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Leading Barrister Calls for the End of Term ‘Revenge Porn’

With the topic of revenge porn being discussed in the media, Grace Gwynne, Family and Personal Injury barrister at No5 Barristers’ Chambers has called for the term to be changed to end the stigma many victims face.

“There is only one crime in the UK that includes revenge in the name and that is ‘revenge porn’. Unfortunately, the title of this crime leads the public to believe that victims must have done something to deserve having private images and videos shared without their consent. This is never the case.

“To put it simply, it is misleading that we blanket refer to a crime as ‘revenge’. Victims shouldn’t have to infer that changing their actions could have prevented experiencing the wrongdoing and continue the cycle of victim blaming that has been prevalent in sexual and gender-based crimes.

“It is also my opinion that this isn’t the only part of the title ‘revenge porn’ that needs to change. If the victim is unaware that they are being filmed, then they are not creating pornography so how can the name of the crime suggest that they were?

“There are better terms that should be widely adopted both within the legal profession and with the public to stop the inference of victim blaming. Image or video-based abuse are more accurate terms to what sufferers’ experience. In cases where the content has been shared over the internet, the term online abuse is more fitting.

“From my case experience, perpetrators of this crime have been people who have exited a relationship and then proceeded to share graphic content with the calculated intent of humiliating their ex-partner. Between April 2020 and June 2022, the Crown Prosecution Service charged 1,048 image-based abuse offences across 825 cases and yet in 2018-2021, 18,700 incidents were reported to police.[1][2]

“Only made illegal in the 2015 Criminal Justice and Courts Act, it states that it is an offence for a person to disclose a private sexual photograph or film if the disclosure is made—

  1. without the consent of an individual who appears in the photograph or film, and
  2. with the intention of causing that individual distress.

“Courts are only just starting to become comfortable with prosecuting and charging those who commit image or video-based abuse offences. In the first instance, many of those who are found guilty only receive community service or a monetary fine. More malicious crimes can result in two years imprisonment.

“No crime in the UK should infer that the victim is to blame in its title. By making a small change to image-based abuse, we can help reduce the stigma that many face when taking their abuser to court to hold them accountable for their crimes. It’s a simple change that can help positively impact an incredibly large issue in people’s lives.”

For more information visit, www.no5.com

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