Meet The Woman Changing The Law On Upskirt Photos

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Gina Martin was waiting for The Killers to come on stage at British Summer Time, in 30 degree heat, with her sister when a man took a photograph up her skirt.

Since the gross and ‘scary’ invasion of privacy, Gina tells UNILAD, her life has changed.

After feeling ‘angry’ and ‘humiliated’, the 26-year-old Londoner is now determined no more women will suffer the same injustice.

Meet The Woman Changing The Law On Upskirt Photos gina martin sister

Speaking to UNILAD, Gina recounted the day’s events:

ME AND MY SISTER HAD GONE TO WATCH THE KILLERS AT BRITISH SUMMER TIME. IT WAS 30 DEGREES AND SUNNY. WE WERE WAITING FOR THEM TO COME ON STAGE WHEN TWO GUYS STARTED HITTING ON ME.

ONE OF THEM KEPT GOING EVEN THOUGH I KEPT REJECTING HIS ADVANCES.

At some point he put his phone between Gina’s legs, positioned his camera up her skirt and took pictures of her crotch in broad daylight, which he sent to his companions around Gina to humiliate her.

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The freelance writer recalled the emotional fallout of the crime:

I WAS HUMILIATED AND SO ANGRY. I FELT LIKE A KID WHO WAS BEING BULLIED AND I WAS SCARED OF THEM. THEY WERE BIG AND THEY WERE SCARY.

Although upskirting is technically a punishable offence in English law, it’s notoriously hard to prosecute.

Thus, Gina was told she couldn’t prosecute because she was wearing knickers by police at the scene who were, she claims, understandably misinformed about a woefully complex law.

Gina and her lawyer, Ryan Whelan of Gibson Dunn and Crutcher, are now working to change the law.

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Gina said:

[THE AUTHORITIES] WERE REALLY LOVELY, THEY LOOKED AT THE PICTURE TO MAKE SURE IT WAS ME BUT THEN SAID THERE WASN’T MUCH THEY COULD DO AS I WAS WEARING KNICKERS AND IT WASN’T A ‘GRAPHIC IMAGE’.

THEY WERE OBVIOUSLY CONFUSED AROUND THE LAW – AND NOW WE CAN SEE WHY: IT’S SUCH A GREY AREA.

Upskirting is a crime which can currently be prosecuted under quirks of one of two offences.

Victims could allege voyeurism – but it only applies to an incident in a private place like your home or a changing room.

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On the other hand, offenders can be charged with Outraging Public Decency, a hundred-year-old law which protects the public – not the victim – from seeing anything lewd.

This charge is often used to prosecute urinating in public and moreover, it does not recognise upskirting as a crime with a victim – because it was invented 100 years ago when
not all women had the vote, let alone body autonomy.

In addition to this obvious ethical inadequacy, the outdated law is notoriously difficult to charge under because the assault must meet a series of requirements. For example, two or more people have to witness the assault.

Gina outlined the inadequacies, as well as other women’s experiences, on Sky News:

No wonder upskirting so often goes unpunished, when the judicial system fails to offer adequate support for the victim.

Judge and jury aside, the public debate surrounding upskirt photos continues to, ignorantly, put the onus on women and what they choose to wear.

Shockingly, Gina described being trolled after sharing her story online.

The systematic and ingrained objectification of women in the media perpetuates the attitudes of those who think women’s actions – even their clothes – and assault are connected. Newsflash: They aren’t.

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Gina argues the whole narrative needs to change:

I’M FAR MORE NERVOUS ABOUT WEARING WHAT I WANT NOW WHEN I’M IN GROUPS OF PEOPLE. I FEEL FAR MORE VULNERABLE THAN I DID.

I BELIEVE THE MEDIA HAS A HUGE AMOUNT TO ANSWER FOR. PAPARAZZI HAVE BEEN PULLING APART WOMEN’S BODIES AND MORE DISGUSTINGLY, TAKING PICTURES UP WOMEN’S SKIRTS FOR YEARS.

