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Gardaí launch investigation as thousands of sexually-explicit images allegedly shared online without consent

Director of the Rape Crisis Network Ireland said that she has heard thousands of sexually explicit images have been shared of Irish women without their consent


Photo: Stock Image

Photo: Stock Image

Photo: Stock Image

An online protest is being planned to campaign for law reform in Ireland on sexual abuse acts after thousands of explicit images were reportedly shared on online forums without consent.

People have been sharing their fury on social media after the ‘leak’ saw thousands of images and videos, mainly of Irish women, shared on various sites and forums.

It is believed these images have come from social media sites and apps including Snapchat, WhatsApp and OnlyFans.

The online protest is provisionally organised for November 28 and it will call on the government to bring in legislation that will further protect victims of image-based sexual abuse.

The law would protect those who have sexually explicit images or videos of them shared without their consent.

Today, statements will be heard on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence in the Dáil and a change in the current legislation will be looked at by the Oireachtas Justice Committee next month.

Cliona Sadlier, Executive Director of the Rape Crisis Network Ireland, explained that the sharing of explicit images without consent is currently a crime. However, they are calling for this legislation to be changed to allow further protection to the victim.

This legislation would allow victims to have their images taken down off sites immediately when they have identified that a crime has been committed against them.

“The key bit that this legislation is trying to put in place is what we call ‘the takedown mechanism’,” Ms Sadlier explained on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland.

“So it would give people the right that if they become aware of their image having been shared in this way that they can demand an immediate takedown and that there is a mechanism in place for that immediate takedown.

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“So, essentially your right to intervene when you know a crime has been committed against you.”

When asked if a crime has taken place with the sharing of these images, the Rape Crisis Network director said yes.

“The individual images were possibly taken with the consent of the woman and then have been shared and uploaded and consolidated into large folders and files,” she said.

“These are folders with thousands of images. So, it may well be that each of these images was taken with consent but as soon as these are shared outside they then become an abuse.

“It’s absolutely a form of abuse and consent is the key idea here.

“The minute they are passed on without consent it is now abuse and it is now something that moves into the area of a potential crime that can be investigated and prosecuted.”

An Garda Síochána is aware of the reports and the Assistant Commissioner (Organised & Serious Crime) has commenced probative enquires into the matter.

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