Review of image and online abuse laws is too little too late

Women and girls need real world protections today but the MOJ's commission will take 2 years to report

The Ministry of Justice launched a Law Commission review of the Law around non-consensual taking, making and sharing of sexual images today (26 June).

Rachel Krys, co-director of EVAW said

“The announcement today of a Law Commission review of the laws surrounding ‘cyber flashing’, ‘revenge porn’ and ‘deepfake’ pornography is very disappointing. While Ministers claim tackling this sort of abuse is a priority, they launch a review which will take 2 years to report. Any new laws and protection are years away. Given the speed of technological change, how quickly on-line abuse evolves and how harmful it is right now, this is completely unacceptable.

“Experts including specialist women’s services and academics have told the Government what changes are needed to the law. It has been clear for some time that a comprehensive new law tackling on-line abuse, focused on the harm done to the victim rather than a narrow examination of intent is needed. Alongside new criminal laws, victims need to be able to access specialist services and need to be protected by the same anonymity afforded to victims of off-line sexual violence.

“Women and girls need real world protections today – they can’t wait for years for the Government to take action”

Professor Clare McGlynn of Durham University Law School will publish a detailed report on Image Based Sexual Abuse on Monday said:

“While I welcome the Government’s recognition of the need for comprehensive law reform, we need to act now before more people’s lives are shattered by these abuses. We don’t need further consultation to understand how urgent this is. It is incumbent upon the Government top now announce further resources to support victims.”

In the meantime, the Government is consulting on tackling Online Harms, proposals which also ignore the gaping hole in the law which fails to protect women and girls from this abuse.

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