revenge-porn

Campaigners want government action on revenge porn

Diane Shipley Trending Leave a Comment

Politicans and campaign groups are calling for new legislation to crack down on revenge porn, the practice of posting naked and/or sexually explicit images (whether real or photoshopped) of someone else online, usually after a break-up.

Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert raised the issue in the House of Commons and now two members of the House of Lords, Lord Marks and Baroness Grender, have put forward an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill which would make publishing this kind of content punishable by a prison sentence of up to a year. Asked about the bill in parliament by fellow Conservative MP Maria Miller, the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said that revenge porn is an increasing problem in the UK, and suggested that the government was open to changing the law, perhaps as soon as later this year.

But domestic violence campaigners said that revenge porn and threats to post explicit images are forms of psychological control, which is commonly found in abusive relationships, and that more needs to be done to tackle domestic abuse as a whole. The chief executive of Women’s Aid Polly Neate told the BBC, ‘That control is central to domestic violence, which is why we’re campaigning for all psychological abuse and coercive control to be criminalised. We urge Mr Grayling and the Home Office to go further, and ensure victims can get the support of the criminal justice system for all the abuse they experience.’

However, not everyone agrees a change in the law is necessary: there is existing anti-harrassment legislation, which says images shouldn’t be used to intentionally cause distress, so the issue may be more a problem of implementation. Meanwhile, free speech campaign Article 19 paints the problem as just part of a break-up that should be handled in civil court instead.

Of course, no one should have private content shared online against their will, and the victims of this kind of behaviour understandably feel violated (that’s the whole idea). But whether or not there’s a change in the law, there definitely needs to be a change in attitudes. Revenge porn rests on the idea that a woman being naked or having sex is something secretive and shameful, rather than something most people do at some point. Revenge porn deserves our contempt, but the people affected don’t deserve our disgust.

Image via C X 2’s Flickr.

By Diane Shipley | July 3rd, 2014