Guest post: How to tackle revenge porn

teens texting by Sylvie Bouchard

As parents, we must grapple with the role the Internet plays in our lives and our children?s lives. One of the relatively new issues is revenge porn, which can be problematic for boys and girls. Conservative MP Shailesh Vara (right), Justice Minister, writes about the topic is this guest post:

MP Shailesh Vara, Justice MinisterThe sharing of private sexually explicit photographs and films of someone without their permission in order to cause distress and humiliate them is a terrible act, made worse when the sharing is done by an ex-partner. Revenge porn is a painful betrayal of trust, it is wrong, it is criminal and, according to those providing support to victims, it is on the rise.

Revenge porn as a criminal offence

Malicious communication was criminalised a long time ago but the digital age we now live in has made sharing images easier and made it quicker to do lasting damage to the reputation and self-esteem of victims.  Victims have told us they have lost jobs as a result, been isolated from family and friends and suffered from stress and mental illness. So we have listened to the pleas of victims to do more and have created a specific criminal offence of revenge porn in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill whose passage I have just led through the House of Commons. With this change, I believe we will be more effective at ensuring that individuals who maliciously disclose these kinds of images get the punishment they deserve. This new law makes it clear to victims that we take this issue very seriously and sends the message to offenders that we will not stand for this abhorrent behaviour.

Be Aware B4 You Share campaign 

And changing the law is not all we are doing to stem the growing problem. Today marks the beginning of a Ministry of Justice campaign to end revenge porn. As social media are most often used for sharing revenge porn, the Be Aware B4 You Share campaign uses these same platforms to raise awareness of the new law and warns offenders they could face up to two years in prison. The campaign asks the public to support the drive to make it socially unacceptable to share private sexual photographs and films of other people without their consent.

Revenge porn hotline

Supporting victims is of paramount importance. Revenge porn is humiliating and distressing for the victim and I seek nothing short of a wholesale attitude-change away from victim-blaming and towards standing up against perpetrators. I want victims to feel able to come forward and report incidents knowing that the law is on their side and there is dedicated support. This is why the Ministry of Justice is partnering with UK Safer Internet Centre, Women?s Aid and Suzy Lamplugh Trust on this campaign and why the government is funding a revenge porn helpline to give guidance and practical advice to victims. This demonstrates that we are providing a coherent response to a disgusting crime.

Raising awareness before it happens

As well as setting out punishment for offenders the law should also prevent offending. The real goal of the campaign is to raise awareness of the new offence to deter offenders from maliciously sharing private intimate photographs and films in the first place. I urge the public to support this campaign. Let?s turn the tide of revenge porn and help put an end to this worrying trend.

To find out more and support the campaign, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/revenge-porn-be-aware-b4-you-share
 
Revenge Porn Helpline: 0845 6000 459

Image: Sylvie Bouchard via Shutterstock

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