Basing laws to protect women on the perpetrator’s intent protects the perpetrator when we should be protecting the target.

Wayne Couzens – who raped and murdered Sarah Everard – was also a flasher

Flashers used to be thought of as just sad, but a sexual offending career can start with flashing – imposing visually escalating to imposing physically. Now flashing can be done on the internet.

“I was drunk” ” It was a joke” “I thought she wanted it” “I didn’t mean to upset anyone” All get-out clauses used when laws protecting women are written. “Consent is confusing’.” Basing laws on intent protects the perpetrator when we should be protecting the target. Please sign the pledge arguing for the Online Safety Bill to be consent-based at the end of article.

“We can’t let cyberflashing legislation fall at the final hurdle – Grazia April 27th, Georgia Aspinall

…When Amy Hart was thrust into the public eye after appearing on Love Island in 2019, she went from 3,000 Instagram followers to 1.1 million. With that came newfound influence – and lucrative brand opportunities – but also, a dark side: online harassment in the form of cyberflashing, the sending of unsolicited obscene images online.

Now, she’s fronting a new campaign to strengthen laws around cyberflashing with the support of Grazia, Bumble and UN Women UK. While cyberflashing is about to be made a criminal offence punishable by up to two years in prison, the legislation proposed as part of the Online Safety Bill will criminalise the practice based specifically on ‘harmful intent’. This intent-based approach is not only hard to prove, but it also leaves room for men to claim they sent unsolicited obscene images as a ‘joke’ – meanwhile, women pay the price of harassment.

That’s why Grazia, Bumble and UN Women UK are pushing for a consent-based approach instead. If someone sends an obscene or sexual image without getting a person’s consent, they’re guilty of cybrflashing, plain and simple.

The campaign is needed now more than ever. New research from Bumble has found that 48% of 18 to 24-year-olds have received an unsolicited sexual image, leading to more than a quarter of women feeling unsafe and nearly 90% agreeing that more needs to be done to stop the criminal practice.

‘We must believe survivors, and that means a definition of sexual harassment that is about unwelcome behaviour, rather the intention of the perpetrator,’ Claire Barnett, executive director of UN Women UK, says. ‘Sometimes the argument is made that the concept of consent is confusing or difficult, but when it comes to consent, there are no blurred lines. Consent must be enthusiastic, given freely, informed, specific and reversible. It is critical that we create a culture of consent from an early age if we are to eliminate sexual harassment in the same way that we have seen a huge behavioural change around wearing seatbelts or using single-use plastic bags. We need safe spaces – online and offline – now.’

…’After years of campaigning, the bravery of women who helped make cyberflashing a crime finally paid off: perpetrators will now face two years in prison,’ says Grazia editor-in-chief Hattie Brett. ‘But it’s essential that the legislation is not watered down at the last hurdle – an approach that embeds consent is the only way to ensure women are no longer subject to this disturbing behaviour.'”

Please sign the pledge arguing for Online Safety Bill to be consent-based:

#OnlineSafetyBill #ConsentBased @Grazia

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