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UPSKIRTING & CONSENT

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UPSKIRTING & CONSENT

Featuring Hanna Seidel

Hanna Seidel, an activist and filmmaker, enters a conversation on consent and shares her journey on how she made upskirting illegal in Germany, her experience with sexual harassment and the police and why we need to support people and causes we believe in to create lasting change.

Available on your favourite platforms, via
“I was always able to tell my story from when I was 13 , and when I was 16 and how it felt, and how it affected my life.”
Personal Dimension
“Consent is very subjective but it’s important that we learn to listen to the person who feels that their consent is being mistreated. I think it is really important to talk more about this topic and to make people understand that everybody feels different and this is okay.”
Interpersonal Dimension
“What really helped was that we got so many responses from victims. Even until the end, some politicians didn’t really take us seriously for what we were doing. They thought it didn’t really matter. The police were sometimes very mean and cruel to me. That really deepened those wounds.”
Societal Dimension
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Key Terms and Definitions

Here we clarified key terms and definitions to understand the topic better.

“Downblousing is a description of the action taken, looking down a woman’s blouse to see her breasts.”

WordSense

“Public decency is a level of behaviour that is generally acceptable to the public and is not obscene, disgusting or shocking for the observers.”

Inbrief

“Upskirting is a form of sexual harassment. It normally involves taking a picture under a person’s clothing without them knowing with the intention of viewing their genitals or buttocks to obtain sexual gratification, or to cause upset to the victim. Upskirting often occurs in a public crowded place, making it hard for the victim to know that a photograph is being taken, victims are often distressed and feel humiliated. ”

EduCare

“Voyeurism is the activity of getting pleasure from secretly watching other people in sexual situations or, more generally, from watching other people’s private lives. ”

Cambridge Dictionary

Did you know… ?

Here are facts and figures on the topic.

In the first six years after the enactment of the new Law in Scotland, 142 were charged with upskirting, but only 19 were convicted, representing a 13 per cent conviction rate.

According to Police data from 2018, victims of Upskirting age between 7 to 70, with most females as victims and males as perpetrators. The data shows that victims were targeted in various public places like shops, work, streets, and even schools. Only a handful of cases resulted in a criminal charge.

According to data from 33 police departments in 2020, where stay-home orders due to Covid-19 restricted peoples’ movement, there were 196 complaints of upskirting in public places such as supermarkets, parks, and public transport.

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Upskirting Resources

Check out the following resources to learn more about nudity and consent.

They told me to change my clothes. I changed the law instead.

TED TALK

Gina Martin is widely known for creating and running the media and political campaign which made upskirting illegal and encourages each person to drive their own change. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.

Set of posters to raise awareness of gender-based violence

POSTER

Bold Voices has developed a set of activities and resources to start conversations about gender inequality and gender-based violence in the classroom.

Myth Busters

Upskirting and consent are topics that are often misunderstood because of the myths surrounding them, here we want to clean up some of the most prominent misconceptions.

Upskirting is a criminal act that happens in isolation.

Upskirting is often supported by a scene of groups of men who commit such offences.

Various internet platforms and chat groups exist where men enable and encourage each other to commit criminal offences such as upskirting or downblousing and share these private images with each other without any consent of the victims.

Upskirting is no big deal.

Upskirting is a criminal offence in many countries.

Upskirting is no trivial act. Many non-consensual upskirt videos land on porn websites. Therefore, upskirting is a form of Image-based sexual abuse.

Women should not wear skirts or dresses to prevent upskirting.

It is attitudes of sexual entitlement and not women’s attire that cause such acts to prevail.

To blame crimes such as upskirting on the way women dress is victim-blaming. Men need to bear the consequences for non-consensual behaviour, which includes upskirting and downblousing. There is no need to speak about women’s clothes when it comes to men’s criminal offences.

How to…

Check out these guidelines that help you to have conversations on consent.

… spot a person upskirting.

Advice: Oftentimes people who commit upskirting are using devices on their shoes or other support items. If a person is behaving in a strange way, standing very close, be alert of unusual behaviour; especially involving phones or other types of cameras.

... handle an upskirting situation.

Advice: If you spot an upskirting incident or have fallen victim to an upskirting incident then seek help from others. Perpetrators are oftentimes aggressive if they have been found out and may threaten with physical violence when asked to delete the photos or videos.

… report an upskirting incident.

Advice: Be aware that police oftentimes are not aware of upskirting laws. Therefore, be sure to know the legal situation in your country in order to report an upskirting incident.

Upskirting and Consent Cases

Here we highlight prominent cases.

Gina Martin

CASE:
Gina Martin was with her sister at the British Summer Time music festival in Hyde Park in 2018 when two men with their phones took a picture up her skirt. She took their phone to the security guards, who then called the police.

