The Law Commission is currently reviewing the law around taking, making and sharing intimate images without consent and has proposed a number of changes, specifically the introduction of four new offences:
- A “base” offence which prohibits the taking or sharing of an intimate image of a depicted person where they do not consent and there is no reasonable belief in consent by the perpetrator.
- An additional more serious offence of taking or sharing an intimate image without the consent of the depicted person, with the intention to humiliate, alarm or distress the victim.
- A further additional serious offence of taking or sharing an intimate image, without the consent of the depicted person and the perpetrator having no reasonable belief in consent, for the purpose of either their own or someone else’s sexual gratification.
- An offence of threatening to share an intimate image where the threat is either intended to cause the depicted person to fear that the image will be shared or the perpetrator is reckless as to whether the depicted person will fear the threat will be carried out.
Intimate image based abuse can have very serious consequences especially for women in minoritised communities. There are many cases where men have used photos of women - sometimes completely innocent pictures, such as a picture of a woman without a hijab at a female gathering - to blackmail and exploit them, because of the inferences that could be drawn from it. However, the law has too many loopholes so that victims of such abuse are unable to seek protection and/or justice.
It is really important to close these loopholes but that will only be possible if we have a true picture of the different scenarios which are used to abuse women. There tends to be a focus on sexual images but as I am sure many will agree, in a number of communities, images do not have to be sexual in order to be deemed intimate. What scenarios do you feel need to be taken into account? Is there any particular model or harm that you think needs to be addressed?
Please do share your thoughts (remember you can leave anonymous comments, just select the anonymous option)