Note: This post has been moved from Latest Picks due to length of extended updates.
Revolving around an encounter at the British Summertime Festival that was widely reported in the news in the first week of July.
“When a man took a picture up Gina Martin’s skirt when she was enjoying herself at a festival, she was sure he could be punished. However, after being told he did nothing illegal, she has taken things into her own hands and started a campaign which has reverberated across the country—to make ‘upskirting’ a specific offence under the law. After seeing the man standing in front of her had an image of a woman’s bare legs and crotch on his phone screen, she realised it was of her. She thought quickly and grabbed the phone, giving it to the festival staff, who called the police. The police arrived and asked the man to delete the photo. However, five days later, Ms Martin was told the case was closed as the police said the man hadn’t broken any laws.Ms Martin, a 25-year-old writer from London, started a petition to change this.
“The campaign to make upskirt photos illegal under the Sexual Offences Act of 2003 has been signed by more than 53,000 people.”
With, despite a camera being stuck up under her skirt it seemingly not being illegal because she had underwear on and she was not in a private place.
“Men who have taken ‘upskirt’ photographs have been prosecuted before under different laws. If Ms Martin had been in a place which would reasonably be expected to provide privacy, such as her home or a changing room, it could amount to voyeurism under section 67 of the Sexual Offences Act. However, a festival field would not fit under the remit of this law. ‘Upskirting’ can also come under the criminal offence of ‘outraging public decency’ if two or more people see the photograph—but in Ms Miller’s case, no such charge was made. ”
Which with a camera now seemingly on every device and even disguised as pens or coat hooks (dailymail.co.uk, Apr. 2017), yeah, is a loophole that needs to be closed for sure.
“Ms Martin also doesn’t think it is good enough that it can only fall under outraging public decency to take a photograph up a woman’s skirt. She told the BBC: ‘I found out that the one law I could charge under was an old common law called ‘outraging public decency’—a law that states something lewd or indecent happened in public and at least two people saw it. Ironically, it is usually applied to flashers. So, to put it plainly, the only law that protects a victim of upskirting in England and Wales is one that worries about what the public saw, not the victim who’s been harassed.”
Updated 5th September 2017
“David Lidington, the Justice Secretary, said that he takes the issue ‘very seriously’ and is taking legal advice on whether it can be added to the Sexual Offences Act 2003. … Mr Lidington’s intervention came in the Commons after Richard Burgon, the shadow justice minister, said that he had signed Ms Martin’s petition. He said: ‘This summer I was proud to sign up to the campaign launched by Gina Martin to change the law so that the disgraceful practice known as upskirting was made a criminal offence.’ Mr Lidington responded: ‘I have taken very seriously the representations made not only by Gina Martin but from police and crime commissioners around the country. I have asked for detailed advice of this but I hope the hon gentleman will understand that before proceeding to a commitment to legislation I want to be absolutely certain this would be the right course to take.’”
However, although 10,000 signatures is required to get a response from government, 100,000 signatures are required for it to be considered for a debate in Parliament: How petitions work (parliament.uk).
Updated 9th November 2017
And it is certainly heading for that debate, now amassing 71,000 signatures.
MPs back victim’s calls for “upskirting” to be made illegal (standard.co.uk).
“Under Scottish law ‘upskirting’is a sexual offence and today all 12 Scottish Conservative backbench MPs announced their support for Ms Martin’s campaign. … Ms Martin told the Standard: ‘I think women in general are told to brush off something like having a pervy photo taken of you as if it’s not a massive deal, but it’s harassment and it’s happening all the time. I am delighted to have secured support from Scottish Conservative MPs, and we’re looking forward to securing support from their English counterparts in the days ahead.’”
Updated 15th June 2018
But although seemingly fully expected to be passed into law and made criminal offence with two-year prison sentence under proposed law (independent.co.uk) the divided Brexiting cabinet which is St. Theresa’s cross to bear gave it one helluva wedgie:
May ‘disappointed’ at upskirting law block (bbc.co.uk).
Theresa May says she is “disappointed” an attempt to make upskirting a criminal offence in England and Wales did not progress through Parliament after one of her own MPs blocked it.
