Victims await revenge porn ban vote

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Published: Monday 20th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Banning revenge porn will give victims more confidence of getting justice, campaigners have said ahead of a crucial vote to make the cruel craze illegal.

Revenge porn – when people publish sexually explicit pictures of former partners – is to be made a new offence punishable by up to two years in jail.

Distribution of a private sexual image of someone without their consent and with the intention of causing them distress will be made a specific offence in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill. It is to be debated in the House of Lords tonight.

It comes after figures uncovered by the Press Association showed children as young as 11 had been victims, while pop stars Tulisa and Rihanna have also been targeted.

Speaking ahead of the debate, victim Hannah Thompson, 21, said she was hopeful the law would give power to those who had sexually explicit images of them published without their consent.

The campaigner, from Surrey, said: ” I think there has already been a lot of high-profile cases, with everything that’s happened to celebrities recently. I hope it will act as a deterrent. My main hope is that it will leave victims feeling less helpless and alone and that it will give them a route to get justice.

“I can’t put it into words. It means a lot. I just hope that other victims are able to get justice when this happens and that they don’t feel ashamed of what happened to them.

“When I was younger I wasn’t taught about the potential for this to happen in school, I never realised it could happen to me.

“They need to be taught how devastating the consequences are. ”

The change covers the sharing of images both online and offline. It will mean that images posted to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter will be caught by the offence, as well as those that are shared via text message.

Images shared via email, on a website or the distribution of physical copies will also be caught.

Those convicted will face a maximum sentence of two years in prison.

The change in the law will be made via an amendment to the Bill, which includes a number of measures to toughen up sentencing.

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert said: ” There’s a huge problem worldwide with what’s known as revenge porn. The shame is huge, there have been cases of people quitting their jobs over it and suicide. It really is very serious, but to my surprise it is not necessarily illegal to do it.

“To me it’s about consent. People can send images of themselves with consent, that’s fine. But the idea that somebody else – who knows the person doesn’t agree to it – broadcasts those naked images around, that is simply not okay. We’ll make that illegal.”

The Lib Dem MP said the Bill could become law before Christmas.

He said: “That’s really good news for the victims. They will now be able to go to the people who have done this and say: this is now illegal.

“What I would like to see isn’t the convictions of people particularly, it is that people don’t do this, I want to stop the harm.

“I want them to think – if they are going to broadcast naked pictures of an ex, just to think again and to stop. We need to do much more, not just about the law but about educating people.”

Figures uncovered by the Press Association showed that schoolgirls were among those targeted, while adults had been blackmailed into having sex with their tormentor after indecent – and previously private – images were posted on the internet.

There were 149 allegations of crimes involving revenge pornography during the last two-and-a-half years, according to the eight police forces in England and Wales with data on it.

The figures, believed to be the first into its prevalence, showed the vast majority of victims are women – with only six incidents resulting in any sort of police caution or charge.

Published: Monday 20th October 2014 by The News Editor

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