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Upskirting Is Set To Be A Crime In England And Wales

The practice has been a punishable offence in Scotland since 2010.

The practice has been a punishable offence in Scotland since 2010.

A woman who launched a campaign against 'upskirting' – after being targeted and violated some 18 months ago at a music festival – has celebrated the passing of the previously blocked law, which would see offenders face prison time for their non-consensual behaviour.

Upskirting, which is the practice of taking unauthorized photographs under a woman's skirt or man's kilt, has been a crime in Scotland since 2010.

The new legislation, approved in the House of Lords and now only awaiting the formality of Royal Assent, will see offenders face up to two years in jail.

This follows the fervent campaign fronted by writer and activist Gina Martin who had an upskirt photo taken of her a year prior. The London-based freelancer – who was helped along the way by a number of MPs – drafted a bill making the practice illegal. 

However, this wasn't without its hurdles – the original upskirting bill was blocked by conservative MP Christopher Chope in June.

Martin's campaign eventually secured government backing on 15 July last year and the Voyeurism (Offences) (No. 2) Bill was put before Parliament only days later.

Now, the new Voyeurism Offences Bill is being looked at by MPs in the Women and Equalities Committee.

The 26-year-old said she was “over the moon” that the bill passed its final stage in the Lords.

In a statement she wrote, "I always thought politics was impenetrable, but with the right help and willpower, you can do it. We did it."

Back in 2017, then-Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald also set out to make upskirting a criminal offence. During this time, Fitzgerald also confirmed plans to legislate stalking, including cyberstalking, and revenge porn criminal offences. 

The Minister for Justice and Equality went on to welcome the passage of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015 in February 2017 through both Houses of the Oireachtas in a landmark case for sexual offences legislation in Irish government. 

"This is one of the most comprehensive and wide-ranging pieces of sexual offences legislation ever to be introduced and has been a priority for me as Minister for Justice and Equality," Fitzgerald said, on its passing.

"It is an essential piece of legislation that brings additional protections to some of the most vulnerable people in our community. It contains the right laws for these times, laws that will protect victims of the most vicious and depraved crimes.

"The provisions of this Bill enhance and update laws to combat the sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children. It widens the range of offences associated with child pornography to ensure that no one who participates in any way in the creation, distribution, viewing or sharing of such abhorrent material can escape the law.

"Also, the Bill provides greater clarity in relation to the definition of sexual consent for the first time," she concluded. 

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015 contains:

· New criminal offences to protect children against grooming;

· New measures to protect children from online predators;

· New and strengthened offences to tackle child pornography;

· New provisions to be introduced regarding evidence by victims, particularly children;

· New offences addressing public indecency;

· A provision in relation to harassment Orders to protect victims of convicted sex offenders;

· Provisions maintaining the age of consent to sexual activity at 17 years of age and for a new “proximity of age” defence;

· A provision to criminalise the purchase of sexual services;

· A statutory statement of the law as regards consent to sexual acts.

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