At the beginning of many relationships, couples regularly send pictures on smartphones of themselves in erotic poses. This is playful, teasing and suggestive, and it assumes confidentiality and trust in the relationship. However, there is now quite a trend for jilted lovers to post naked or suggestive pictures of their ex on websites dedicated to so-called ‘revenge porn’ and to accompany the images with nasty commentary. This elicits much other comment and can be highly derogatory and libellous. As this occurs in open view, the victim’s work or academic colleagues, children, family and friends are often able to access the material, and it can cause enormous distress and embarrassment. The victim, and not the perpetrator, often feels the blame and shame in these cases.
‘…there is now quite a trend for jilted lovers to post naked or suggestive pictures of their ex on websites dedicated to so-called ‘revenge porn’ and to accompany the images with nasty commentary.
It is true to say that the victim of revenge porn has nothing to be ashamed of, but saying this does not take the sting out of other people having access to your intimate life. The message has to be not to send revealing pictures of yourself until you are sure of the relationship and you know you can completely trust your partner. As Padraig O’Morain states in his Irish Times column ’…even when the image is made with the consent of whoever is depicted, how is it right or fair that these moments of lust-driven gullibility should be punished by sustained public humiliation? And how fair is it that the smirking rat behind it all should be able to inflict this humiliation on his ex without consequences for himself? Not right or fair at all. Bring on the law.’ (25th Nov 2014)
It is easy to blame the medium for the problems we encounter, but of course it is our use of the medium that is within our control. The issue of revenge porn needs to be tackled at multiple levels: the law is being enacted to put the consequences on the perpetrator but there is a social condemnation that still creates shame and suffering for the victim. There needs to be more discussion at private and public levels so that this public shaming is not acceptable or indulged in by any of us.
‘The issue of revenge porn needs to be tackled at multiple levels: the law is being enacted to put the consequences on the perpetrator but there is a social condemnation that still creates shame and suffering for the victim.’
Irish Times December 2016:
Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald is to legislate to make stalking, including cyber stalking and revenge porn criminal offences.
Ms Fitzgerald received approval from Cabinet at its last meeting of the year to draft the Non-Fatal Offences (Amendment) Bill to address loopholes in current legislation.
The Minister will create two new criminal offences, including making it illegal to intentionally post intimate images of a person online without their consent.
The legislative change will also extend the offence of harassment to ensure it includes activity online and on social media.
It will also expand the offence of sending threatening or indecent messages to digital forms of communication.
The Tánaiste said the Government’s legislation followed a report by the Law Reform Commission, which recommended changes.
“The speed and scale of modern online communication can magnify the damage done by harmful communications,” said Ms Fitzgerald.