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Law failing on hi-tech harassment; WOMEN SUBJECT TO NEW FORMS OF ABUSE.

Byline: JONATHAN WALKER Political Editor @jonwalker121

TECHNOLOGY has created new ways for men to sexually harass women but the law has failed to keep up, according to a senior legal expert.

Four in 10 younger women say they have received unsolicited photos of male genitals.

Others have been victims of "deepfake porn", when their faces are superimposed on to pornographic images which are then distributed without their consent.

But current laws and policies "are only catching up with these behaviours", according to Clare McGlynn, a Professor of Law at Durham University.

She presented evidence to the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee, which has launched an inquiry into sexual harassment of women and girls in public places.

MPs asked for the views of experts after a national survey published by YouGov in 2016 revealed 85% of women aged 18-24 had experienced unwanted sexual attention in public places, and 45% had experienced unwanted sexual touching.

In a written paper, Prof McGlynn said: "Technological developments have generated new ways of perpetrating 'public' sexual harassment, such as viewing porn in public; the non-consensual receipt of '****pics'; and 'deepfake' or photoshopped pornography, as well as image-based sexual abuse."

The popularity of smartphones meant it was now easy to view pornography in a public place, such as on public transport or in a library, she said. But this is a new form of sexual harassment, she said. "Our individual choices and privacy is being compromised and we are being subjected to non-consensual sexual activity."

And there was a need to strengthen the law on "upskirting", which involves taking a photograph under a woman's skirt without their consent.

Prof McGlynn said: "Another form of abuse that has become more common as a result of technological developments is that known as 'upskirting.' .' Laws and policies have also failed to keep pace with victim expectations in this area and urgent reform of the law is needed.

"Over recent months, many women have come forward with their experiences of upskirting and seeking reform of the law.

"Where victims come forward and explain that they experience this harassment as a form of sexual offence, and feel let down that the law does not clearly cover this activity, public policy should listen and act accordingly."

Prof McGlynn highlighted YouGov research which found that 46% of women aged 18 to 36 said they have been sent an unsolicited photo of a penis.

The committee includes 11 MPs from various parties, and will publish its conclusions in a report later this year.


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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 8, 2018
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