ANALYSIS:
Festivals are common locations where upskirting photos are being taken. No matter where women are or how they are dressed, it never gives anyone permission to take unwanted photos of their most intimate body parts. Gina Martin later introduced the law against upskirting in the UK.

Jonathan Drake

CASE:
Property developer Jonathan Drake, 47, kept hundreds of clips of women he had filmed without their permission on the computer at his home in Wenvoe, Wales. His wife complained about him to the South Wales police after discovering the images and videos. Some of those included clips taken in public toilets. The court found him guilty and he was jailed for 14 months and ordered to register as a sex offender for 10 years.

ANALYSIS:
This case shows that upskirting images are part of a wider array of violence that is being perpetrated against women. Such criminal offences hardly happen in isolation and are oftentimes linked to a scene in which men support each other to take non-consensual photos of women and share them online.

Know Your Rights

Image-based sexual abuse has become more widespread in the past decade with the increasing prevalence and use of smartphones and digital cameras. The heightened visibility of these crimes has led to increased recognition of their seriousness and impact, with new laws and regulations developed to combat them.

Interpretations of Consent and Upskirting

According to each country data protection and privacy rights differ.

England and Wales

Until 2019, offenders could only be prosecuted for voyeurism or outraging public decency. But voyeurism would only apply to filming in “private” while outraging public decency usually requires a witness – and upskirting often goes unobserved. Within the new law, the government has created a specific offence of upskirting where the purpose is to obtain sexual gratification or to cause humiliation, distress or alarm. The new offences apply in instances when:

  • Without consent, a person takes pictures beneath a person’s clothing to observe their genitals or buttocks, whether covered or uncovered by underwear
  • The offender has a motive of either gaining sexual gratification or causing humiliation, distress or alarm to the victim
    The Voyeurism (Offences) Act 2019 also ensures that the most serious offenders, where the purpose of the offence is for sexual gratification, are made subject to notification requirements (often referred to as being placed on the sex offenders’ register).

Law: Voyeurism (Offences) Act 2019
(Voyeurism (Offences) Act 2019)

Scotland

‘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 act expands the definition of voyeurism contained in the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009. Before this amendment, voyeurism applied only to observing or filming a person doing ‘a private act’, making it difficult to prosecute offences that happened when the victim was simply walking down the street or using public transport. The new law includes ‘operat[ing] equipment beneath [a person’s] clothing, but it also specifies that an act constitutes voyeurism if committed with one of two purposes:

  • obtaining sexual gratification,
  • humiliating, distressing or alarming [the victim]

Law: Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010
(Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010)

France

France amended a bill on sexual violence and street harassment to make “filming of improper images” a criminal offence and punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine of up to €30,000. Legislators passed those amendments since upskirting was becoming a crucial issue and concern in France, particularly on public transports such as trains and buses.
Law: Law No. 2018-703 of 3 August 2018
(Combating sexual and gender-based violence – Senate)

BELGIUM

The Ecolo-Groen group in the Parliament is introducing a bill to fill a gap in the legislation on voyeurism. Now that is only punishable when the victim is naked. In Belgium, voyeurism has been punishable as such since 1 February 2016.
Law: Belgium Criminal Code (article 371/1)
(LOI – WET (fgov.be))

LUXEMBOURG

A Bill has passed into a law amending the Penal Code to penalize voyeuristic behaviour, which includes filming or photographing a person naked or in their underwear without their knowledge. The new amendment also addresses any voyeurism-related behaviour, such as filming a person changing in a locker room without their permission, knowledge or filming under women’s skirts. Furthermore, the bill also suggests aggravating circumstances if the victim is minor, the incident has happened on public transport, or the photo/video has been circulated on social media. The sanctions outlined in the bill are fine up to 15,000 euros and imprisonment of between two months and two years. The change was inspired by a case from 2017, where a man had repeatedly filmed under women’s skirts on public transport, using a hidden camera in a handbag. The women brought charges against the man, but the case had to be closed due to lack of legal means.
Law: Luxembourg Criminal Code
(Journal officiel du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg)

GERMANY

On October 14, 2020, an amendment to the German Criminal Code that makes upskirting a crime was published in the German Federal Law Gazette. Upskirting refers to the act of taking photos or videos under women’s clothing without permission. The amendment will enter into force on January 1, 2021. The new provision is included in the chapter on sex offences. It criminalizes three different types of actions. It prohibits

  • purposefully or knowingly recording or transmitting an image of the genitalia or buttocks of another person, the female bust, or the underwear covering these body parts without permission insofar as these areas are protected from view;
  • using an image made in such a manner or making it available to a third person; and
  • knowingly making an image of one of those areas that were taken with permission available to a third person without permission.

Law: German Criminal Code
(Perma | Criminal Code)

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This campaign was produced with the financial support of the European Union within the framework of the European Union Sivil Düşün Programme. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Nicole Bogott/The Philia Project e.V. and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

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