Alison McInnes calls on MacAskill to outlaw “despicable and cowardly” revenge porn

It’s great news that revenge porn is to be made a specific criminal offence in England and Wales. The roll of honour for that includes Tory MP Maria Miller and Liberal Democrat parliamentarians Julian Huppert, Olly Grender, Liz Barker, Sal Brinton and Jonathan Marks. The top prize of course goes to Hannah Thompson, who has so courageously and reasonably made the case for a change in the law, telling her own story about what how it felt when her ex-boyfriend taunted her by posting explicit images of her, which she had never intended for anything other than private use, online.  From yesterday’s Telegraph:

He’d upload them; I’d find them; I’d beg him to take them down; he’d acquiesce and apologise profusely. Then the whole cycle would start again a few weeks later.

He had been captioning them with labels such as “British Whore” and “London Slut”.

And I wasn’t the only one who had been targeted in this way. There were numerous images of other girls published on his site, too.

I struggled to reconcile what was happening with the sweet boy who had been too scared to hold my hand on our first date, two years before.

I became so paranoid that I would reverse image search the pictures every day (putting them into Google to check whether they’d been republished) and report every single instance of them. I became obsessed, scrolling through the obscene comments even though they made my stomach turn.

My self-confidence disappeared and I felt every inch the ‘whore’ and ‘slut’ he’d labelled me.

It’s good to know that this sort of cruel abuse will no longer be legal. It’s not going to completely sort the problem out as getting the images taken down once they are up is not without its problems, but making it illegal is a huge step forward.

The change in the law brought about by Hannah’s campaign and agreed by the House of Lords earlier this week doesn’t apply in Scotland so Scottish Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Alison McInnes has written to Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to ask him to make a similar change in the law:

The House of Lords this week unanimously agreed to amend the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill to make revenge pornography a criminal offence in England and Wales. I am writing to urge the Scottish Government to follow its example and introduce specific legislation to tackle these vile and damaging acts.

The Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland QC, has expressed concerns that there is significant under-reporting of this issue. It is important that victims don’t suffer in silence and know that they have done nothing wrong. I believe that introducing specific legislation to tackle these despicable and cowardly acts will give victims confidence that such violations of their privacy are unacceptable and illegal.

In addition to empowering more people to seek justice, creating a specific criminal offence would help overcome any archaic attitudes towards the use of revenge pornography as a cruel tool to distress, embarrass, manipulate or humiliate someone.

She has also tabled a motion in the Parliament. Please encourage your MSPs to sign it:

Motion Number: S4M-11261
Lodged By: Alison McInnes
Date Lodged: 21/10/2014

Title: Revenge Pornography

Motion Text:
That the Parliament is deeply concerned at the growth of revenge pornography, which typically sees individuals publishing explicit and intimate photographs and videos of ex-partners without their permission, usually online or via other digital means and with the intent to distress, embarrass, manipulate or humiliate that person; understands that, while the images may be taken with full consent, authorisation for their subsequent dissemination is often not given; considers that the dissemination of these images has ruined lives, destroyed careers and caused untold psychological damage; recognises what it sees as the significant progress that has been made toward introducing specific legislation to deal with this problem in England and Wales; recalls that the Lord Advocate has argued for the introduction of new laws to help protect victims of revenge porn in Scotland, and believes that Scottish Government ministers should bring forward legislative proposals to criminally sanction individuals who breach the privacy of others through these vengeful acts.

Let’s hope that we can get the law changed north of the border as well.

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About caronlindsay

Scottish Lib Dem pro UK activist, mum, Doctor Who, Strictly, F1 and trashy tv addict and blogger.
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