Thanks to the objections and filibustering of Chope and Davies, men who wish to shame and harass women have scored a winby Sian Norris / June 15, 2018 / Leave a comment
A woman is looking at groceries on a supermarket shelf. As she browses the different types of products, a man behind her leans down and takes a photo up her skirt.
A girl is waiting for a bus to take her to college. A man comes and sits beside her. When she moves away, she realises he has been filming up her dress.
A young woman named Gina Martin is at a music festival, and spots a man in the crowd next to her. He’s looking at photos of a woman’s crotch. It’s her own.
This is the reality of “upskirting,” a modern phenomena where (mostly) men and boys use their camera phones to take photos of (mostly) women’s crotches without their consent. The content is then often shared online.
Indeed, when, while researching this article, I googled “upskirting and schools”—only for pornographic content to be offered on the first page of results.
Today, after a dedicated campaign ran by Martin and the Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse, the act was due to become a criminal offence with a two-year prison sentence.
That was until Conservative MP Sir Christopher Chope blocked the attempt by shouting ‘object’ during the reading of the Private Members Bill. He was assisted in his efforts by Philip Davies, who attempted to filibuster the Bill with a speech lasting 148 minutes.
In a statement, Gina Martin has expressed her disappointment in Chope’s decision to object to the law-change. (He has agreed to meet her to discuss the Bill’s progress, and there is some suggestion he will claim the objection is procedural.)
By delaying the Bill to outlaw upskirting, Chope, Davies, and the Parliamentary System has badly let down women and girls all over the UK, who are particularly vulnerable now that so many people carry a cameraphone.
Criminalising this practice would have sent a clear signal that the government understands how new technologies are outpacing the law, and are used to abuse and intimidate women.
Many people express surprise that upskirting is not already illegal, or that it is not covered in existing harassment or sexual misconduct laws.
A legal loophole