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Threatening to share someone's nudes will soon be illegal in the UK

Following tireless campaigning from domestic violence charity, Refuge, the UK government has reportedly agreed to widen pre-existing revenge porn laws.

Threatening to share someone's nudes will soon be illegal in the UK
Cover Image Source: Getty Images (representative)

Individuals who threaten to share somebody's intimate photos or videos may soon face two years in jail thanks to a major law change being considered in the UK. Following tireless campaigning from domestic violence charity, Refuge, the government has reportedly agreed to widen pre-existing revenge porn laws — which since 2015 have seen 900 abusers convicted — to criminalize threatening to share "intimate" images of someone. According to the charity, as of now, only the sharing of intimate images without consent, aka revenge porn, is considered a crime by law. "This will change when the Domestic Abuse Bill becomes law," it states.


The ongoing "Naked Threat" campaign from Refuge reportedly saw 45000 supporters write to the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice to ask for the amendment. "This is a fantastic outcome for Refuge and for the women and children it serves. Threatening to share intimate images has become a powerful way in which men who abuse women control their choices and it is heart-warming to know that the government has listened to survivor voices. As we see the Domestic Abuse Bill enter its report stage next week we will do so knowing that it will transform this country’s response to women and children who experience domestic abuse," said Hetti Barkworth-Nanton, chair of Refuge.


The campaign was reportedly supported by Baroness Nicky Morgan — former Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) — and former Love Island contestant, Zara McDermott, who also issued statements celebrating the news. "I know from my time in DCMS just how technology has been used not only for good but also as a tool of abuse. Together with Refuge, with survivors of abuse, and with colleagues from across the House, I've been determined to secure this law change," said Morgan. "I am grateful to the government for acting decisively. This simple law change can help to transform the response to domestic abuse across the country and better protect women and girls. At the start of this campaign, I said it was my duty as a politician to stand up and protect women and girls and I’m delighted the government has recognized the urgency of securing this law change."


In her statement, McDermott opened up about her own experience with intimate images being shared online. "This is such welcome news. My life when I left the 'Love Island' villa was turned upside down as a result of the sharing of intimate images," she said. "I'm so glad I've been able to use my platform to support Refuge and call for this change in the law. Together with survivors, with politicians, and with the thousands of supporters that took action, we did it! Change is coming and I am thrilled."


The proposed amendments to the bill, which will be heard in parliament this week, bring a huge sense of relief to the 1 in 7 young women who experience this form of abuse in the UK. Natasha Saunders is one of them. Saunders, who previously shared her story with Cosmopolitan, said: "My perpetrator threatened to share my intimate images with friends and family. He did so to attempt to further control and abuse me. I was terrified of the consequences and it had a huge impact on me. I am now free from my abuser but every day I know that there are millions of women experiencing the things I was forced to endure for so long. I am so pleased that the government has not only listened to survivors of domestic abuse but also acted on what they heard. This is a huge victory for women like me." The Domestic Abuse Bill is expected to become law in the coming months.


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