#MyImageMyChoice! Change laws on sharing private images without consent

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Our private images were leaked without our consent. But the police and law did not support us. Instead, we were blamed and disregarded.

Image-based sexual abuse includes ‘revenge porn’, deepfakes and ‘sextortion’. This abuse can be devastating and even life-threatening. But in England, these aren’t sexual offences. As a victim, you have no right to anonymity, and it’s very unlikely you’ll be able to pursue legal action. Perpetrators can even avoid charges by saying "I did it for a laugh”. No laws cover fake media. 

My name is Ellesha. When my ex-partner uploaded non-consensual intimate videos of me to PornHub, I reported him to the police. I learned he had an extensive record for offences against women, but my case was dropped. The police said I couldn’t prove my ex intended to cause distress, and questioned my story, morals and character. I was devastated. 

And my name is Ruby. On one day in June me and 30 women from my hometown discovered our private images on a forum and all individually alerted the police. They responded with victim-blaming, apathy and incompetence. We're not alone. Only a fraction of victims get resolution from police and law. In 2017/18, only 7% of cases led to charges.

We don’t want anyone else to go through what we did. That’s why we’ve created a coalition of survivors and advocates to launch the campaign #MyImageMyChoice. We’re calling on the government to strengthen and update our failing laws. 

We urgently need to reform criminal law and close loopholes. Our recommendations are from 'Shattering lives and myths: a report on image-based sexual abuse’ (McGlynn et al) calling for laws to:

  1. Recognise image-based sexual abuse as a sexual offence
  2. Extend automatic anonymity to all complainants
  3. Cover all forms of this abuse including threats and fake media
  4. Remove motive requirements (often impossible to prove)
  5. Extend civil legal aid to cover legal advice for these offences

This is especially vital right now, because the Law Commission is launching a public consultation on a Review. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to change the laws. But criminal law alone won’t solve this problem. That’s why we’re calling for a new bill in government. We desperately need better policy on education, enforcement, platform responsibility, and funding for victim services. We’re also asking for 'image-based sexual abuse' to replace ‘revenge porn’, which implies blame on victims and falsely labels private images ‘porn’. 

We should all have a right to privacy and agency over images of our bodies. Please sign and share this petition with the hashtag #MyImageMyChoice to call on lawmakers to ensure that victims of image-based sexual abuse get the protection and justice they deserve. 

Thank you, Ellesha, Ruby and the #MyImageMyChoice campaign