The Naked Threat”
As the Domestic Abuse bill starts the report stage, a campaign has been launched by the charity Refuge, the UK’s largest provider for survivors of domestic abuse and their children, to make threats to share intimate or sexual images or films a crime.
This campaign is backed by the Victims Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird and the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs
Nicole Jacobs has commented ‘The threat to share an intimate image – so-called ‘revenge porn’ – is an insidious and powerful way that perpetrators of domestic abuse seek to control their victims, and yet the law does not provide the protection that is needed. Threats to share these images play on fear and shame and can be particularly dangerous where there might be multiple perpetrators or so-called ‘honour-based’ abuse is a factor. What’s more, the advent of new technologies enables perpetrators to make these threats even where such images do not exist, but there is no clear criminal sanction for this behaviour.
I therefore call on the Government to use the Domestic Abuse Bill to criminalise the threat to share intimate images, as well as to extend the coercive and controlling offence to post-separation abuse, both of which would go a long way in better supporting victims and survivors of domestic abuse.’
Dame Vera Baird has commented ‘A key report – Shattering Lives and Myths written by professor Clare McGlynn and others at Durham Law School – was launched at the Supreme Court last year and sets out the appalling consequences to victims of intimate images being posted without consent on the internet. These images are sometimes sent to the victim’s children, or their parents, or their employer and frequently also posted on porn sites.
Refuge reports that they have seen an increase in the number of women reporting threats to share intimate images, providing an insight into how this form of abuse is developing. In their survey. Refuge found that 1 in 14 adults in England and Wales have experienced threats to share intimate images or videos mainly amongst young people aged 18 -34
Refuge assert that threatening to share intimate images must be treated as a domestic abuse issue. Amendments are sought to the Domestic Abuse Bill the legislative mechanism to swiftly change the law to meet the needs of survivors.
Refuge is therefore seeking support and action here calling on the Government to amend Section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 to explicitly outlaw threats to share sexual images or films in England and Wales.