Search
  • Tara Hamil

Revenge Porn

Revenge pornography encapsulates the act of online distribution or publication of sexually explicit private images or films of an ex-girlfriend, boyfriend, or partner, without their consent and with a view to humiliating or causing distress for a perceived wrong or slight.


Revenge porn is a popular subject at the minute, with the Republic of Ireland bringing in tougher laws governing this issue in December 2020. The bill specifies that circulating such photos, videos, or other content, or threatening to do, so could mean a conviction involving an unlimited fine and seven years in prison. Zara McDermott, a former Love Island contestant, recently released a documentary about revenge porn, bringing to light her two personal experiences with this image-based crime.


I, like many people, watched the documentary the day it was released and found the whole episode distressing- knowing how young men and women can be victims of this awful crime which has the power to ruin your life, career, and trust. During the documentary, Zara met with victims as they discussed their own experiences. The documentary garnered a significant amount of attention, which is a step in the right direction, as it brings attention to this crime and educates people on the prevalence of this matter.





Years ago, this would have been a taboo subject, and no one really would have discussed it; however, I believe times are changing and people are becoming more and more informed on the issue. People can be manipulated and pressured into sending graphic images or could have simply had their trust violated. In the documentary, Zara explains how it impacted her family, her school life, and the people around her. People automatically judged her, told her she should be ashamed of herself for doing something like this when she was, in fact, a victim of a crime.


As the world is now evolving, people are better educated and understand that this is not the victim’s fault and we should not treat them any differently. I think it is important for educational documentaries like this to be shown in schools, along with Jesy Nelson’s documentary “Odd One Out” about cyber bullying. Society needs to realise that this subject is important to talk about and that it is not seen as being off limits.


Revenge pornography was criminalised in Northern Ireland via sections 51-53 of the Justice Act 2016. Section 51(1) (a) (b) of the Act makes it an offence to disclose a private sexual photograph or film of an individual who appears in the photograph or film without their consent, and with the intention of causing that individual distress. However, it is not an offence under section 51(2) of Act, if the disclosure of private sexual photographs or film is made solely to the individual who appears in the photo or film. The clear implications are that only disclosures of private sexual photos or films made to third parties, with intent to cause distress, would constitute an offence. With this act being in place, it helps bring justice to revenge porn to some degree, however the argument is it can be very hard to prove intent, that you intended to cause distress and harm to this person.


Megan Sims campaigned for the new legislation in the Republic of Ireland after photos of her were shared without consent. Ms Sims believes the laws, like the ones in Northern Ireland and England, are failing because, as mentioned previously, "it's very hard to prove intent" and "it is up to the victim to prove that intent". A spokesman for NI's Department of Justice (DOJ) told BBC News NI that Minister Naomi Long is "fully committed to playing her part in addressing this issue". Megan Sims has stated that its simply not strong enough in Northern Ireland and that is something that must be fixed.


In September 2020, according to The Guardian, the revenge porn helpline received 2,050 reports, which is the equivalent of nine reports every day and a 22% rise on the 1,685 reports it received in 2019. Additionally, in August 2020 the helpline dealt with 285 cases, a 63% increase on the 175 dealt with in August 2019. Of the images reported to the helpline, 94% were removed online – 22,515 images of the 23,913 reported.


According to Dr Aiwo Oriola from Ulster University who states in her research “whilst drawing on legislative and judicial responses to revenge pornography in England and Wales and other common law jurisdictions, this presentation critically reviews the provisions of sections 51- 53 of the Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 and highlights its inherent weaknesses. It also highlights civil remedies that could be available to victims of revenge pornography; and explores the legal responsibility of social media platforms, and the extent to which technical measures could be deployed alongside existing legal measures to combat online revenge pornography.”


It is great that victims of revenge porn have this helpline for support, in addition to the Justice Act 2016, however, as evidenced by Dr Oriola, more legislation and stricter rules must be put in place to bring impartiality to the victims of this horrible crime and put an end to revenge porn once and for all.



73 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All