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After activist Gina Martin campaigned for 'upskirting' to become illegal in England this year, Ireland looks set to follow suit.

According to the Journal, revenge porn is to be outlawed under new amendments to legislation which are expected to be approved by Cabinet.

Upskirting takes place when a person takes a photograph under the clothes of another without consent being granted. The changes in the legislation will also provide for a separate offence to punish those involved in this image-based crime.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by G I N A M A R T I N (@ginamartinuk) on

When upskirting in the UK was officially criminalised this February, Gina Martin posted;

"18 months ago a man stuck his hand between my legs and took photos of my crotch without my consent. 18 months ago I decided I wasn't going to brush sexual assault off anymore. 18 months ago I discovered it wasn't sexual offence and decided I was going to try and change the law for all of us." 

Now, it's Ireland's turn. The Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill, which provides for a six-month prison sentence when a person is convicted, was put forward back in 2017 and is based on a Law Reform Commission report.

The report recommends the outlawing of two kinds of incidents: one which forbids the posting online of explicit images without consent, the other which will prevent secretly filming or photographing people in a sexualised manner without consent, i.e. ‘upskirting’ and ‘down-blousing’.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan will seek government approval today to draft amendments to the Bill.

'Revenge porn' laws in Ireland mark us out as regressive and archaic, and Labour leader Brendan Howlin agrees. 

Howlin has previously said one of the aspects of the digital age is the increase in occasions where private images taken while in an intimate relationship are posted online following a break-up.

“They use images gathered during that relationship to harm their former partner by posting intimate, lewd images that were meant for an intimate couple online. It is totally unacceptable,” he said. New Zealand, Australia and now the UK have laws ahead of ours.

The legislative move comes just a few months after gardaí were informed by more than two women that their explicit photographs have been posted online without their consent. 

The forum on Reddit which displayed nude and clothed images of Irish women, called 'Irish Sluts', shared without their consent was later shut down

Harassment offences will now include any form of communication, including digital and online comments about another person.

Social media and technology laws are in dire need of modernising, and existing regulation must be brought up to date regarding activities on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram messenger and Whatsapp.

Image credit: theconversation.com

The existing offence of sending threatening or indecent messages will now expand to include all obscene messages using any form of digital communication.

The specific offence of stalking (in the 1997 Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act) will also be referred to under the new laws.

The Office of Parliamentary Counsel will start drafting the government amendments to the Bill in order for it to advance to Committee Stage in the Dáil soon.

We, for one, are absolutely delighted. It's been a long time coming.

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There have been calls for upskirting to become a criminal offence in Ireland. The CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre believes Irish legislation needs to be seriously updated.

The call comes after upskirting was made a criminal and sexual offence in both England and Wales.

Upskirting is the practice of taking unauthorized photos under a woman's skirt.

People found guilty of this act could face two years in prison and could also be put on the sex offender’s register.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Noeline Blackwell stated: “As it stands right now, this remains wrong and harmful but really difficult for the police to find a way to prosecute it or to hold anyone to account. A message has to be sent out by society that it's not tolerated, you do that through legislation."

She added that this offence causes major distress and upset for victims, but there are still people who find it funny. “This remains wrong and harmful.”

Gina Martin tirelessly campaigned for the criminalisation of upskirting for over two years. When news broke that it would be made illegal in England and Wales, she said she was exhausted and happy after it was decided the offence became illegal.
 

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It was announced yesterday that upskirting will become a criminal offence in England, carrying a two-year prison sentence.

The offence of taking photos under a person's clothing without their permission is currently still legal in Ireland, but is illegal in Scotland. 

Gina Martin has been an ardent campaigner for the criminalisation of upskirting for over two years, and said she was exhausted and happy after it was decided the offence became illegal.

The bill passed its third reading in the House of Lords yesterday, meaning upskirting is to be a criminal offence. 

In June, the Ministry of Justice claimed it would support the ban which formed an aspect of the Voyeurism Offences Bill.

