Upskirting will soon be illegal in England

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BTW

England and Wales just approved legislation criminalizing “upskirting”—the act of videotaping or photographing up a woman’s skirt—after a victim pushed for two years for legal ramifications.

In 2017, Gina Martin, now 26, caught a man laughing at a picture of her crotch when she was at a concert in London. She realized later that he may have taken the photo after he “rubbed up against” her, she recounted in an essay for the BBC in 2017.

She grabbed his phone and, after a swift altercation involving other members from the audience, she says she ran away with it and was able to give it to the police. Even though the police were supportive and eventually had the man delete the photo, she soon realized it was not a crime because the photo wasn’t “bad.”

“Unfortunately, I’ve had to look at the picture. It shows more than you’d like… but it’s not graphic,” the police told her, according to her essay in the BBC. “So there’s not much we can do because you can’t see anything bad.”

Martin also shared her account on her Facebook and Twitter, which went viral. She then started an online petition that garnered more than 111,000 signatures. 

Her campaign was picked up by members of Parliament, and on Tuesday, a bill was passed criminalizing the act, with offenders serving up to two years in jail, according to the BBC. The legislation is reportedly still waiting for the formal Royal Assent.

Meanwhile, the fight to criminalize upskirting remains a battle uphill in most American states. In 2014, a D.C. judge ruled that women didn’t have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in a public place and dismissed the case against a man whose phone had numerous photos of women’s buttocks and crotches taken without their consent at the Lincoln Memorial. Massachusetts criminalized it in 2014, while Texas followed suit in 2015 and New Jersey in 2016. The same year, a court in Georgia ruled it was not a criminal act when a man videotaped a woman from under her skirt while she was grocery shopping. 

Samira Sadeque

Samira Sadeque

Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque