New legislation has been passed by the House of Lords in Britain which will make ‘upskirting’ an official crime. ‘Upskirting’ refers to taking a picture underneath a person’s skirt without their knowledge or consent.
Gina Martin, the woman who launched the campaign to make upskirting a crime after having a picture taken of her underwear without consent at a music festival 18 months ago, said that the decision was “politics and society at its best”. Speaking to the press after the legislation had been passed, Ms Martin said: “18 months ago, I was upskirted at a music festival and I decided I wasn’t going to brush it off. I was tired of ‘ignoring it’.
I felt this was wrong and I was astounded to learn that upskirting wasn’t a sexual offence. I wanted to change this for everyone because the least we deserve is to be able to wear what we want without non-consensual photos being taken of us.”
After the incident (where a man put his phone between her legs to take a photo), Ms Martin was shocked to find that it was not a criminal offence, even though in Scotland, the act had been criminalized since 2010. She posted a Facebook status detailing her experience, which then went viral.
Related: Glass Ceilings: How cultural and institutional sexism enable upskirting
Subsequently, an online petition was produced and received 50,000 signatures to get her case reopened by the police. The case was then taken by the government and was expected to pass through the House of Commons, but it was objected to by Conservative MP Sir Christopher Chope, who is known for regularly blocking private members bills, which the upskirting bill was.
With support from Prime Minister Theresa May, the bill was pushed again and secured government support on July 15 last year. The new legislation will now see offenders face jail time of up to two years.
— Gina Martin (@ginamartin_uk) January 15, 2019
Image: Gina Martin pictured with her lawyer Ryan Whelan