Saturday, May 15, 2021
Times of Georgia
HomePoliticalDistributing Intimate Images Without Consent Will Make You A Sex Criminal

Distributing Intimate Images Without Consent Will Make You A Sex Criminal

Sexual harm using images will earn up to three years
imprisonment if the proposed amendments to the Harmful
Digital Communications Bill go through.

The amendment
would deem the individual distributor of intimate recordings
without consent liable to up to three years imprisonment or
a fine of up to $50,000.

Corporates may be fined up to
$200,000 and the bill would give courts the power to direct
online platforms to get images and recordings taken

According to The Light
Project coordinator, Nikki Denholm, sharing of nudes online
is the top-hit on the organisation’s ‘in the know’
search tool. The Light Project is a charitable trust which
helps communities navigate the new online porn

Jo Roberston, a sex therapist and research
and training lead for The Light Project, says
image-based abuse committed by a current or previous partner
is a unique form of betrayal. She said it often came with
similar symptoms to a person with PTSD.

“They feel
they are to blame, that they must have done something to
create this situation or experience gaslighting by others as
using phrases like ‘you should have known better’ or
‘you didn’t think’ rather than focussing on the person
who posted.”

Victims of image-based sexual abuse may
feel less entitled to their pain given they were never
assaulted physically. 

“Their pain
can be, by some, minimised or laughed off as ‘just a

“There is no hierarchy in trauma, the pain
of image-based abuse needs to be validated and worked

Otago University’s Dr Cathy Stephenson
says revenge porn is no less-impacting than other forms of
sexual violence. Stephenson, a GP and a senior clinical
lecturer in sexual violence and partner violence, said the
sharing of sexually explicit material including photos and
videos is increasing at an alarming rate.

“The harm
that this can cause to the victim both emotionally and
psychologically is very real and can persist for years. Any
change to our legislation that reduces the impact of this
type of abuse can only be a positive step,” Dr Stephenson

Jahla Lawrence wants the amendment to include
synthesised media or deep fakes in the definition of
intimate visual recordings.

Lawrence, national
co-ordinator of Thursdays in Black movement against sexual
violence, wants the changes to make it clear that it is
illegal to solicit intimate visual recordings from a

“It also needs to make an explicit
understanding that image-based sexual abuse is a continuum
that exists long beyond just revenge pornography which is
just one, quite limited example.”

She says victims
of image-based sexual abuse cannot access ACC counselling in
the same way that other victims of sexual abuse

“This amendment is saying it takes
responsibility away from the survivors to justify their harm
and it says that non-consensual sharing of intimate
recordings is in itself harmful, and it’s not up to the
victim to defend that.”

Ellie Franco Williams is
a post-graduate journalism student at Massey University in


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