Following an 18-month campaign led by writer and activist Gina Martin, the practice of ‘upskirting’ – taking photos or video up someone’s clothes without their consent – officially becomes illegal in the UK today.
Gina Martin started looking into the law after being upskirted at a music festival in Hyde Park, and discovering when she reported the incident to the police that it wasn’t illegal.
Following an awareness campaign after sharing her experience on Facebook, Martin secured over 50,000 signatures on an online petition to have her case reopened by the police.
After calling for upskirting to be made part of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, Martin secured support from a number of high-profile advocates – including Laura Whitmore, Dermot O’Leary and Holly Willoughby, featured in the Ministry of Justice awareness video, above. Lib Dem MP Wera Hobhouse brought a private members’ bill backing the instatement of upskirting as a criminal offence in England and Wales in March 2018. Today, the Queen signs the bill into law. Perpetrators could face up to two years in prison and being placed on the sex offenders register.
Released figures revealed that girls as young as 10 have been targeted by perpetrators of upskirting. It is one of many prevailing behaviours in society that contribute to sexual violence against women and girls, including the growing use of image-based abuse such as ‘revenge porn’, which has seen growth in recent years. Today’s change in law marks a significant step towards addressing those inequalities.
Speaking to the Guardian in June of last year, Justice minister Lucy Frazer stated:
“This behaviour is a hideous invasion of privacy which leaves victims feeling degraded and distressed.
“By making upskirting a specific offence, we are sending a clear message that this behaviour will not be tolerated, and that perpetrators will be properly punished.
“I’d like to thank Wera Hobhouse, Gina Martin, and all other campaigners for their tireless work.”
For more information, please visit the Ministry of Justice website.