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Senators back revenge porn legislation

Sessions House in Hamilton (File photograph)

Legislation to ban “revenge porn” was yesterday approved unanimously by Senators.

They said the Criminal Code Amendment (Non-Consensual Sharing of Intimate Images) Act 2021 was a much needed tool to combat the weaponisation of intimate photographs and videos.

The new law 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.

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

Ernest Peets, the Minister of Youth, Culture and Sports, told the Senate that the legislation also strengthens provisions against recording people during intimate moments without their knowledge.

He said: “We are doing this for the protection of our community, the most vulnerable among us.”

Michelle Simmons, Vice President of the Senate, said she was very happy to see the bill move forward, describing revenge porn as “sexual and psychological abuse”.

She said the phenomenon was not new, but the rise of social media had allowed it to become far more widespread.

Ms Simmons added: “Steps need to be taken to deal with individuals who are abusing others in our community through these very dastardly acts.”

Robin Tucker, Opposition senator, said revenge porn had the potential to cause reputational and psychological harm, and Bermuda’s small community only made the impact worse.

She said: “This bill is definitely something that is needed and has been needed for quite some time.”

Ms Tucker however questioned why the law only allows a court order to remove the offending images after conviction, suggesting that if the order could be made immediately after a complaint to reduce the damage.

She also asked if there could me a mechanism added to allow restitution for victims.

Ms Tucker said: “Long term, victims may suffer tangible losses, embarrassment, potential for job losses, reputational damage and they may even have to bear the cost of having the materials removed.

“The cost of all of these should be borne by the perpetrator.”

Dr Peets responded that victims can seek restitution through civil actions.

He added that while a revenge porn case is before the courts, it is illegal to send the images to anyone.

Lindsey Simmons, a Government senator, said she knew one woman who had difficulty finding work because pictures of her had circulated, while another woman fell into depression.

Joan Dillas-Wright, the Senate president, added: “I had to counsel individuals who had not just been threatened, but been blackmailed.

“Even though it was not that easy to put it on the internet they were threatened physically and mentally.”

Marcus Jones, Opposition Senator, voiced his support for the legislation to tackle the issue, which he said was particularly prevalent amount young people.

He added: “It has become a scourge on our community.”

Mr Jones suggested stronger penalties for those who are convicted of such offences to ensure that would-be perpetrators are deterred and questioned how those under the age of 18 would be punished for offences under the Act.

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Published April 01, 2021 at 8:34 am (Updated April 01, 2021 at 8:34 am)

Senators back revenge porn legislation

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