WA introduce new laws for revenge porn

Attorney General John Quiqley. Image supplied.
Attorney General John Quiqley. Image supplied.

Sharing intimate images of someone without their permission will attract jail time of up to three years, after new laws passed in WA's parliament on Tuesday.

The Criminal Law Amendment (Intimate Images) Bill makes the non-consensual distribution of intimate images, or ‘revenge porn’, a crime which will attract jail time of either 18 months or three years and/or a fine of up to $18,000.

The new law will not make it a criminal offence for consenting parties to exchange intimate images, only to circulate them further without the consent of the person depicted in the image.

It also empowers courts to make a rectification order requiring a person charged with the new offence to remove or destroy the images in question, and ensures that existing threat offences apply to a threat to distribute an intimate image.

In the case of someone under 16, the law says they cannot legally consent to an image of themselves being shared.

The law aims to strike a balance between protecting young people from this harmful behaviour, and not unduly criminalising them.

Research

New research, which will be published by RMIT University next month, revealed that one in 10 people have committed image-based sexual abuse.

RMIT researchers led an online survey of more than 4,200 people aged 16 to 49.

They found nearly 9 per cent of people had taken a nude or sexual photo or video of someone else without their consent, while more than 6 per cent had shared or distributed one.

RMIT research fellow associate professor Nicola Henry said image-based abuse was much more than revenge porn.

Ms Henry said image-based abuse was a complex and diverse problem, and this was the first time they had been able to quantify the perpetration of it among a large sample of Australian adults.

“Perpetration could range from up-skirting and down-blousing to a partner out to get revenge after a break up by sharing or threatening to distribute images," she said.

“We also know of computer hackers accessing a victim’s webcam and their personal computer files as well as sexual assaults or rapes being filmed.”

The survey found many respondents held victim blaming-attitudes towards image-based sexual abuse:

  • Men were significantly more likely than women to self-report being a perpetrator of image-based sexual abuse
  • Offenders were more likely to share photos or videos of people they knew such as a partner, ex-partner, friend or family member
  • Lesbian, gay and bisexual survey participants were more likely than heterosexual participants to engage in image-based sexual abuse
  • Victims were also more likely to have self-reported as a perpetrator, however, being a victim did not always lead to offending.

Legislation

The new laws have made it a crime to distribute an intimate image without the consent of the person in the image.

An 'intimate image' can include an image of the person naked, partially naked, or in their underwear; and an image of a person engaged in a private act, such as using the toilet, showering or bathing.

It could be still or moving (such as photo or a video) and also includes edited images – for example, where someone's face is superimposed or photo-shopped onto another person's body.

Under the new law, an 'intimate image' does not include images of people in circumstances in which they would not reasonably expect to be afforded privacy; for example, an image of a person in their bathers at the beach, or a model in underwear on a catwalk.

A campaign will be launched to increase awareness of the new laws before they come into effect on April 15, 2019.

Attorney General John Quigley said the state government had brought the law into line with advances in technology to address the growing prevalence of image-based abuse.

Mr Quiqley said this form of abuse was serious, harmful and completely unacceptable, and that was why tough penalties were introduced for people who violated another person's privacy and dignity in this way.

“Under the new laws, perpetrators could spend up to three years behind bars," he said.

“Image-based abuse also extends beyond the scenario of ex-partners sharing an intimate image without consent to seek revenge.

“It has emerged as an increasingly common feature in family and domestic violence cases, used as a means of coercing and controlling the victim, and it is also used to facilitate so-called ‘sextortion’.

“Criminalising this degrading and dehumanising practice is long overdue and it will no longer be tolerated.”

This story Revenge porn attracts jail time in WA first appeared on Busselton-Dunsborough Mail.