Revenge porn victim calls for perpetrators to be put on offenders list

Bill banning ‘revenge porn’ and ‘upskirting’ will also deal with harmful communication

The Bill provides for new offences dealing with non-consensual distribution of intimate images with intent to cause harm or distress, more commonly known as “revenge pornography”.  Photograph: Getty Images

The Bill provides for new offences dealing with non-consensual distribution of intimate images with intent to cause harm or distress, more commonly known as “revenge pornography”. Photograph: Getty Images

 

A victim of revenge porn is calling for perpetrators to be put on an offenders list.

The woman, known as Jane, told RTÉ radio’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show that proposed legislation is “a step in the right direction,” but that a fine is not going to have an impact on the perpetrator’s life going forward while the victim has to cope for the remainder of their life.

At present there is no legislation in Ireland to deal with revenge pornography, “up skirting” and “down blousing” where images are taken and shared without the consent of the featured person.

A new Bill banning so-called “revenge pornography” and “upskirting” is set to be agreed by Cabinet on Wednesday. The proposed new law will also deal with harassment and harmful communications.

Lasting effects

The Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, will seek Government approval to amend previous laws, which would also expand the definition of “communications” to include all online contacts such as, for example, an iMessage, WhatsApp or Facebook message amongst others.

The Bill provides for new offences dealing with non-consensual distribution of intimate images with intent to cause harm or distress, more commonly known as “revenge pornography”.

Jane said that in her case gardaí­ had not been able to act because of the absence of legislation. Three years ago she found out that her ex boyfriend had uploaded intimate images she had not known about to a porn website.

“It is not acceptable the lasting effects this has had on me. I don’t trust men and I don’t trust the internet. I only trust men I knew before this.”

Noeline Blackwell of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre said that the proposed legislation is an important step forward. “Some people think it’s funny, it’s not funny and it is harmful. Some do it maliciously with no regard for the other person.”

Ancient

She pointed out that in Scotland legislation addressing this issue has been in place for nine years where perpetrators can be sent to jail for five years.

“There needs to be sanctions so it shows that the State takes this seriously.”

Labour party leader Brendan Howlin, who drafted the proposed legislation based on the 2016 report of the Law Reform Commission, said that the current law is “ancient” and needs to be updated to reflect the reality of people’s live nowadays.

He acknowledged the support of Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan who accepted the proposed Bill. “This is something that I’m determined could be enacted by the summer.

“These are not small matters. There’s a huge well of hurt going on online, some people have even been driven towards suicide.”