“Campaigners call for revenge porn victims to be given anonymity”

Campaign groups have called on the government to grant anonymity to revenge porn victims amid concern publicity surrounding convictions only causes more people to search for explicit images.

MPs have been urged to close a legal loophole and see revenge porn brought in line with sex offences, which ban victims from being identified.

Campaigners fear the new law – introduced in April amid a flurry of high profile cases involving celebrities – does not protect those who find their private and sexual images shared on the internet without their consent.

Lucy Hastings, director of independent charity Victim Support, said people may be reluctant to give evidence if they fear their name will be made public.

She said: “Without anonymity a victim testifying in court faces the very real risk of their name and details being reported in the press, which could also lead to the offending images or videos being shared more widely.

“[Victims] need to have confidence that they will be treated sensitively and respectfully, and a guarantee of anonymity would surely encourage more victims to report these serious offences.”

Jill Saward, who has spent nearly 30 years campaigning for sex abuse victims since she was raped in 1986, said anonymity for revenge porn victims was overlooked when the law was “rushed through” this year.

It contrasts with anonymity rules in place at the time of her case – which became known as the Ealing Vicarage rape – when Saward was not allowed to know the name of her rapist until the day of the court hearing.

“Naming victims could present all sorts of problems. Once things are out there, and there’s a name attached, anybody can do anything with it,” she said.

“This needs to be listed as a sexual offence and the victims deserve protection.”

Ann Olivarius, managing partner at McAllister Olivarius, said revenge porn images were given “new life” when the victim’s name was made public through the court process.

She said: “The trolls come out. They search the internet for the images, which are then reposted, screen-grabbed and given new life.”

Full article here

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