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'This is now a crime' - New awareness campaign to highlight intimate image abuse

An intimate image includes any visual representation that shows an intimate part of a person
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

16.10 19 Oct 2021


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'This is now a crime' - New aw...

'This is now a crime' - New awareness campaign to highlight intimate image abuse

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

16.10 19 Oct 2021


Share this article


Young people need to be aware that forwarding intimate images of people without their consent is now a crime.

That's according to Vera O'Leary from the Kerry Rape Crisis Centre, who is welcoming a new campaign around the issue.

The Department of Justice is broadening their 'No Excuses' campaign to include and highlight intimate image abuse.

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An intimate image of a person includes any visual representation, and any accompanying material - such as sound - that shows any intimate part of a person.

Vera told Lunchtime Live this includes manipulated images.

"It could be showing a complete nude image, it could be showing a person engaged in sexual activity - but it could also be what's called 'Deep Fake' images.

"Where you have somebody taking the intimate body parts off maybe some pornography site and just grafting it on to another person.

"They all would be considered intimate abuse".

'This is being taken seriously'

Vera says this has been a long time coming.

"We have been lobbying for a long, long, long time for the Government to look at the impact of somebody sharing their images.

"But also to make it a criminal offence to do that. It was very heartening when this finally came into effect in February of this year.

"There's been a lot of talk, and I know the Department of Justice are running in tandem an awareness campaign, because I think that is what we need to get out there.

"It is now heartening to know that at least this is being taken seriously, and that there is something that can be done about it.

"But we need to make people aware that this is now a crime, and that it will be taken seriously - and that there are sanctions that could have [a] serious impact.

"It's no longer a defence to say 'I didn't know' or 'I wasn't aware that I was causing any hurt'.

"That no longer will be seen as a defence."

Coco's Law - otherwise known as the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Act - was enacted on February 10th this year.

It created new offences which criminalise the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.

The legislation carries penalties of up to seven years in prison.

Independent research commissioned by the Department of Justice found that one adult in 20 claim to have had an intimate image of themselves shared to an online or social media site without consent.

This rises to one in 10 among 18-24 and 25 to 37-year-olds.

On this, Vera says: "Quite a lot of people have experienced their images being shared without their consent.

"So this is not just a few people, this is a really serious social issue that really needs to be tackled.

"Anytime that you use an image of another person without their consent - an imitate image - and you forward that on, then you have committed that crime".

Threatening intimate image abuse is also an offence.

'This is now a crime' - New awareness campaign to highlight intimate image abuse

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Images and videos can be reported and removed via Hotline.ie/report

Main image: Undated photo of a man looking at a pixelated mobile phone screen. Picture by: PA/PA Archive/PA Images

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Awareness Campaign Coco's Law Department Of Justice Intimate Image Abuse Kerry Rape Crisis Centre Lunchtime Live Vera O'Leary

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