Gina Martin, a freelance writer from London, has headed the campaign since her own experience as a victim of upskirting herself at a music festival in 2017.

"I am over the moon. Upskirting will be illegal. After becoming a victim and recognising a gap in the law, I partnered with Ryan Whelan of Gibson Dunn and began 18 months of exhaustive, emotional and life-changing work."

"Now? We have changed the law! I always thought politics was impenetrable but with the right help and willpower you can do it. We did it. We made upskirting a sexual offence!"

"I am exhausted and so so happy!"

Gina said she spotted one of the men who upskirted her sharing the image on his mobile in front of her. Despite grabbing the phone and showing it to police, four days later the case was closed.

The offence will gain a two-year sentence; victims previously had to try other avenues to get justice, such as outraging public decency.

We think it's high time this became a legal offence in Ireland. Congrats Gina, you're one badass lady.

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In a progressive and necessary step, the UK Government is pledging to support the criminalization of upskirting.

The act of taking a picture or video footage up a woman’s skirt without her consent or knowledge has been a grey area until recently. 

Gina Martin, who launched the campaign to make upskirting illegal after she was the victim of the heinous act, shared her delight on Twitter at the move: 

Gina previously shared her story on being a victim of upskirting earlier this year – telling This Morning how poorly the incident was dealt with by police. 

Gina was at a music event when a man stuck his phone under her skirt and snapped a picture. After grabbing his phone and reporting it, nothing was done. 

The image was deleted, and the police could not take action as it was not technically a graphic image as Gina was wearing underwear. 

Katie Ghose, chief executive of Women's Aid, told The Independent: 'We welcome the Government taking decisive action to make upskirting a criminal offence.'

'This form of abuse is painful and humiliating for victims and often has a devastating impact on all aspects of their lives.'

Last year, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, informed her party that she is making it a criminal offence to photograph or film up a woman’s skirt without her express consent in Ireland.

The move coincided with the expansion of the definition of ‘revenge porn’ and seeks to deal more effectively with an act known as ‘upskirting’ in addition to the publication of voyeuristic material.

Commenting on the legislative change, an Tánaiste said: “It is important that we ensure our laws can deal effectively with phenomena such as so-called revenge pornography and the publication of voyeuristic material without consent, as recommended by the Law Reform Commission’s report.”

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Last year Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald drafted legislation to make upskirting a criminal offence in Ireland. 

However, in some countries, the act of taking a picture or video footage up a woman’s skirt without her consent or knowledge, is thought to be a grey area.

Yesterday, Gina Martin, a victim of upskirting appeared on This Morning to detail her experience with the invasive act. 

Speaking to Holly and Phil, Gina told the world how she had been hit on at a summer festival, and after telling the guys she wasn't interested, they attempted revenge by upskirting her. 

She felt one of the guys brush up against her, but she ignored it at the time.

Moments later, she found her self behind the guy in the crowd, and was able to see his phone screen in his hand. To her horror, on his screen was a picture of her genitals, taken at an angel up her skirt. 

'They sent them to each other and I saw it on one guy's phone.'

'I grabbed his phone and ran to security who called the police. After looking at the photos, confirming it was me, and questioning him they let us go,' she wrote on her petition to bring the upskirting issue to legal attention. 

After reporting it to the police, the image was deleted, but the police could not take action as it was not a graphic image as Gina was wearing underwear. 

Appalled at the response to her experience, Gina began a movement, called #StopSkirtingTheIssue, to draw attention to the fact that upskirting is legal in the UK.

Her petition has garnered almost 90,000 signatures, and a This Morning poll found that 97pc of Twitter users would like to see that act have criminal prosecution. 

'This happens regularly to so many women and by putting pressure on the police to prosecute we're also aiming to raise awareness nationwide that this is a crime.'

'Well done you for being brave enough and getting up and making a stand and taking this to parliament,' Holly told Gina. 

'I am right behind you I hope it makes a change finally.'

You can find Gina's petition here.

 

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