Uncategorized

The growing phenomenon of revenge porn offences and the law

In Queensland, it is a crime to share an intimate image or prohibited visual recording of someone without their consent in a way that would reasonably cause the other person distress. This is most commonly known as “revenge porn”, however sharing an intimate image of a person without their consent is often ruled by many behaviours and is not always the product of revenge, therefore it has formally been renamed as “image-based sexual abuse”.

In recent months, there has been surge of cases before the Courts in relation to individuals committing an ‘revenge porn’ offence or ‘revenge porn’ offences.

Last week, a Maryborough man pleaded guilty to threatening to distribute an intimate image of a woman, receiving a large fine in the Maryborough Magistrates Court. The man became angry after the woman shared one of his business cards on social media with disparaging remarks, threatening to upload a video of the woman performing a sexual act to Facebook or send it to her ex-husband.

The series of threats caused the woman to become considerably distressed. The presiding Magistrate condemned the man’s actions and said threatening to upload the video had been an attempt to humiliate the victim.

What is image-based sexual abuse?

Image-based sexual abuse involves the non-consensual creation, distribution, or threats to distribute nude or sexual images of a person. This includes digitally altered images or videos where a person’s face or identifying marks/features appear.

Image-based sexual abuse is a significant invasion of a person’s privacy and a violation of their dignity, sexual autonomy, and freedom of expression. The term ‘revenge porn’ implies that the motivation behind creating, distributing, or threatening to distribute nude or sexual images is based on the spiteful actions of an ex-partner or spouse. However, research has demonstrated that image-based sexual abuse is often used by perpetrators of domestic violence in an attempt to coercively control a current or former intimate partner.

What is an intimate image?

An intimate image is defined by law as, and includes a photograph or video of a person that is:

  • Nude; or
  • has their genitals or backside showing (unclothed or covered only be undergarments); or
  • has their bare breasts showing (if they are female, transgender, intersex or identify as female); or
  • Engaged in an intimate sexual activity; or
  • An image that has been altered to appear to show any of the above.

This includes digitally altered images such as:

  • A persons face digitally added to a pornographic or sexualised image;
  • A nude or partially nude person with their genitals or breasts digitally covered.

Offences and Penalty

There are three (3) sections in Queensland’s Criminal Code Act (1899) (‘Criminal Code’) that criminalise ‘revenge porn’.

  1. Distributing intimate images: under section 223 of the Criminal Code, it is an offence to distribute intimate images of a person without their consent in a way that would reasonably cause the person’s distress.
  2. Distributing prohibited visual recordings: under section 227B of the Criminal Code, it is an offence to distribute prohibited visual recordings of a person without their consent.
  3. Threats to distribute intimate image or prohibited visual recording: under section 229A of the Criminal Code, it is offence if a person threatens to distribute intimate or prohibited visual recordings of a person without their consent in a way that would reasonably cause the person’s distress.

The maximum penalty for each one of these offences three (3) years imprisonment.

The Court also has the discretion to order that the person who shared the intimate image or video, or even threatened to share the intimate image or video, take reasonable action to remove, destroy or delete them. If the person fails to remove, destroy, or delete the intimate images or videos, is punishable by up to two (2) years imprisonment.

Consent

Consent is incredibly important when nude photos are taken or distributed. A person may send you an image or video or gave you permission to view an image or video, but this does not mean they have given anyone else permission to view it. It is extremely important that you do not show another person’s intimate image or photo with another unless you have received the owner’s consent to do so.

A person under the age of 16 can not legally consent to an intimate image or video of themselves being shared.

Nor can a person consent if threatened to do so.


What to do if you are worried you could be a victim or are a victim of revenge porn.

According to researchers, about 1 in 5 Australians have been victims of image-based abuse.  As a possible victim or a victim of revenge porn, it is also recommended to consult with an experienced criminal lawyer to know the options available to you.

What should you do if you have been charged with a revenge porn offence?

If you have been charged with a revenge porn offence, it is important that you speak to an experienced criminal lawyer immediately to understand your legal rights and possible defences available to you.  There can be enormous ramifications on your future if you do not get legal advice.

For further information on revenge porn offences, please do not hesitate to contact Wickham Lawyers in our Brisbane office on (07) 3831 9025 or our Southport office on (07) 3924 2888.

Please note that our lawyers are still working during the snap lockdown, and we are able to assist you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *