Upskirting Set To Be Criminalised In England And Wales, Thanks To Viral Facebook Post

Upskirting Set To Be Criminalised In England And Wales, Thanks To Viral Facebook Post

A year and a half after Gina Martin began a campaign against taking invasive photos, the British Parliament’s House of Lords has approved legislation that would make taking upskirt photos a criminal offence punishable of up to two years in prison, in England and Wales, reports the BBC.

“Eighteen months ago I was upskirted at a music festival and I decided I wasn’t going to brush it off,” Martin told the BBC.

Martin was attending a concert by the band the Killers in London when a man took an upskirt photo of her. She reported the incident to police, who took no action because it was not considered a crime.

“I felt this was wrong and I was astounded to learn that upskirting wasn’t a sexual offence,” she told the BBC. “I wanted to change this for everyone, because the least we deserve is to be able to wear what we want without non-consensual photos being taken of us.”

Martin posted about her experience on Facebook. Her story went viral and inspired an online petition to reopen her case, which received 50,000 signatures. MP Wera Hobhouse took notice and brought a bill that would make taking upskirt photos without consent a criminal offence.

The bill essentially died when a conservative MP Sir Christopher Chope objected, reportedly because he didn’t approve of legislation brought up at the end of the week without time for debate. The objection brought out calls of “shame” within the House of Commons, and some ornamentation on Chope’s office door.

Then Prime Minister Theresa May got involved, saying she was “disappointed” that the objection had prevented the bill from progressing, as it only takes one objection to halt progress.

The initiative finally secured government support in July, and a bill was put before Parliament. The legislation was approved by the House of Lords on Tuesday, and will now go to the Royal Assent for approval.

Upskirting has been illegal in Scotland for nine years. It’s still legal in many U.S. states.

[Parliament, BBC]