Revenge Pornography Weekly Update: Upskirting

Revenge pornography legislation changes on a week-by-week basis. We will be tracking these updates, as well as notable progress made in revenge pornography cases, and sharing them weekly in this space. 

07 August 2017

Gina Martin recently spoke out to the BBC about her experience as a victim of “upskirting.” In July 2017, she attended the British Summer Time music festival in London’s Hyde Park with her older sister. Two men came and started talking to them. One of the men secretly put his phone under Martin’s skirt and took a picture, perpetrating a crime called “upskirting.”

Martin noticed the man and his friend giggling at a picture on his phone. She looked at the screen and realized it was a picture of her. She grabbed the phone and ran until she found a helpful security guard, who called the police. The police told Martin there was little there could do for her because she was wearing underwear when the photograph was taken. As Martin told the BBC, “The photograph wasn't considered graphic because I had knickers on - if I had chosen not to wear any underwear it might have been dealt with entirely differently - but I don't see how what I was wearing should affect their response.”

Indeed, the offense in England and Wales under which upskirters have been prosecuted is “outraging public decency.” To be a crime, the upskirting has to be “outrageous.” The threshold is often how graphic the image content is, rather than whether the victim has given consent. Scotland and some US states have already criminalized upskirting, and England and Wales should do the same, as Prof Clare McGlynn has argued. Like revenge porn and other forms of cyber sexual assault, the legal standard should be whether consent was given and whether harm was caused.