Surge in demand for ‘revenge porn’ advice in Scotland

Demand for advice on the law surrounding the sharing of intimate images doubled last year, a consumer advice group has revealed. Picture: John Devlin
Demand for advice on the law surrounding the sharing of intimate images doubled last year, a consumer advice group has revealed. Picture: John Devlin
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Demand for advice on the law surrounding the sharing of intimate images doubled last year, a consumer advice group has revealed.

Citizens Advice Scotland said its advice page on the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act, which makes it a crime to share intimate images or videos, send them to another person, upload them to a website or threaten to do this without the person’s consent, received 43,000 page views in the year from December 2018.

It added that demand for information rocketed in the second half of the year. From December 2018 to May 2019 the page received around 13,000 unique page views, but from June to November 2019, this increased to more than 30,000 unique page views.

Citizens Advice Scotland spokeswoman Gillian Fyfe said people needed to be aware that sharing intimate images or video without a person’s consent is a crime in Scotland.

She said: “The past year has seen a spike in traffic to our Advice for Scotland page around intimate images being shared without people’s consent.

“The relevant law here is still fairly new, so it’s important that people know and understand that sharing intimate images is a crime in Scotland.”

She added: “No matter why an image or video was taken or sent, most people don’t expect or want them being shared more widely.

“The experience can be incredibly distressing and many won’t want to speak out, but people should know that if they have been a victim of this crime they have rights and can report it to the police.”

Women’s charities said victims should have “zero tolerance” to the sharing of images.

Sandy Brindley, spokeswoman for Rape Crisis Scotland, said: “Sharing or threatening to share someone’s personal or intimate images without their consent is an awful and abusive violation. The impact on those who experience it is serious and can be devastating, with survivors self-harming and even feeling suicidal as a result.

“Fundamentally these crimes are about power and control and there should be zero tolerance at every level so that anyone whoexperiences this crime can be confident that they will be taken seriously and assured that there will be consequences for those who abuse their power in this way.”

A spokeswoman for Scottish Women’s Aid said: “Sharing intimate images without consent is an abusive behaviour that reeks of men’s patriarchal sense of entitlement to women’s bodies.

“It is a violation of trust that causes devastating harm to victims.

“Women who have experienced domestic abuse, either from a partner or ex-partner, have told us how perpetrators use intimate images as yet another way to control them. By telling her he can and will share these images, the abuser creates more fear, more control, more terror.”

She added: “Sharing intimate images without consent, or threatening to do so, is illegal. It is completely unacceptable and it is never the victim’s fault.”