UK Women’s Equality Party calls for revenge porn legislation that actually works

Sophie Walker, Women's Equality Party
Sophie Walker, Women’s Equality Party

Finally, someone is demanding real protection for women and girls from revenge porn laws. Yesterday, the UK Women’s Equality Party launched the “e-Quality” campaign, which aims to address the glaring problems in current revenge porn legislation.

Women’s Equality Party leader Sophie Walker announced:

“We call on all political parties to set aside their differences and work with us to deliver digital legislation that works, so that the Internet is safe and fair for all.”

Since revenge porn was criminalized in England and Wales in April 2015, the current laws have proven themselves to be quite ineffective, as, in 61 per cent of cases no action was taken and most did not resulting in a criminal charge, even for the distribution of child porn. One man targeted five women/girls (that police know of) and was let off with a warning from police last month.

The main policy reforms the Women’s Equality Party calls for are as follows:

  • Criminalizing the act on the basis that the victim did not give consent for the images to be shared, instead of the law’s current focus on whether the perpetrator intended to cause “distress.” (Oh, I destroyed your life. But I didn’t mean any harm by it, so no legal recourse for you!)
  • Actually holding the websites that host the revenge porn accountable by ensuring they remove the revenge porn, so victims don’t just depend on the goodwill of website operators for justice. (When websites, like Google, profit from traffic by hosting/linking to revenge porn, they actually have an economic incentive to not extend this goodwill to victims.)
  • Allow victims access to civil law in seeking compensation for pain and economic harm from individual perpetrators as well as websites that fail to remove the content expediently.
  • Allow victims to anonymously request removal of content and seek compensation.

The e-Quality campaign comes on the heels of the Women and Equalities Committee inquiry into sexual violence in British Schools — led by Maria Miller — which found schools to have an alarming climate of coercion, distribution of child porn, and blackmail. Sarah Ditum wrote, of the inquiry results:

“Pornography is no longer restrained by paper, but replicates and spreads virus-like on mobile phones — and every child has a mobile phone. That means that every child has a camera, too, and can make themselves a direct participant in the economy of exposure that seems to make up the adult world. Selfies are rated. Nudes are coaxed, then distributed. Lives are trashed.”

With reported UK victims of revenge porn as young as 11 and the rise of cyber-sexual abuse of girls, the Women’s Equality Party recognizes the issue of revenge porn to be inherently linked to child porn. The party also calls for mandatory sex education to teach children “that civil rights and human rights apply online as well as offline.” (Well, in theory they certainly do, but the legislation still must be passed to make this true in practice.)

Party leader Sophie Walker says, “It is simply unacceptable that the government has ruled out something that is so essential to ending violence against women.” Indeed, it is commendable that the Women’s Equality Party is taking a stand and demanding for proper legislation to be passed, as the issue of revenge porn is far more encompassing than is generally acknowledged.

With the proliferation of Internet enabled camera phones across the globe, it has become standard practice to film rapes for further violation of the victim and in order to blackmail them out of reporting the crime. In places like India, the practice is being described as “a newer form of acid attacks.” Revenge porn is also often used in situations of domestic violence, as a way to control or punish the victim. Any policy attempt to address rape or domestic violence is utterly incomplete without a critical examination of the country’s cyberlaw regarding revenge porn.

You can participate in the WE Party’s campaign on social media through the hashtag #CtrlAltDelete.

Susan Cox
Susan Cox

Susan Cox is a feminist writer and academic living in the United States. She teaches in Philosophy.

Like this article? Tip Feminist Current!

$
Personal Info

Donation Total: $1

  • VeraCity777

    Sickening. Thanks for the article. I hope something good comes of this. There’s just no excuse, period…