I am very proud to advise Intimate Image Abuse legislation was passed through State Parliament on the 19th Feb, 2019. I have been a key advocate for this legislation in Western Australia over the past 5 years and it is exciting to know my voice and the voices of many others have been heard by our Government.
The Criminal Law Amendment (Intimate Images) Act 2018, will come into effect on the 15th of April, 2019 and outlines the following:
- 1. Create a new offence against distributing an intimate image of a person without their consent;
- 2. Empower courts to make a rectification or 'take down' order in relation to the image;
- 3. Criminalise the threat to distribute an intimate image.
An 'Intimate Image' is defined as:
- an image of the person naked, partially naked, or in their underwear;
- an image of a person engaged in a private act, such as a sexual act, using the toilet, showering or bathing.
This is a massive step forward in addressing the hundreds of thousands of intimate images being distributed without consent around this country every year. Many of which will end up on public websites for anyone and everyone to view. If someone has sent you a private, intimate image (or vid) and they have not given you clear and precise consent to share that image and you do share it, you will have broken the law.
For adults, this legislation introduces the option for victims to report such immoral acts to the WA Police and to have charges preferred. In the past, they would have been turned away and simply told it was not against the law. Such a lack of support for victims was totally unacceptable, especially considering how many people are being abused in this way in the online world. For children from 10 to 17 years of age, this legislation is a great step forward. Not only does it offer a level of protection for victims and support for parents, but (more importantly) it offers a much lesser degree of impact on an 'offender' who may also be a child. This is the main reason I pushed so hard for these laws here in WA.
Those readers who know me and for anyone who has seen an SOS presentation, you will know very well I am not about and never have been about charging kids. I left the WA Police because I was frustrated that victims under the age of 18 were not being protected and offenders were not being held to account for their actions. Why? The reason was simple. Police were not wanting to charge children with 'child porn' legislation. As such, many high school students in WA were distributing the intimate images of their peers without concern for repercussion. Websites were being created to share them. Victims were being named and shamed and in many cases they were being contacted by predators who had found their images online.
All of these issues created because the person who was originally sent the image did not have the decency to keep it private. They did not have the moral fortitude or maturity to respect the person depicted. This legislation pushes the onus back onto those who receive an intimate image to make a choice. 'Do I share it?' versus 'Do I keep it private?'
If they are and adult and choose to share, they should know better, especially if they have been specifically asked not to show anyone else. These laws are an adequate response to those acts of disregard. If kids choose to share and the parents of the victim insist Police take action, then at least this legislation offers some penalties that are appropriate, but will not have a life changing effect on a kid who has made a terrible error of judgement. It gives victims a chance to be heard and not to be simply left on their own.
It is my opinion this new law, in conjunction with decent education here in Western Australia, will go a long way in shifting the culture regarding the reckless distribution of intimate images in this state. I can't wait to officially include this into my presentations to high school students.
For an explanation of the legislation please visit the Department of Justice website.