Scotland has enforced revenge porn laws, what about Ireland? 4 years ago

Scotland has enforced revenge porn laws, what about Ireland?

Scotland's revenge porn laws finally came into effect yesterday, making the unsolicited sharing of intimate photos punishable by up to five years in prison.

Along with the unanimous passing of the law last March came a campaign by Scottish Women's Aid, Rape Crisis Scotland, and the Scottish government. Posters showing naked men and women with only crime scene tape covering them detailed the dangers of revenge porn - as well as the harsh penalties that can now be put in place should this law be broken.

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The new legislation covers photos and films where the subject is naked or wearing underwear. While it does not take into account texts or emails, the law's introduction was met with great support by Scottish sexual violence groups.

And now thanks to a similar law put forward in May, Ireland is about to crack down on revenge porn too.

Revenge porn

Similarly to Scottish law, the proposed Non-Fatal Offences (Amendment) Bill 2017 has a recommended punishment of up to one year or a fine of €5000 for sharing intimate images and videos without consent.

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Although the government does not necessarily have to take this recommendation on board, making revenge porn a punishable crime is more than has ever been done to combat the act. Up until the bill was put forward, there had been no legislation criminalising revenge porn in Ireland.

Approved by Tanasite Frances Fitzgerald, the bill should also legislate against the publication of voyeuristic material and upskirting.

Not only has there been a considerable spike in revenge porn engagement over the past few years, but those affected most negatively tend to be women. Just think of the online reactions when a naked photo of say, Justin Bieber, surfaces online without his consent, versus when an intimate video of ex-X Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos does.

Jennifer Lawrence

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While celebrity cases usually don't operate the same way as individual cases do, the reason behind sharing the photos tends to remain the same - to shame, to humiliate, and to intimidate.

Time and time again, the accounts of celebrities and public figures are hacked, and their personal photos have been shared to millions of people worldwide.

There was an influx of leaks like these back in 2014, when Jennifer Lawrence, Selina Gomez, and many others became victims of a hack that led to their nude photos being shared online.

Lawrence called the hack a "sex crime," and rightly so, but while many agreed that the leak had been a total violation of her privacy, there were others who didn't see much issue with taking a look at the images themselves.

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The problem here is that while people are quick to condemn those who share revenge porn, so many others aren't aware that even looking at the images counts as active engagement in the attack too.

Following the release of the awareness campaign in Scotland, students came forward voicing their fears that a lot of people still thought revenge porn wasn't that big of a deal. The campaign, which included a video as well as posters, emphasised the manipulative nature of revenge porn, the humiliation it's likely to trigger upon sharing, and the harm it can cause victims years into the future.

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Not only will Ireland's bill deter people from sharing revenge porn in the first place, but it will also provide adequate punishments for those who decide to do it anyway. An issue that drastically still needs tackling.

The bill will be a massive step forward for Ireland and for the safety of its citizens, but it is likely that many of the attitudes towards revenge porn and unsolicited image sharing will remain.

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Not having anybody to prosecute under revenge porn law is better than having to prosecute somebody until revenge porn law - because that would mean that nobody is sharing revenge porn.

For that to happen we'd need to have an overhaul of our sex education system, focusing more on issues that are relevant to 2017 like consent and abuse. The moment people start understanding what is and isn't acceptable behaviour, the better equipped the country will be to keep its citizens safe.