Photographing Women Breastfeeding To Be Punishable With Jail Time
Photographers will now face up to two years in prison if they’re caught taking a picture of a woman while she’s breastfeeding, without her consent.
The government announced the new measure on Tuesday, January 4, 2022, which will see the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill amended.
It will now be a criminal offence to take videos or photographs of women who are breastfeeding if done so to try and gain sexual gratification, or in a way which causes ‘humiliation, distress, or alarm’ to the woman while she is tending to her child.
Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow, who has been campaigning for ‘breast pests’ to face harsher punishment, noted the ‘hard work of campaigner Julia Cooper, Jeff Smith, Baroness Helene Hayman and Lord Pannick’, The Independent reports.
‘We all worked across both the Lords and Commons to make the government listen to our call for change,’ she said.
Creasy herself was a victim of such an offence when she was photographed breastfeeding her four-month-old while on the train in North London, near Highbury and Islington.
She told The Guardian:
This was before lockdown when I had a very small baby. I realised she needed feeding, she was crying. He had his phone out and I thought he was playing with his phone, and then I realised with horror that he was taking photos.
You feel exposed. I don’t think he can have got very much of a picture, but the sheer horror at the point when you’re focused on trying to support your newborn baby … and somebody is doing that, it was vile.
Recalling how vulnerable she felt, she said, ‘I wondered whether he had been a resident and had recognised me, because he was laughing.’
As well as these new measures, the time period around the reporting of domestic abuse is also set to be extended.
Victims of common assault or battery at the hands of their partner previously had to report it to the police within six months, however the timeframe has now be extended to two years.
Labour MP Yvette Cooper stated:
In domestic abuse cases, there are obvious and serious reasons why victims may take more time to report the abuse to the police, especially where there is an ongoing abusive relationship.
The alteration of the time period was first put forward by MPs last year, when they called for the Policing Bill to be amended.
They called the six-month limit ‘unjust’, and urged the government to extend it as soon as possible.
Cooper explained how the previous time restrictions mean that ‘many women who do find the courage to come forward and report these incidents are being badly let down because time has run out and the perpetrator is never charged’.
‘That can leave victims feeling more vulnerable than ever, while the perpetrators go on to commit more crimes,’ she noted.
Nicole Jacobs, the commissioner for Domestic Abuse, said she ‘strongly welcomes’ the updated rules, adding:
It is important that all domestic abuse victims have the time and opportunity to report to the police. This is especially important following Covid restrictions, when many victims faced additional challenges to seeking help and reporting domestic abuse.
Jacobs concluded that she hopes ‘to see increased prosecutions for domestic abuse, and hope to see that as these measures remove another barrier to bringing perpetrators to justice’.
While these two latest updates have been cause for celebration, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill has prompted widespread debate around human rights and government oppression.
It incorporates a wide range of issues and has been accused of prohibiting freedom of speech, the right to protest, and unjustly targeting marginalised communities.
However, Home Secretary Priti Patel labelled the new bill as a bid to ‘rebalance the justice system’.
If you are experiencing domestic violence, please know that you are not alone. You can talk in confidence 24 hours a day to the national domestic violence helpline Refuge on 0808 2000 247
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