UK’s Revenge Porn Law will Jail Violators for Two Years

PrisonFenceLONDON – Though at least two provisions of current UK law outlaw, by implication, the dissemination of so-called “revenge porn,” the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill currently wending its way through the halls of Parliament contains a provision that will make the prohibition specific. The bill is expected to pass without objection.

Two years in jail await those who post, without permission, “photographs or films which show people engaged in sexual activity or depicted in a sexual way or with their genitals exposed, where what is shown would not usually be seen in public.” The prohibition applies to social networks and other websites, text messages, email and physical distribution.

“We want those who fall victim to this type of disgusting behaviour to know that we are on their side,” according to a prepared statement from Justice Secretary Chris Grayling. “The fact that there are individuals who are cruelly distributing intimate pictures of their former partners without their consent is almost beyond belief.”

Women are the most common victims of revenge porn; consequently, women’s charities in the UK have pushed for the legislation. The organizations liken revenge porn to domestic abuse.

“This type of behaviour can be extremely distressing for its victims, causing them significant psychological harm,” Adam Pemberton, assistant chief executive for Victim Support, noted in a statement. “We are pleased that people who commit these gross violations of privacy will now face prosecution, and victims of revenge porn know they have the full backing of the law.”

Pemberton pointed out that revenge porn victims often face extreme difficulty in removing their images from websites and social media without court action. Even then, forcing removal of the images often is unsuccessful because many revenge porn websites are located outside the UK.

While UK law will have little effect on foreign individuals and sites, lawmakers nonetheless feel a specific effort to address the problem domestically will not go to waste.

“Circulating intimate photos of an individual without their consent is never acceptable,” Minister for Women and Equality Nicky Morgan said. “People are entitled to expect a reasonable level of respect and privacy.

“It is right that those who do circulate these images are held to account, and that we educate young people to the hurt that can be caused by breaking this trust,” she added.

Police in eight jurisdictions in England and Wales reported a combined total of 149 complaints about revenge porn during the past 30 months. Only six incidents resulted in official action.

 

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