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Women in Focus

New laws to make revenge porn illegal?

by Alison Potter Published on 3 October 2013

Break ups are hard enough as it is, but they’re especially traumatic if you have an angry ex who is gunning for revenge and isn't afraid to share intimate pictures of you with the rest of the world. Now a new law has been passed in the state of California making this kind of naked ex photo sharing illegal.

Such a violation of privacy is a growing – and incredibly worrying – trend, one which even high profile celebrities can’t escape from. In recent years we’ve seen Kim Kardashian, Colin Farrell, Paris Hilton and Tulisa all contend with scorned exes releasing sex tapes of them against their will.

Webpages dedicated to hosting compromising videos and pictures sent in by furious former loves are popping up in alarming numbers and these ‘revenge porn’ sites exist for the sole aim of humiliating ex partners.

With the rise in sexting, apps such as Vine and Snapchat, and smartphones which are able to record video at the touch of a button, it’s no wonder that this is becoming an increasingly common predicament.

​The fact that these images can be shared with frightening ease via social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter just adds to the problem.

But it’s not just causing a few blushes, revenge porn ruins lives, and in some cases it has driven people to suicide. Amanda Todd was just 12-years-old when she was persuaded by a paedophile to flash her breasts over webcam. He then publicly shared the pictures with everyone Amanda knew and, unable to cope with the bullying and being branded a ‘slut’, she tragically took her own life.

Amanda Todd isn’t the only high profile victim, and in fact the leaking of naked pictures and videos is worrying legislators in California so much that they’ve just passed a new criminal bill that makes it illegal to upload such content.

Those that deliberately do post naked and identifiable pictures of their exes after bitter break ups face a penalty of up to six months in jail and a $1000 fine.

It will be interesting to see if these measures can curb the furious acts of disgruntled exes and whether they will not only spread to other states in the US, but also cross the pond and become law here too.

But this isn’t the only thing that we can do to halt the rise in revenge porn and the damaging long-lasting repercussions of such painful public humiliation.

Young people especially are prone to making reckless decisions, and an unguarded moment captured on camera can cause untold pain and anguish. More needs to be done to educate young men and women about the perils of nude pictures and revenge porn. Also, the current climate of ‘slut-shaming’ has to end.

Just last month a 17-year-old girl at an Eminem concert in Slane, Ireland was photographed performing oral sex on a boy. The pictures spread like wildfire on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and Reddit, and #SlaneGirl even became a trending topic on Twitter.

Her name was revealed and the school she went to, causing her such emotional distress that she had to be taken into hospital and be sedated. Meanwhile the boy in the picture was labelled a hero and continued on with his life as normal.

Now we’re all accountable for our own actions, but most of us are guilty of also making bad and regrettable decisions at one time or another. Hopefully this new legislation on revenge porn will help to end the public humiliation and distress caused by the sharing of compromising videos and pictures against the person’s will.

In any case it’s a step in the right direction to counteracting the worrying rise of online bullying and abuse.

Do you think the UK government should pass a law to make revenge porn illegal? We like this idea! Tweet us @SofeminineUK!

by Alison Potter

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