Threatening to share intimate images of someone could result in a two-year jail sentence under planned new government laws.
The "revenge porn" law change is part of a raft of new amendments to the Domestic Abuse Bill that are designed to provide greater protection for victims and “further clamp down” on perpetrators.
The amendments, introduced by the government in Parliament on Monday 1 March, also include an extension of the law criminalising coercive or controlling behaviour so it covers couples who do not live together.
Non-fatal strangulation, where an abuser strangles or restricts a victim’s breathing in an attempt to control or intimidate them, will also be considered a criminal offence and could result in a five-year prison sentence.
Watch: Survivors of image-based sexual abuse pushing for new laws against 'revenge porn'
“Today’s announcement [on non-fatal strangulation] follows concerns that perpetrators were avoiding punishment as the practice can often leave no visible injury, making it harder to prosecute under existing offences such as Actual Bodily Harm,” the government said.
Since revenge porn laws were introduced in 2015, more than 900 abusers have been convicted. They will now “be widened to include threats to disclose intimate images with the intention to cause distress”.
Domestic violence charity Refuge celebrated the news this morning, calling it a “victory for women who face threats to share intimate images”.
The law change came about following the Refuge-led The Naked Threat Campaign which saw 45,000 supporters of the charity write to the government urging them to make the change.
“This is a victory for women and girls and brings a huge sense of relief to the one in seven young women who experience this form of abuse in the UK, and have had limited recourse to justice,” the charity said in a statement.
Social media users were quick to celebrate news of the law changes. Refuge campaigner Natasha Saunders wrote: “Absolutely over the moon to hear that Threats to Share intimate images will be made illegal under the Domestic Abuse Bill.”
Emily Hodge said: “Brilliant news today that g’memt will amend #DABill to recognise impact of non-fatal strangulation, coercive control in post-separation abuse & criminalise threats to share intimate images. Massive achievements by all who campaigned for these changes!”
Jess Phillips MP said: “Years of work has gone in to the domestic abuse bill by campaigners. Everytime (this time the Lords) it gets an airing it improves, we make the law better. We must now make sure that the bill and the law we pass is for all victims in our country not just those we choose to see.”
Victoria Atkins, safeguarding minister, said the new amendments are “game-changing” and will “help millions of people who are subjected to many different forms of abuse”.
The government is also tabling several other amendments to the bill, including providing special measures in civil courts such as allowing victims who don't want to give a statement in person to give evidence via video link.
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