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Law Against Revenge Porn Passed by Scottish Parliament

Holyrood has passed the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Bill that makes “revenge porn” a criminal offence, following the rise of cases that shows that the crime has become widespread. The new legislation will tackle the way modern technology is used to abuse another individual by sharing private intimate images without the consent of the individual(s) appearing on photos or videos.

In 2015, crime statistics from 18 police forces in Wales and England showed that 175 victims have reported cases of revenge porn since April. Children as young as 12 years old are among the victims of private photos being shared without their consent. Authorities believe that the figure could be higher, if two of the biggest forces – the West Midlands Police and the Metropolitan Police, will be included.

Sarah Green, director of the campaign group End Violence Against Women, considers the crime a “calculated behaviour intended to harm”.

The new legislation will also modernise criminal law, and give police, prosecutors and courts more power and authority to take action against people committing domestic abuse, sexual offences, and harassment.

Judges will be required to provide juries with specific instructions on how to deal with sexual offence cases. This aims to help juries better understand sexual violence, as the lack thereof keeps victims from obtaining justice.

To ensure that courts will take into account domestic abuse when sentencing an accused, a new statutory domestic abuse aggravator will also be introduced. The bill also assures that child sexual offences committed by Scottish residents, while in England and Wales, can be prosecuted in Scotland.

The Scottish Government Bill was introduced on 8 October 2015 by Michael Matheson MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Justice.

Revenge porn is a criminal offence that was introduced in England and Wales as part of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill. This prohibits sharing of private, sexual materials (photos or videos) of another person without permission and with the intention to embarrass or cause distress.

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