Cracking down on Image Based Sexual Abuse

Current Strictly Come Dancing contestant, Zara McDermott, a reality show star turned documentary maker, is a strong advocate for anti-abuse laws safeguarding women and girls in the online world. Since gaining a public profile after appearing on Love Island in 2018 she has actively collaborated with government agencies such as the Home Office on initiatives to combat violence against women and girls. Notably, her contributions played a pivotal role in amending the law to protect victims of digital abuse. Her own harrowing experiences as a victim of revenge porn, occurring at two significant points in her life, have driven her to push for these necessary legal protections.

Her first ordeal took place at the young age of 14 when she was coerced by a boy at school into sharing intimate images of herself, only to have them shamelessly distributed. Then, at 21, during her appearance on ITV’s Love Island, McDermott found herself in the unfortunate position of having her personal images again circulated on WhatsApp.

The UK government, responding to the pressing issue of 'revenge porn,' declared its intent to introduce more stringent laws in November 2022. The proposed amendments to the Online Safety Bill aim to deter abusers from sharing intimate images without consent and also ban other practices such as 'downblousing.'

In a heartfelt video supporting these legislative changes, Zara McDermott, conveyed the profound impact of such violations on the lives of victims. She emphasized the life-shattering consequences of these acts and bravely shared her own experiences. You can see more of Zara discussing her image based sexual abuse experience on the following link.

Statistics reveal that as many as one in 14 people in England and Wales have faced threats related to the exposure of their intimate images.

After passing its final Parliamentary debate on 19 September 2023, The Online Safety Bill has reached a significant milestone, and is now poised to become law. This legislation marks a critical step toward implementing child protection laws, while also empowering adults to take control of their online experiences and preserving mental well-being.

The bill encompasses new laws aimed at decisively addressing online fraud and violence against women and girls. It will streamline the process of convicting individuals who share intimate images without consent and further criminalize the non-consensual distribution of intimate deepfakes. These legal amendments are expected to increase the number of convictions and offer better protection for the public, with a maximum penalty of 6 months in custody for those found guilty of these offenses.

This news has been welcomed by Georgia Harrison, another former Love Island star. She has previously highlighted the prevalence of violence against women and girls in the UK, specifically after her own experience, which you can read more about here, with one in three women having experienced online abuse or harassment. The dedicated campaigner commented: “The Online Safety bill is going to help bring this to an end, by holding social media companies accountable to protect women and girls from online abuse.”

Saunders Law recognizes the profound impact of revenge porn on individuals. Their team of knowledgeable solicitors, equipped with a multidisciplinary approach, is dedicated to swiftly pursuing legal actions to address this complex issue. If you find yourself affected by the concerns raised on this page and want to discuss your legal position in a confidential setting, please don't hesitate to reach out to our experienced professionals.

Call us on 020 7315 4801 or make an enquiry online.


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