Monday 16 July 2018

UK Government to make 'upskirting' a criminal offence

Perpetrators could face up to two years behind bars

Stock photo
Stock photo

Ryan Hooper

The UK Government pledging support to criminalise upskirting is seen as a crucial step in making the cruel craze illegal.

There are plenty of hurdles left to go but campaigners are cautiously optimistic.

Here is some reaction from experts and those close to the campaign:

Katie Ghose, chief executive of Women's Aid, said: "We welcome the Government taking decisive action to make upskirting a criminal offence. This form of abuse is painful and humiliating for victims and often has a devastating impact on all aspects of their lives.

"We hope that this new criminal offence will be another step forward in challenging the prevailing sexist attitudes and behaviours in our society that underpin violence against women and girls. Domestic abuse does not happen in a cultural vacuum.

"By condemning this form of abuse, we can send out the powerful message that upskirting is unacceptable and perpetrators of this crime will be held to account."

Clare McGlynn, professor of law at Durham University and an expert on sexual violence, said: "The criminalisation of upskirting announced on Friday is a welcome first step towards a more comprehensive law protecting victims of all forms of image-based sexual abuse, which also includes so-called revenge porn.

"We hope to work with the Government to strengthen what is proposed in order to provide a truly effective deterrent, looking at intent, anonymity for all victims, and at threats.

"We also need to ensure there are sustainable and effective support services for all victims."

Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon, who has regularly spoken in favour of the campaign to criminalise upskirting in Westminster, said: "Relentless pressure from campaigners has finally forced the Government to accept that specific legislation is needed to put an end to this intrusive, abusive and sexist practice.

"I am proud that Labour has backed this campaign from the outset and we will continue to support this legislation through Parliament to ensure that there is a strong majority against any reactionary attempts to derail this important step towards justice."

End Violence Against Women Coalition co-director Sarah Green said: "We welcome this announcement but also implore the Government - on a day when they make an announcement like this and say that protecting victims of sexual offences is a priority - to speak up on the horrific crisis around disclosure of evidence in rape cases, and the sluggish rape conviction rates when reporting is going through the roof.

"Our society's whole commitment to providing justice and support for women and men who've suffered sexual violence needs a root and branch review.

"Right now there is postcode lottery access to counselling and to a good police and courts response. This should be a Government priority when more survivors than ever are coming forward."

Lisa Hallgarten, head of policy and public affairs for Brook, the sexual health and wellbeing charity for young people, said: "Brook welcomes the Government's recognition of the seriousness of upskirting as a move towards tackling the widespread incidence of sexual harassment of women and girls.

"However, we know that the law alone is not enough and schools have a critical role in challenging harmful behaviours and practices by dealing with any issues promptly and in line with robust PSHE and safeguarding policies.

"In order to keep children and young people safe from harm we must teach them at the earliest opportunity to respect each other's privacy, to know their rights, and to understand issues around consent, coercion, and unwanted/unsafe touch."

Press Association

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