THEY NORMALISE THE SEXUALISATION OF WOMEN’S BODIES AND UPSKIRTING CONSTANTLY, SO WOMEN ARE TAUGHT THIS IS JUST PART OF BEING A WOMAN. IT SHOULDN’T BE.

So, months before Holly Willoughby called out paparazzi for taking upskirt photos at the National Television Awards, Gina started a campaign to make taking these vile photographs a specific crime.

The activist explained:

UPSKIRTING HAS LONG BEEN A FETISHISED TYPE OF PORNOGRAPHY, BUT WITH THE INTRODUCTION OF CAMERA PHONES IT’S BECOME AN EVERY DAY ASSAULT.

THE LAW JUST DOESN’T QUITE UNDERSTAND THE POWER OF DIGITAL AND HOW IT CAN BE USED TO ABUSE AND IT HASN’T CAUGHT UP YET.

Meet The Woman Changing The Law On Upskirt Photos Image uploaded from iOS 7

Scotland created purpose-built legislation against the crime of upskirting in 2009.

Gina is working to make sure legislators here follow suit.

She explained her solution, which is currently being discussed in Parliament:

WE HAVE PROPOSED TO AMEND THE CURRENT LAW WITH SPECIFIC LEGISLATION ON UPSKIRTING TO ENSURE ALL CASES CAN BE PROSECUTED.

WE ARE GOING TO CHANGE THE LAW AND MAKE UP SKIRTING A SPECIFIC OFFENCE IN ENGLAND AND WALES.

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Citing police data, which showed only 11 of 78 reported incidents were charged in relation to the practice since 2015 – a 10-year-old girl was among those targeted – Gina said this is ‘just the tip of the iceberg’.

She described the unique dangers of upskirting, adding:

THERE’S A FAILURE TO REPORT UPSKIRTING AS WOMEN DON’T THINK THE LAW SUPPORTS THEM IN EVERY INSTANCE – WHICH IT DOESN’T – AND MANY WOMEN DON’T EVEN KNOW IT’S HAPPENED TO THEM.

IT’S A SECRETIVE HARASSMENT. IT’S VERY COVERT AND AS IT’S NOTORIOUSLY HARD TO PROSECUTE IT JUST HASN’T BEEN IN THE PUBLIC CONSCIOUSNESS.

But, Gina enthuses, our culture is at a turning point and ‘we are starting to wake up to how everyday harassment is a huge part of the problem’.

Her campaign is undeniably a catalyst to this positive change.

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She continued:

THE CURRENT CLIMATE DEFINITELY MEANS UPSKIRT PHOTOS HAVE BEEN TAKEN SERIOUSLY BY THE PUBLIC AND MEDIA AND RECOGNISED A PROBLEM QUICKER THAN THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN IN THE PAST.

WE HAVE SUPPORT FROM MPS ACROSS ALL MAJOR POLITICAL PARTIES, LAW AUTHORITIES, POLICE HIGH COMMISSIONERS, 82,000 SIGNEES OF OUR PETITION AND THE COUNTRY’S BEST ACADEMICS.

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The Met Police, at the time of the incident, said they take ‘allegations of voyeurism seriously and does and will investigate them thoroughly’ using ‘a range of policing tactics’ to target this sort of criminal behaviour.

Gina hopes a change in legislation, while it won’t fix the systematic misogyny which drives offenders, will reassure victims they’ll be supported in the eyes of the law.

There’s hope, as we’ve seen with the specific criminalisation of revenge porn:

Now, as Gina puts it, we wait for the law to ‘catch up with digital technology and how it’s used to harass or abuse’ victims.

Just one woman walking the streets in fear is one too many and if this proposed law could make more feel safe, it cannot come soon enough.

To support Gina Martin and the campaign to end upskirting, sign the petition.

Source : Unilad

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