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Revenge-porn is now illegal in Britain, sparking a monumental shift in rape culture

Four months after England and Wales created the law against sharing revenge porn, under the Criminal Justice and Courts Act, the first offender of said law has been officially sentenced. As of the 13h of April, it became illegal to share any photographs or films which show people engaged in sexual activity or depicted in a sexual way or with their genitals exposed, where what is shown would not usually be seen in public.” And of today, we take a step closer to defeating this hideous crime.

The law was partially sparked by the hacking and mass leak of nude photographs of various celebrities such as Jenifer Lawrence and Jill Scott, back in October 2014. Though this crime has been going on for as long as the internet has existed, “The Fappening,” was a big eye opener into how large scale nude leaks and revenge porn can get.

Back in April, 21 year old Jason Asagba ruthlessly shared nude photographs of his 20 year old ex-girlfriend to her friends and family. Well, as a full month passed he discovered he hadn’t gotten away with it. On the 15th of May he was officially charged with disclosing sexual photographs and films with intent to cause distress. And finally, his sentence has been carried out.

According to the Justice and Courts Act, any offender of the crime will be sentenced to two years in prison, which is exactly where Asagba is heading now.

This is a huge day for the history of rape culture and sexism; we’re one step closer to finally nipping this terrible crime in the bud, and many celebrities and civil servants agree.

Maria Miller, the former Culture secretary, spoke on the matter, saying: “By putting this in place, the government has given young women the opportunity to protect themselves from their lives being blighted. When you speak to the victims of these crimes, many say that it feels as if you’ve been virtually raped.”

Many anti-feminists will come out and say this is an overreaction, that “they are just photographs,” and that people like Asagba don’t deserve such a long sentence over a photograph, but Miller is right. This kind of violation comes right off the screen and slaps the victim in the face. Not only does the world see the victim’s body without consent, violating their privacy, but there is a huge sense of betrayal and loss when these images are shared. Trust becomes shattered, their sense of instinct for any new relationship after that becomes damaged, and they may see their body as something to hide when the subject of sex or sexting ever comes up again.

And even if it didn’t, even if the recovery process was simple, sharing such photos is still a form of theft, and most people don’t have a problem with sentencing when steakling a physical object is concerned. So why the hypocrisy?

Sexism is as usual the answer, since the majority “The Fappening” victims of this offense have been female. The majority of them were subsquently criticized for how “slutty” they are, yet when a male’s nudes are leaked – and let’s face it do any actually come to mind? – we see a trail of compliments flooding the comment feed. We have no problem with seeing a cute guy with nothing on, we have no problem jailing someone for stealing a car, but the moment we see some breasts; then it isn’t a problem. This too, in turn, can really mess with a woman’s sense of safety, and sense of self-worth.

Luckily laws like the Criminal Justice and Courts Act have helped many victims feel more comfortable with how their trauma has been received.

Revenge porn victim Hannah Thompson, then 18, now a campaigner against the crime, is one of countless women to first take the attack the way the offender wanted them to:

I spent months agonising over it and believing that it was my fault,” she stated, but she is optimistic that the new laws will change this, stating This new law, along with the advice helpline, empowers victims and clearly displays that they are not at fault. […] I hope all these changes provide victims with a route to justice and aid them in getting their images taken down.”

Now that England and Wales have this new law, and the first offender heading to jail where he belongs, we can hold out hope that the next time we see revenge porn statistics; that they will have decreased significantly.

Here’s hoping, and here’s hoping every other government out there will follow soon suit.

 

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Written by Stephanie Watson

Stephanie Watson, co-founder of Fembot, joined Fembot in 2010, and since then has gotten an honors degree in Psychology, and an HNC in Professional Writing. She also contributes to HelloGiggles, and hopes to make her way further in the journalistic world. As well as her love for opinionated journalism and social media, she also writes romantic prose and cryptic poetry, dabbling in minamalist painting too. Stephanie’s goals are of a personal creative kind, however through her articles and poetry she hopes to provoke change and discussion of social justice issues.

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