Gina Martin was just trying to enjoy herself at a music festival when some creepy guy tried to take a picture up her skirt with his mobile phone. Luckily, she managed to grab his phone and took it to one of the police officers on patrol at the festival.
You’d think that would be enough evidence for them to arrest the pervert, but you’d be wrong. She was told that no crime had even been committed and they weren’t going to do anything about it.
Since then Martin has campaigned for ‘upskirting‘ to be made illegal under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. Whilst it is a common decency offence, it often sees those taking photos get away with only a £20 fine.
Material from these incidents is also being hosted on numerous porn sites on the internet. Women on the train, in the supermarket, or just on the street are being exploited by creepy guys with cameras. The police in the UK have noted a rising number of these incidents as spy cameras and smartphones become more available.
Martin told International Business Times:
“The fact that this is such a big online industry shows how normalised lack of consent has become,”
“Making upskirting a Sexual Offence in the UK & Wales is the only effective way of capturing everyone who commits this act, regardless of where they are, how they do it and who sees them.
“We have to decide what kind of society we want to be and deter this behaviour because the law is failing the women of UK and Wales. As the law stands, upskirting is an offence against public morals, not the individual.”
So far two of the UK’s largest porn sites have started taking down these sorts of video, but the battle is far from over. The UK government is considering changing the law and their decision can’t come soon enough.
Dame Vera Baird, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner said:
“I think you have to regard both the person who films it as a criminal [and] the person who passes it on, who has added to their criminality by that deliberate act and by not merely keeping it for their own gratification but ensuring it goes wider.
“It’s a little bit like gang rape.”
“For everyday purposes, it’s absolutely imperative that there’s a straightforward offence for this because clearly, it is a sexual violation, clearly it is using women’s bodies as public property for sexual gratification and as such not that far away from actually touching somebody inappropriately.”
“It’s very intrusive. And a real concern since this [campaign] has started to happen and become public is women asking ‘has it happened to me? What can I do? Should I be wearing different clothes? Ought I not go to these places?’
“That’s not how the world should work for women.”