Criminalise 'Image-Based Sexual Abuse'
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Australia needs to criminalise 'image-based sexual abuse'. This includes but is not limited to:
- revenge porn - the non-consensual sharing of intimate images;
- morphed porn - the non-consensual doctoring of ordinary images into pornographic material; and
- parasite porn - the non-consensual sharing of ordinary images onto pornographic websites.
Online sexual exploitation can happen to anyone but it primarily affects women. It is used as a tool by perpetrators to harm, intimidate, control, threaten, misrepresent or sexually objectify their victims. Technology-facilitated abuse can cause significant harm to victims including emotional distress, violation, shame, humiliation, damage to their reputation and employability and disruption to their employment or education. Victims can fear for their safety and have suicidal thoughts and/or attempt suicide.
A national inquiry on 'revenge porn' has already taken place, and in early 2016 the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee recommended in a report that the Commonwealth Government and the states/territories make the 'non-consensual sharing of intimate images' a criminal offence. The Commonwealth and the majority of our states/territories are yet to enact such laws or any laws that specifically tackle sexual cybercrime in its various forms. (Seriously Australia, the US, UK, Wales, Canada and New Zealand are already on top of it)
Despite the Committee’s recommendations, the Federal Government has shifted its focus to civil penalties, in part due to the distressing and slow nature of criminal proceedings. A move which raises significant concerns because pursuing civil actions are arguably the most costly, lengthy, inaccessible and emotionally taxing features of our entire legal system. The criminalisation of ‘image-based sexual abuse’ would not only provide justice for victims but would also serve as a powerful deterrent.
Whilst there are challenges in enforcing laws in this area, such as matters of jurisdiction, the potential anonymity of perpetrators and the rapid dissemination of online material. The Commonwealth does have the tools to fight sexual cybercrime through empowering government agencies such as the recently expanded Office of the eSafety Commissioner, the AFP, and working with internet and social media providers.
Federal Government - A reporting tool won't be enough, please criminalise 'image-based sexual abuse'.
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