Pressurise the government to change revenge porn law

Legal changes are the only real solution to revenge porn

Cartoon: Kate Mitchell

Cartoon: Kate Mitchell

There is no denying that it’s an unwise, spiteful move to post intimate pictures of someone else for the world to see if they have not given their permission.

But the fact that there is little legislation to prevent it or to punish those who post the photos or those websites which host them is ludicrous. This practice creates victims just as traumatised as those of a crime, but is entirely legal. We must pressure the government to enact laws which will criminalise revenge porn.

The fact that this action will discredit someone’s name for years to come yet there is no help available to delete such material is preposterous. It is also sad that society will judge the person in the picture, whether true or not people’s personal relationships and information are just that, personal. Whether someone has been unfaithful in a relationship or not is none of our business. Nor is what they do behind closed doors, of course, within reason. So why does this information get chucked around the web for all to see?

There’s no changing people’s opinions about these victims without some serious action, which is exactly why a resolution to this issue lies in legislation, rather than simply trying to convince those who share the photos to play nice.

The current legal system, not only in Britain, but in most places around the world with regards to this issue, does seem to be flawed. In an age where information can spread worldwide instantly, international action is needed. It seems crazy that you have little ownership rights on a photo of yourself if your ex has taken it. Websites themseleves also have no legal obligation to remove the photos because consensual naked photos themselves are legal, as long as they aren’t child pornography.

This does make it very hard to legisliate against actions of revenge porn. Facebook has various safeguards for your profile, including the personal approving of tagged pictures, something which is probably worth installing. However this is not enough.

These photos can often be presented alongside personal information, links to your facebook, twitter and phone number. Suddenly your life becomes defined by vulnerability and a helplessness to change the situation. Victims have been stalked and harassed as a direct result of revenge porn, hardly a fair punishment for a messy break up.

Luckily, removing pictures from sites like Facebook is easy enough and there are even companies such as changemyreputation.com that will have the images removed from other websites, for an extortionate price. There are even charities which offer advice and support.

But this doesn’t do enough to stop the phenomenon. Once the Government starts to take the issue seriously and protect its people, then and only then will we see real change in attitudes. The law must lead by example.

In Australia, California and Israel there are laws which protect against revenge porn. The UK is lagging behind. Traditionalist views that blame the victim and a lack of awareness amongst the general population are reasons why progress on the matter has been slow. Furthermore, there are no complaints from those hosting and posting the content; as mentioned a website is not responsible for content given by others unless it is child pornography. If the Government faces no pressure, they won’t make any changes. This is why petitions are a good first step to tackling the problem on the ground.

While the matter is not illegal,

I would like to think that the police would take complaints about this behaviour seriously. The only real way this can be done at the moment is through the Protection from Harassment Act.

A change to the law to make revenge porn a serious crime would change the culture in wider society and enable the police force to act accordingly

The idea of strangers masturbating over pictures of me is both scary and vile. The violation of trust would make me feel sick if I were even in such a position, and I can’t begin to imagine the waves of dread and helplessness that washes over victims in these situations. We must support this cause because one day it could be any one of us in the situation, and how grateful we would be then if it was already illegal.

Pressurising the government and raising awareness of the issue are the first steps to eradicating revenge porn.

2 comments

  1. Firstly before you go on a rant I think these sites are absolutely despicable and I wish they would disappear but I don’t think that legislation is the way to do this. Pushing for legislation against something just because you find it disgusting is exactly the same as the old laws against homosexuality. Legislation should always be a last resort not your go to answer.

    Half of what you describe is already illegal. Posting personal information and encouraging harassment is already covered under the cyberstalking laws, http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/s_to_u/stalking_and_harassment/#a05a

    How about checking facts before publishing.

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