The Western Australian Government has recently presented a bill to parliament which will see Intimate Image Abuse legislation introduced here in Western Australia. I have been a key player in pressing our government for these laws in WA and I am very excited at the prospect they will be here before the end of the year. For five years I have been pressuring our law makers to stop sitting on their hands and to get such laws enacted. So often WA waits to see what other states are doing, but finally it looks like we are here.
The legislation specifically covers the on-sending of an "intimate image" (this includes video). Generally speaking, if any person receives a 'nude' from someone else, whether it is of someone they know or someone they do not know and that person chooses to 'share' that image with any other person (including posting it to a website), that person would have breached the new Intimate Image Abuse laws.
Prior to this legislation, if any person over the age of 16 had their intimate image on-shared, posted online or distributed, there was no laws in WA to protect them or to hold to account such people who acted so recklessly or disrespectfully. The lack of such legislation promotes a culture of random distribution for the on-sharing of intimate images without consideration of the person or persons depicted. This needed to change!
Don't get me wrong, I am still educating people strongly in regard to the sending of intimate images and the risk of such behaviour. But if any person chooses to make the risky decision of sending a nude to a partner, then regardless of that decision, I believe there should be an onus on a person who receives that image to respect the person depicted, rather than simply sharing it with others. This legislation changes that!
If a person chooses to distribute an intimate image, then he or she will need to consider the prospect of a criminal record.
The additional benefit of this new legislation is that police will be able to use much lesser penalties when dealing with people under the age of 16. During my time at Technology Crime, it was very rare we would charge children with the sending and distribution of nudes. This was simply because the only legislation available was 'child pornography' laws. In most instances, no-one (including victims and their parents) wanted to see children charged and convicted of such serious crimes. I believed there needed to be something in place to act on such matters. Laws which did not have such a massive impact on the life of an offender, yet still gave a victim some resolution and closure. This legislation will help do that.
Ultimately, I hope and believe these new laws will go a long way in creating a shift in culture. To stop the reckless posting and display of intimate images online and to hopefully invoke a culture of respect for those people depicted in such images, whether they are known or unknown to the person receiving. If it can stop those people who take pride in distributing such images, then I am all for making them not only morally accountable, but criminally responsible aswell.
To monitor the progress of the bill please visit HERE.