Changing Positions in Revenge Porn


Revenge porn is a new phenomenon, made possible by the advancement of technology and the increased ease of making any content public: national, worldwide, even viral. As cute as some kitten videos can be, one-touch distribution has a dark side. In our new technology era, disgruntled ex-lovers have taken to sharing online private and explicit pictures of former partners in a deliberate attempt to humiliate them or cause distress. These images are often accompanied with personal details of the victim, intensifying the embarrassment.

A 2013 study revealed 64% of college-aged participants had received a sexually explicit or suggestive photo, and 46% admitted to having sent one. Whilst the dangers of sending sexually explicit pictures are often preached to young people, words are not always an effective preventative measure. The advice to simply not take nude pictures does not always apply as images can be taken unknowingly, or come from other means such as hacked webcams.

Revenge porn can have disastrous psychological, mental, and social consequences for victims. Many people will be familiar with the infamous case of Amanda Todd, a Canadian teenager who committed suicide after a love interest relentlessly sent her explicit pictures her friends and classmates. Like a lot of these cases, it resulted in terrible harassment.

In the past, there were no effective practical laws against revenge porn. If the victim was under 18 then an issue of child pornography could be raised. However, adults had no such protection if their trust was violated in this way, as the photo was technically considered the property of the ex who had received it.

Later on, the Crown Prosecution Services prosecuted perpetrators of revenge porn under existing obscenity laws such as section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988 (sending of electronic communications which are indecent, grossly offensive, threatening or false with an intention to cause distress or anxiety), and section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 (sending or causing to be sent through a public electronic communications network a message that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character). Relief for victims also included civil remedies under the Human Rights legislation regarding privacy. But largely due to the lack of adaptation to the problem, very few prosecutions occurred.

However, these flaws were duly noted, resulting in section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015. Under the new law perpetrators could now face up to 2 years in prison. A spokesperson for the CPS said:

"Due to the very personal nature of 'revenge pornography' prosecutors are being asked specifically to consider the impact on the victims involved. The new guidance also makes clear that the context of each case needs to be considered alongside current guidelines to ensure that the most appropriate legislation is used when prosecuting. The public, and indeed those intent on attacking former partners in this way, can now see clearly that this is a crime that can and will be prosecuted.”

Where the victim is under 18, or the images were taken before they were 18, prosecutors will also consider offences under the Protection of Children Act 1978.

In a world of ever-evolving technology, victims of a horrendous humiliation-based crime are understandably hesitant to contact the police. The reassurance that a conviction is possible could make all the difference in encouraging victims to come forward and see that justice will be done.

Other References:

Prosecutors being advised to learn from revenge porn cases across the country to help them tackle this "humiliating" crime, 07/08/2015, http://www.cps.gov.uk/news/latest_news/prosecutors_being_advised_to_learn_from_revenge_porn_cases/ [Accessed at 06/08/2016]

Revenge Porn Fact Sheet: Be aware b4 you share, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/405286/revenge-porn-factsheet.pdf [Accessed at 06/08/2016]

#revengeporn #CPS

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