Upskirting: What is it and why are people trying to make it illegal?
A new report reveals that one in 10 men don't think upskirting is sexual harassment
Upskirting is a term used to describe the act of taking a photograph up someone's skirt without their permission.
The sexually invasive act was set to be made a criminal offence in parliament in June, following a campaign launched by upskirting victim Gina Martin.
However, the bill - which would have seen perpetrators face up to two years in prison - was blocked by a Tory MP.
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After campaigners urged the Prime Minister to persist with the proposed ruling, it was adopted as a Government Bill and is expected to be finalised in the coming months.
In June, Conservative MP for Christchurch Sir Christopher Chope objected to passing the bill in the House of Commons.
Due to rules in place after 2.30pm, just one objection was enough to block the legislation from progressing.
A new report conducted by British GQ reveals that one in 10 men don't think upskirting is sexual harassment: "This makes me so angry," Martin commented.
“If it’s not sexual harassment then what would you call it? A laugh, a cheap thrill, a bit of fun?”added Sue Mackie, a fellow upskirting victim.
Martin began campaigning to make upskirting illegal in England and Wales after a man, whose advances she’d rejected, took a photograph underneath her skirt at a music festival in Hyde Park last summer using a smartphone.
“A few minutes later, I saw one of his friends looking at an intrusive picture of a woman’s crotch covered by a thin strip of fabric. I knew it was me,” Martin wrote for the World Economic Forum.
“Tears filled my eyes and I began drawing attention to him: ‘You guys have been taking pictures of my vagina! What is wrong with you!?’ He grabbed me and pushed his face in front of mine, bellowing that I give him his phone back.”
The 27-year-old writer was able to snatch the man’s phone and present it to police officers.
Although the incident left Martin feeling deeply violated and distressed, she was told by the officers that nothing could be done because she had been wearing underwear and therefore the man’s actions could not be legally classed as an offence.
While upskirting is illegal in Scotland under the Sexual Offences Act, it isn’t criminalised as an individual act in England and Wales - thus, police aren’t required to record it, meaning statistics regarding its prevalence are hard to uncover.
However, figures released in February revealed that girls as young as 10 have been victims of upskirting and that just a third of British police forces in England and Wales report the incidents they encounter.
After her experience, Martin embarked on a passionate campaign to enlist a new law that would hold upskirting perpetrators to account for their actions via a custodial sentence.
She launched a petition that received more than 100,000 supporters and soon caught the attention of the ministry of justice.
She received cross-party support from MPs and worked closely with justice minister Lucy Frazer to progress the campaign, which also received backing from a number of celebrities including Laura Whitmore and Dermot O’Leary.
When the bill goes through, as it's expected to in the coming months, the sentencing for the violation will be brought in line with existing voyeurism offences, which could see perpetrators put on the sex offenders register and imprisoned for up to two years.