MP in question being Sir Christopher Chope seemingly blocking it to ensure “well-meaning but flabby legislation is not lazily plopped on to the statute book” but was met with shouts of “shame” from other fellow Tory MPs Nick Boles (Pick of the Week 14th Jan. 2014) tweeted that Sir Christopher was a politician “whose knuckles dragged along the ground”. And no doubt muttering much about “flabby legislation” while taking his belt off to whip its flabby backside.
Updated 16th June 2018
Victim’s fury at Tory MP, 71, who sabotaged her year-long effort to make ‘upskirting’ a crime: Campaigner says Sir Christoper Chope ‘doesn’t even know what he voted against’ as May joins criticism (dailymail.co.uk).
The Mail indeed giving a long enough blanket of a headline to ensure everything is fully covered up and with Gina Martin telling the BBC that Sir Christopher had confessed he “wasn’t really sure” what upskirting was” and she has agreed to meet him to “help him” understand, which we can hope does not involve him suggesting he needs a demonstration.
But for some, as with the infamous hacked pictures Fappening back in 2014 (Pick of the Week 17th Sept. 2014) which still has regular “updates” being made available to excite the ad revenue opportunities of those putting up the pictures and videos, the blame is attributed to those allowing them self to be upskirted as it was for those putting nawty pictures online—albeit privately:
Indeed, how dare they not have enough extra wrapping in place in case someone sticks their smartphone up their skirt in hope of catching a flash of their vag.
The lawyer tweeted an article on the proposed bill yesterday with a comment suggesting women will “titillate sexual perverts” if they dress provocatively.
But if you have ever visited those sort of forums with such content you’d likely see that the proclivity of clothing worn if often secondary to the voyeuristic thrill of catching said flash.
Updated 17th June 2018
And finally having his say on why he blocked the bill:
Speaking to his local paper, the Bournemouth Echo, Sir Christopher Chope said he was objecting to parliamentary procedure rather than the law itself.
Fully accepting that upskirting is “vulgar, humiliating and unacceptable” and calling accusations that he is “some kind of pervert” a “a complete travesty of the truth”, explaining that it was his disapproval of how the legislation was being brought in that caused him to block the bill because “the government has been hijacking time that is rightfully that of backbenchers”.
As MP for Christchurch and a member of a group of backbench Tory MPs who regularly object by blocking and filibustering (obstructing by taking too much time speaking leaving no time to take vote) private members bills which have not received sufficient scrutiny from said backbench MPs, seemingly this is something that more about ensuring he and said group group of backbenchers have something to dither and do, although according to Sir Chope its a means of maintaining democracy, accusing the government of trying to “bring in what it wants on the nod” saying that “We don’t quite live in the Putin era yet”.
Doubtless you will not be surprised to learn that Sir Chope voted against the legislation for same-sex marriage in 2013, is skeptical of climate change, co-sponsored an Employment Opportunities Bill which would have enabled workers to opt out of the minimum wage had it not been dropped, and is a Brexit advocate and member of a Eurosceptic pressure group named Leave Means Leave.
A delightful guest for guess for dinner I’m sure you can imagine. Christopher Chope (Wikipedia).
Updated 18th June 2018
With Sir Chope’s Commons office door and his constituency office in Christchurch seemingly decorated with what he might call bloomer bunting but seemingly saw it as validation of how an old Honourable member had been picked on:
The MP told the BBC he was “delighted” by this and suggested he had been “maligned for motives he never had”.
And how he was quite surprised how small undergarments become these days.
But as he has already said, he believes upskirting is wrong but delayed it because he wants more time to debate it, but with a scorching summer on the doorstep:
Upskirting: government confirms plan to introduce ban (theguardian.com).
Downing Street said ministers would adopt the private member’s bill so that the surreptitious taking of sexually intrusive images would be outlawed before the summer recess.
So indeed, all he has seemingly done is waste parliamentary time and money.
Next page: Some wonder whether it will apply to paparazzi upskirt shots of their favourite celeb, but finally upskirting to be crime after Lords back bill.