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NWCI welcomes Government commitment to tackling non-consensual distribution of intimate images

Published: Wednesday, May 01, 2019

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) today welcomed the news that Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan will seek approval from Cabinet for proposed legislation aimed at tackling the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.

Tara Brown, Violence Against Women Project Coordinator at NWCI said,

“Digital technology has opened up new methods for perpetrators to undertake violence against women. Increasingly, rape crisis centres are hearing from women who have been harmfully impacted by violations including grooming, pornography, sexting, harmful communications and improper use of personal images. NWCI welcomes Minister Charlie Flanagan’s commitment to progressing this legislation. We also welcome Government amendments to provide for a separate offence to deal with another image-based form of harmful communication - what is termed "upskirting". It is important that the legislation defines harassment as including all forms of communication, including the exchange of images from one person to another as well as posting an image online without consent.”

Tara Brown concluded,

“Digital abuse is a growing problem in Ireland, particularly for young women. We know that partners and ex-partners often use new technologies to monitor and harass women online, through mobile phone and texting, and through social media, often in combination with “more traditional” stalking tactics such as following, watching and abusive calls. The main features of digital abuse can include online shaming and stalking and the non-consensual sharing of explicit images on social media, but also in messaging platforms such as WhatsApp groups. It is clear that this is a form of abuse and control, and it is important that our legislation catches up to enable us to better protect women, and ensure that we can prosecute perpetrators. We cannot effectively tackle violence against women until we recognise women’s right to safely participate in all spaces, we have mechanisms whereby perpetrators are held accountable and women’s experiences are taken seriously.”

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