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Women’s Aid welcome reforms on digital safety

The Law Reform Commission looked are revenge porn and voyeurism in their recent report

Written by Elise Goitia and posted in news

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The national organisation Women’s Aid has endorsed the Law Reform Commission's Report on Harmful Communications and Digital Safety, the proposals of which cover all-encompassing legislation to better protect women against digital abuse and stalking.

The report’s proposals include prevalent issues such as the sharing of explicit images without consent (‘revenge porn’), voyeurism (‘upskirting’), and stalking and harassment by digital means. These invasions of privacy often cause anxiety and depression, and ostracize victims from the people around them.

Margaret Martin, Director of Women’s Aid, says the report’s proposals are a pivotal step in bringing Ireland’s laws into the 21st century.

“Digital abuse in intimate relationships is real, it is harmful and it must be treated as a serious crime,” Martin said. “We have long been concerned about disclosures of digital abuse made to our National Freephone Helpline and other services.”

Women’s Aid provides support for women who are victims of domestic, dating, and digital abuse. In 2015, the organisation took a snapshot of their National Freephone Helpline and One to One services in recording disclosures of digital abuse. They recorded 293 reports from victims, showing just a glimpse into a phenomenon that continues to grow rapidly and threatens women every year.

In a recent EU wide study on the violence against women,12% of Irish women and girls over the age of 15 had experienced stalking at some point in their lives, with 50% being stalked, both physically and online, by a partner or ex (FRA, 2014).

The report aims to reform criminal law and establish a new statutory oversight system that would support and raise awareness of digital safety. It means to act as a catalyst for change in the reformation of Irish Law regarding the protection of women. Women’s Aid hopes that this report will push forward and the Government will enact new legislation that will make a significant difference in protecting women against digital abuse.

If you identify yourself as a victim of digital abuse and have experienced the sharing of images without your consent, voyeurism, anonymous abuse, or stalking and harassment, please contact Women's Aid or check out their guidelines on what to do next.

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Published October 5th, 2016
Tags women's rights online safety
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