Why ‘Revenge Porn’ should be made illegal in Ireland

It has recently been reported that tens of thousands of nude and pornographic images of Irish women and underage girls were shared onto discord servers without their knowledge or consent.

This includes both private and paid content, from OnlyFans, Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp, and other social networks. Many of the images were also shared onto pornographic websites, as well as being shared in these forums.

Gardaí are currently investigating the situation, as it’s understood that some of the pornographic images shared were of minors.

However, as it currently stands in the Republic of Ireland, it is NOT illegal for someone to share an image of another person (over the age of 18) online without their consent, pornographic or not.

Distribution of sexually explicit images or videos of individuals without their consent is typically referred to as ‘Revenge Porn’. While it’s usually done by an individual’s past partner, it can also include videos and photos taken surreptitiously without the victim’s knowledge or consent.

‘Revenge Porn’ can have a lasting, horrific effect on the victim’s mental health and future, with ‘Victim Blaming’ playing a big part. Victim Blaming can sound like; 

‘These girls should have been more careful.’

‘These girls fell into a trap.’

‘Well, what did they expect?’ 

Or even, ‘Boys will be boys.’

However, this mentality does not blame the predators or in many cases, the paedophiles.

Speaking to The Journal, Social Democrats TD, Holly Cairns states, “I want to send a clear message to anyone whose images have been shared without their consent.”

“It’s not your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong. You’re not to blame. Unfortunately, the law isn’t protecting you and it’s not your fault, and that has to change.”

Set to raise the issue in the Dáil today, Holly is urging Justice Minister Helen McEntee to bring this matter to legislation, insisting we “move immediately to protect victims of what we all know is a crime but today is still not considered one.”

“Thousands of Irish men are sharing images of women and girls without their consent, there are horrific levels of sexual violence in our colleges, we all know victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault,” Cairns explained.

She then continued, urging men who see or receive an image or video being circulated without consent, to “call it out.”

“You should speak up, in WhatsApp groups, in conversations, in any given situation – you need to call it out. If you don’t you are complicit,” Cairns added.

“Deeply troubled” by the fact that tens of thousands of images of girls were circulated online without their consent, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) have also called for urgent action on image-based sexual abuse.

“New legislation should ensure that victims’ experiences are taken into account and must encompass definitions of consent and intent that reflect the sexual nature of this crime,” a spokesperson said.

This issue is covered in the Harassment, Harmful Communications, and Related Offences Bill, which was first proposed in 2017, however it failed to get passed before the previous government dissolved.

The Bill will now be brought before the Justice Committee to be debated on December 1, before being brought before the Seanad. If passed, this could see offenders sentenced to up to seven years in prison.

We urge you to read and sign this petition, to make Revenge Porn a criminal offence in Ireland.

If you are suffering from this nude leak scandal and are looking for support, please reach out to one or more of these organisations; Women’s Aid, Samaritans, Pieta House or Childline.

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