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16 Days of Activism: Day 8 - Because it's not currently a sexual offence in England and Wales

A report by the BBC recently identified that a third of people who had made allegations that their intimate images had been shared without their consent, had subsequently withdrawn their claims. There are a number of reasons given for this including a lack of police support and the fact that, under the laws surrounding this offence, victims are not granted anonymity. This means that their names will be part of the public court proceedings, that newspapers, websites and broadcasters can identify them to their family, friends, neighbours and work colleagues. 

Just imagine for a minute what that’s like: you’ve had pictures of your most intimate moments, pictures that were meant to be private, put online so that anyone can see them. You feel embarrassed, humiliated and shamed. And then your name is published on your local news site. And your images? They’re just a Google away.
It’s no surprise that many people decide to withdraw their support for prosecutions. In practice, the media rarely name victims of this crime, but it’s not a chance that many are willing to take.

The North Yorkshire Police and Crime commissioner, Julia Mulligan, is campaigning to change the law and protect the anonymity of revenge porn victims. In a survey conducted by NYPCC of victims of intimate image abuse, they found only 4% of victims successfully prosecuted their offender. So, why is this? Anonymity was a huge reason for the victims responding to the survey, with 97% saying it stopped them coming forward in reporting the crime. 90% said if they were granted anonymity and a range of other assurances, they would have reported their crime to the police.

And that’s why we believe that the disclosure of intimate images without consent should be designated a sexual offence to guarantee anonymity for complainants. Because no one should suffer in silence. 

You can read more on the NYPCC, #NoMoreNaming campaign, here

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