Wera Hobhouse’s bill to make ‘upskirting’ a specific criminal offence has now become law.
Upskirting is the act of taking a photo up beneath a person without their consent, with the intention of photographing or seeing their genitals.
The act itself has not been a crime in England until now.
Wera said: “This is a victory for women up and down the country. It’s high time upskirting became a specific criminal offence, and I’m glad in this part at least, the law has caught up with technology.”
"This is part of enshrining women’s autonomy over their bodies in to law, and means that the police and the courts will find it far easier to charge and prosecute perpetrators."
"I hope to see the law act as a deterrent, and this sends a clear message that this predatory behaviour is not acceptable, and can result in jail time.”
The bill had an eventful journey through Parliament. Originating as a Private Member’s Bill tabled by Wera Hobhouse, it was blocked in its second reading in the Commons when Tory MP Christopher Chope objected to it.
This created a media storm and a national outcry, and the government were forced to take the bill through Parliament in their own time.
In what seems like a repetition of history, Christopher Chope again blocked another private members bill last Friday, which this time aimed to make it easier for authorities to protect vulnerable girls against female genital mutilation.
On Monday Wera Hobhouse asked the government if they would take on the bill as they had done with the upskirting bill, and they agreed.
However they refused to take any action against Chope, who has blocked widely supported Private Member’s Bills habitually for decades.
Wera said: “Government ministers can disassociate themselves with Chope, express their outrage and say that they will talk to him, but the fact of the matter is that whilst the Government are struggling for numbers in crucial votes, no serious action will be taken against him. It shouldn’t take a media storm for the government to act.”
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