Revenge Porn Bill Introduced In Parliament

12/10/2015 1:13 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:50 PM AEST
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CANBERRA --The sharing of sexually explicit material without consent would attract jail terms of up to five years under a private members bill introduced this morning in federal parliament.

Labor backbencher Tim Watts, introduced the bill to amend the criminal code, saying the humiliating and harassing practice known as “revenge porn” should be seen as a form of sexual assault and should not be tolerated in Australia.

Said to affect one in 10 Australians, offenders, both in ongoing or broken relationships, share explicit images to intimidate or humiliate the other party.

Watts cited a sexual exploitation case where a Muslim woman was left ashamed and humiliated after photographs of her in her bra and without her hijab were shared without her consent on Facebook.

“Both the actual and threatened distribution of these images without consent is a violation of a person’s autonomy -- of a person’s control over their own body,” Watts told Parliament.

“It should be seen as a form of sexual assault.”

Only one Australian jurisdiction, Victoria, has made distributing intimate images without consent a criminal offence.

Watts said Australia needs consistent national legislation and to be brought into line with other nations which have enacted similar laws, including the UK, several US states, Canada, Israel, Brazil and The Philippines.

The Turnbull Government has given no indication on whether it will support the bill, but it has been backed by several Government MPs, including Karen McNamara.

Watts said a recent Australian Research Council funded report revealed one in 10 Australians have had someone post, or sent to others, a nude or semi-nude image of them without their consent.

Watts told parliament that revenge porn is an “increasingly common manifestation of family violence,” which mostly affects women, but sometimes men.

Under the proposed law, a person could be jailed for three years for publishing or distributing private sexual material without consent.

A person could also be jailed for three years for threatening to distribute private sexual material without consent, regardless of whether the material exists or not.

A more serious offence of possessing, controlling, producing, supplying or obtaining private sexual material without consent would attract a five years jail sentence.

The bill was seconded by co-sponsor, Labor MP Terri Butler.

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