no known prosecutions for fake porn in the UK.

A teenager who had fake images of her shared online by a former boyfriend said police told her there was little they could do to charge him with a crime.

Sarah, who has used a pseudonym, said she was “mortified”.

“The police were really good, but he [the police officer] admitted he didn't really know what crime had been committed. He spoke to my ex and, thankfully, that was the end of it,” she said.

“But, for a short while, if you Googled me you would see my Facebook account, some hobbies of mine, and then my porn profile page.”

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