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Activists welcome ‘revenge porn’ changes

Campaigners for victims of sex abuse have backed a move to amend the Criminal Code to target “revenge porn”.

Elaine Butterfield, the executive director of the Women's Resource Centre, said that a law that tackled sexual harassment where compromising photographs or videos are posted online would help “bring Bermuda's legislation into the modern era”.

She added: “The law has to align with the times, if not people fall through the cracks and will not receive the assistance and support they require.”

Ms Butterfield was speaking after the Ministry of Legal Affairs announced that there were plans to propose amendments to the Criminal Code to tackle the revenge pornography in cyberspace problem.

A ministry spokeswoman added: “Whilst there are no offences specific to ‘revenge pornography', there are offences that criminalise those actions under the Telecommunications Act 2011.

“The Ministry of Legal Affairs is aware of the benefit of having specialised provisions and will be proposing amendments to the Criminal Code.”

Ms Butterfield said that amendment would be “a major step forward for all of those affected”.

She added: “The sanctions need to be stringent so that it can be a deterrent. The community will become more aware and hopefully this can act as a deterrent to those who might not think twice about posting sexually explicit information about others online.”

Ms Butterfield said that revenge pornography was a recent phenomenon, but admitted that the crime had been evident “for a while”.

She said that men and women had been victims of revenge pornography, but that far more women had been victimised.

Ms Butterfield added that young people were particularly vulnerable because of their frequent use of digital technology and the internet.

Ms Butterfield said that revenge pornography was particularly damaging for small populations such as Bermuda and its use had put the reputations and jobs of victims at risk.

She added: “Victims will not only have to deal with the trauma of it occurring, but the shame of being harassed by the way such communication is shared in social media without reservation.”

Laurie Shiell, the executive director of the Centre Against Abuse, said there should also be amendments to the Telecommunications Act, Domestic Violence Protection Orders Act and Stalking Protection Orders Act in addition to the Criminal Code.

She said that the adjustments would be necessary to fit “the computer era that we are in”.

Ms Shiell said that the Centre Against Abuse had dealt with two allegations of revenge pornography since the start of the year.

But she added: “There have been many cases of threats to do this by abusers in order to maintain the power and control of a current or former partner.”

Ms Shiell said: “Should amendments be implemented, this would provide victims and the community with a clear guideline on their rights and what the court could implement as punishment to those who choose to utilise revenge porn.”

In the shadows: the Ministry of Legal Affairs announced that there were plans to propose amendments to the Criminal Code to tackle the revenge pornography in cyberspace problem (File photograph)

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Published October 06, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated October 06, 2020 at 8:26 am)

Activists welcome ‘revenge porn’ changes

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