Upskirting victim launches petition to make it a sex offence after man 'takes photo up her skirt with no consequences'

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A young woman who started a petition for changes in the law after someone took a photograph up her skirt “with no consequences” has today called on Londoners to write to their MPs. 

Gina Martin, 25, spotted a man’s phone screen at BST Festival in Hyde Park last month, saw a woman’s thighs and underwear, and was “shocked” to realise the crotch in the image was her own.

The copywriter said the Met Police told her they could not punish the man because he had “done nothing illegal”, so she launched a petition – which has now amassed more than 55,000 signatures – calling for “upskirting” to be added to the Sexual Offences Act 2003. 

Ms Martin told the Standard: “Although the police were incredibly kind, the reaction was as bad as what that creepy man did to me – young women are not protected by the law when they ask for help. 

“I think women in general are told to brush off something like having a pervy photo taken of you because it’s not a massive deal, but it’s harassment and it’s happening all the time. 

“Loads of women have messaged me since I launched the petition, telling me the same thing has happened to them, or they have had pictures taken down their shirts, and no one really knows what to do – and nor do the police.”

“England is lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to protecting women from harassment via new digital media – Scotland and New Zealand have laws against upskirting specifically. 

“More than 55,000 people have signed my Care2 petition now, but it may not reach 100,000 and get a definite hearing in parliament. But I think if we can get enough women to write to their MPs demanding action, it can get discussed and the law may be changed.

“Section 67 of the Sexual Offences act needs to be amended to label ‘up-skirt photos’ or ‘creepshots’ as a sexual offence. Period.”

A leading criminal barrister joined the call for making “upskirting” a “specific offense.”

The ubiquity of mobile phones has seen a rise in the practise (Getty Images)

Simon Myerson QC told the Standard: “Making upskirting a specific offence would be helpful.

“I would try to work it around a definition of voyeurism. At the moment it involves watching other people engaging in sexual activity and I would try and get a definition that says taking photos of someone’s underwear or private parts – making sure to be careful to exclude swimwear and tight leggings etc or you get into a murky situation – is an offence, unless the person gave their express consent.

“The ‘upskirter’ could then potentially have their card marked as a sexual offender and go on the Sexual Offenders Register.” 

Ms Martin’s case has now been re-opened by the Met Police.

A spokesperson said: “The Met takes allegations of voyeurism seriously and does and will investigate them thoroughly.

“We use a range of policing tactics and deploy officers on specific operations to target this sort of criminal behaviour based on intelligence. We understand that it can be incredibly invasive and distressing for those that this happens to. 

“In this specific case we believed the allegation had originally been dealt with in line with the victim’s wishes. We have subsequently recontacted the victim and enquiries are ongoing.”

See the petition for advice on how to contact your MP.

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