Upskirting Becomes Illegal Across UK

Let's pop open the champagne because upskirting - the practice of taking unsolicited photographs of a female's crotch underneath their skirt or dress - is now illegal!

Upskirting wasn't previously counted as an offence because it fell between the requirements of two separate offences: outraging public decency and voyeurism. For voyeurism to apply, the offence had to take place in a public place, and for outraging public decency, there would need to be witnesses.

However, a campaign was started 18 months ago by Gina Martin to recognise upskirting as part of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. She began the campaign after becoming a victim of upskirting at British Summertime Festival in 2017. A man took a photograph up her skirt, but when she reported it to the police, they told her there was nothing they could do about it as it wasn't illegal.

So, Ms Martin took to Facebook to share her story. It was shared many times and received a lot of online attention. A petition was begun, which received over 50,000 signatures. This petition set Ms Martin’s bill into progress.

Holly Willoughby became involved with the campaign after being a victim of upskirting and shared her own experience of the offence. She shared a post on Instagram, a collage of photos of women being upskirted at the 2018 Brit Awards with a white rose to show solidarity with the Time’s Up movement.

Now, the act of upskirting can carry a sentence of up to two years in prison. When Ms. Martin’s bill initially went through the Commons, it was blocked by Conservative MP Sir Christopher Chope. Theresa May then stepped in and said the government would help to push the bill through Parliament. Yesterday, it was approved in the House of Lords. Now, the bill is only waiting for the Royal Assent; when the Queen agrees to make the bill into law.

The decision to make upskirting illegal is a progressive step forward and hopefully a step in the right direction to recognising misogyny as a hate crime.