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MPs support revenge porn laws

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Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs (Photograph supplied)

Laws to criminalise revenge porn received widespread support in the House of Assembly yesterday.

The Criminal Code Amendment (Non-Consensual Sharing of Intimate Images) Act 2021 was approved with the unanimous support of the Government and the Opposition.

Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, said the amendments would address the “weaponisation” of intimate pictures and video.

She said the advancement of technology had created “new tool for an old phenomenon” and made it easier for perpetrators to distribute intimate images taken with or without the victim’s consent.

The new law, if approved by the Senate, will make it a crime to observe, record or distribute images or video of a person carrying out private or intimate acts or showing intimate parts of their body without their knowledge or permission.

The legislation will also make it an offence to threaten distribute intimate images, even if such images do not exist.

Ms Simmons said the amendments also allow the Courts to file a rectification order for the removal, recovery, deletion or destruction of offending images after a successful prosecution.

She said the legislation would apply to cases with both adult and child victims, although she noted child pornography offences would also apply if the victim was underage.

Offenders could face a prison term of up to five years.

Scott Pearman, the Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs, said the OBA supported the legislation which helped to address some of the ills created by technology and social media.

Mr Pearman said: “It’s an amazing example of how quickly society can move, and the need of our laws to move quickly to keep up with it.”

He said educational campaigns - particularly in the schools - would also help to tackle the problem of revenge porn.

Ianthia Simmons-Wade, PLP backbencher, also backed the amendments, saying revenge porn was particularly harmful in a small island like Bermuda.

She said: “How would you feel if your son or daughter had a pornographic video sent to everyone in their school? They still have to live in Bermuda.”

Susan Jackson, OBA backbencher, said in some cases a three- to five-year period of imprisonment might not be enough of a penalty in the most serious cases given the lingering impact of such “malicious” offences.

She said: “It can destroy your employment, it can destroy your options for further education, it can destroy relationships.”

The legislation also received support from community groups including the Centre Against Abuse, the Women’s Resource Centre and Social Justice Bermuda.

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Published March 27, 2021 at 3:20 pm (Updated March 27, 2021 at 3:20 pm)

MPs support revenge porn laws

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