Dealing with sexual harassment is an ongoing concern that people from around the world may face daily.
Often such cases can be harmful, not just physically, but also emotionally and mentally. In many cases, the government is stepping in to do all they can and make such actions punishable under law. In 2019 The Voyeurism (Offences) Act, commonly known as the “Upskirting Bill”, came into force in England and Wales. ‘Upskirting’ was made illegal in Scotland in 2010 by the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 when it was listed under the wider definition of voyeurism. The Northern Ireland Assembly included “Upskirting” and “Down Blousing” in its Justice (Sexual Offences and Trafficking Victims) Bill (April 2022) which also target adults masquerading as children online.
What is Upskirting?
Upskirting refers to the act of taking a photograph (also known as a “creepshot”*) under a person’s clothing without their permission with intention of obtaining sexual gratification, or to cause humiliation, distress or alarm. It is an alarmingly common occurrence and is usually performed in a public place, which is often crowded, which makes it hard to spot people taking such images. It is a form of image-based sexual abuse.
Anyone, and any gender, can be a victim and this behaviour is completely unacceptable.
How can upskirting affect somebody?
Being a victim of such an indecent act may make you feel incredibly uncomfortable and vulnerable, particularly if you are alone. If the person or persons responsible are exhibiting intimidating behaviours, then you may feel unable to confront them for fear of further discomfort and/or of being threatened. The knowledge that someone has taken potentially graphic images without consent can cause emotional distress for a long time after the event itself.
What punishment can upskirting perpetrators face
Perpetrators will face two years in prison. Upskirting, where committed to obtain sexual gratification, can result in the most serious offenders being placed on the sex offenders’ register.
The campaign to make “Upskirting” a criminal offence was publicised by Gina Martin, who was a victim of upskirting at a music festival in 2017.
Gina discovered that upskirting was not classified as a sexual offence and set out to change the law. Figures from the Crown Prosecution Service show that 16 men were convicted of 48 offences in the 12 months following the law change in England & Wales.
Most of the offences (33) took place in supermarkets and shops, with nine on public transport, five in the street and one in a school.
If you have been personally affected by upskirting and need support, then please contact us.
Here at Safeline, we provide specialist services to support people affected by sexual violence including:
- Counselling: We offer a variety of face-to-face and online therapy sessions where you can talk to someone you can trust about your reactions, your thoughts, your feelings, and your experiences within a private and confidential space.
- Prevention and Early Intervention programmes: Safeline deliver a range of projects, courses, and interventions to prevent child abuse both in and out of term time and in both Primary and Secondary Schools (link to Prevention page)
- Warwickshire Helpline: If you live in Warwickshire and need emotional support please ring our Warwickshire Helpline
- National Male Survivor Helpline: If an incident has occurred and you need emotional support or practical advice and you are male or identify as male then our National Male Survivor Helpline can help you – link to page.
- Independent Sexual Violence Advisors: ISVAs offer Independent, practical, and emotional support and information to victims of sexual violence crimes whether they are considering reporting to the police or have already done so. – link to page .
- Training: We train professionals, individuals, parents and teachers about sexual violence and how to support people who have been affected.