Tackling Image-Based Sexual Abuse : Supporting Victims & Working to Improve Criminal Justice Responses
Category | event
- Public Policy Exchange
- Sheila Ramkissoon
Dear Duncan ,
Public Policy Exchange will be hosting a webinar on Tackling Image-Based Sexual Abuse: Supporting Victims and Working to Improve Criminal Justice Responses which will take place on Tuesday, May 10th 2022 between 9:30 AM — 1:00 PM.
I wanted to get in touch as I felt this is a topic could be relevant for you and your colleagues.
According to Refuge’s recent report, ‘The Naked Threat’, 1 in 14 adults have experienced threats to share intimate images in England and Wales, rising to 1 in 7 among young women. The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a surge in incidents of image-based abuse, with the revenge porn helpline reporting its busiest year on record in 2020. This was particularly evident in the first lockdown, as the helpline saw cases almost double in April 2020 in comparison to the same month in 2019, increasing from 122 to 242. Refuge’s research has also found that 83% of women who experienced such threats from a current or former partner have also experienced other forms of abuse, situating image-based abuse within the broader context of violence against women and girls (VAWG).
In 2015, ‘revenge pornography’, the disclosure of private sexual photographs and films without consent and with intent to cause distress, was made a criminal offence under section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015. The Government also set up the Revenge Porn Helpline in February 2015, funded by the Home Office, with the aim of supporting victims. The Domestic Abuse Act 2021, amended section 33 so as to include threats to disclose images without consent, with the intention to cause distress. The Law Commission is currently undertaking a review of the existing criminal law as it relates to taking, making and sharing intimate images without consent, provisionally proposing that four offences be established. This would include a base offence prohibiting the taking or sharing of intimate images without consent, sharing with the intention to humiliate, alarm or distress the person, or for sexual gratification, and finally an offence of threatening to share such images.
However, many have called for more to be done to protect victims of image-based abuse. Campaign group #NotYourPorn have warned against a narrow view of such abuse, raising awareness of instances of ‘revenge porn’ in which the intent is not to cause distress, but rather is done without the intention of the survivor ever finding out. As such, there have been calls for more to be done to target the rise of ‘collector culture’, in which intimate images of women are posted, collated and traded. Additionally, End Violence Against Women have called upon the government to give greater attention to the online abuse of women and girls in the upcoming Online Safety Bill, asking that the issue be explicitly named in legislation and that social media platforms be required to take action in this area. Refuge have also warned against legislation that requires proof of intent with regard to the sharing of intimate images, due to the varied and overlapping nature of such motivations and the difficulty of proving this in court.
This symposium will provide an invaluable opportunity for key stakeholders to review existing legislation and discuss further ways to tackle and deter image based sexual abuse. Delegates will also explore methods to raise awareness of the harms of such abuse and develop strategies to support survivors..
If you or your colleagues would like to attend this webinar, please fill in your details in the attached registration form and send it back to me ; I will confirm your place(s) and drop you an email with all the details shortly.