Jus­tice for porn vic­tims

Law com­mit­tee rec­om­mends re­venge porn leg­is­la­tion


THE Ter­ri­tory Gov­ern­ment should en­act leg­is­la­tion to pro­tect the vic­tims of so-called “re­venge porn”, but any new laws should in­clude a “pub­lic in­ter­est” de­fence, the NT Law Re­form Com­mit­tee has rec­om­mended.

A new re­port rec­om­mends mak­ing it an of­fence to pub­lish any “in­ti­mate im­ages” with­out the sub­ject’s con­sent, re­gard­less of whether con­sent was given to the im­age be­ing taken. The sug­gested max­i­mum penalty is two years jail.

Threat­en­ing to pub­lish such im­ages would also be an of­fence un­der the pro­posal.

How­ever, the com­mit­tee rec­om­mended that ex­emp­tions be made when the shar­ing of in­ti­mate im­ages was “of pub­lic ben­e­fit” or was done in the course of pro­duc­ing news or cur­rent af­fairs. For­mer as­sis­tant trea­surer Nathan Bar­rett was dumped from the CLP last year af­ter videos sur­faced of him mas­tur­bat­ing in his par­lia­men­tary bath­room.

He and then-chief min­is­ter Adam Giles claimed the cir­cu­la­tion of those videos to me­dia was an ex­am­ple of re­venge porn, but it ap­pears un­likely that would be the case un­der the Law Re­form Com­mit­tee’s rec­om­men­da­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, NT Po­lice’s High Tech Crime Squad was re­ferred six com­plaints of re­venge porn between July 2015 and Jan­uary 2016. Those com­plaints all con­cerned ma­te­rial cir­cu­lated by ex-part­ners through the in­ter­net or to friends of the vic­tim. The im­ages ranged from the “mildly provoca­tive to highly ex­plicit”, the re­port said.

But none of the per­pe­tra­tors were ever pros­e­cuted, be­cause of dif­fi­cul­ties with iden­ti­fy­ing sus­pects and the re­luc­tance of vic­tims to par­tic­i­pate in court pro­ceed­ings.

The com­mit­tee’s re­port rec­om­mends that per­pe­tra­tors un­der 18 be first re­ferred to di­ver­sion­ary pro­grams, with crim­i­nal charges un­der­taken only as a last re­sort. It says it should not be treated as a “se­ri­ous of­fence” for mi­nors.

The Chief Judge, the Law So­ci­ety of the NT’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, and a po­lice rep­re­sen­ta­tive are among the com­mit­tee’s mem­bers.

A study re­leased by RMIT Uni­ver­sity found men and women were equally likely to be re­venge porn vic­tims although men were more likely to per­pe­trate the crime.

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