Picture this: you’re running late for work. You clamber down the stairs, praying that you won’t miss your train. Luckily, you’re just in time, blending your way into the carriage, amongst all the business men in suits and ladies, absentmindedly tapping away at their phones. This is a standard morning for you – nothing out of the ordinary. So imagine the horror when you realise some asshole is trying to snap photos under your skirt.
Unfortunately, this has been the reality for too many people. On transport, in nightclubs, at festivals – pretty much anywhere – upskirting, as it is named, is a problem. Some people think it’s acceptable to take pictures of your private body, without consent, and use this however they like. So why the hell is this not classed as a criminal offense in England?
You can't charge somebody for upskirting as it is not recognised as an instance of sexual assault. In some cases, people have managed to get creative, perusing voyeurism and indecency cases, but just the fact that it has come down to this really annoys me. As if it is up to the victim to assess the circumstances and loopholes of a situation that (a) they didn’t ask for and (b) wasn’t their fault.
We’re not talking about people flashing their knickers and yelling, come here boys. We’re talking about people minding their own business. Besides, even if somebody is wearing a short skirt or has had a few drinks, you do not make decisions for them. You cannot decide that it’s alright to take photos of them as if they're your property.
Upskirting has been an offense in Scotland for eight years now, so doing so in England shouldn’t really be out of the question. It’s doable. It’s very easy for people to take this form of sexual assault seriously, and yet all the campaigning and attention and contact with Parliament has led to little in the way of some good damn action.
One campaigner, who has been raising the awareness of upskirting, is Gina Martin. While watching the Killers perform at a music festival, Gina became yet another woman on the receiving end of upskirting. Despite taking the abuser’s phone and telling the police, her case was closed. Not only this, but in attempts to criminalise this form of assault, Gina has faced backlash from trolls and even became a meme. 'Viva la upskirters', teenagers wrote on her posts. Real funny.
Make a joke of it, if that’s the kind of twisted sense of humour you have, but upskirting isn’t a laughing matter. Reported victims have been as young as ten. Women have been followed with spy cameras on the abuser’s shoes, attached bags and hidden on spy-style pens. And images are being uploaded on social media and sites dedicated solely to business of upskirting. What the hell is up with that?
I think we can all agree that upskirting is a shitty thing to do. Just imagine it happening to you. It’s uncalled for, humiliating and just plain vile. So let’s do something about it. You can sign Gina Martin’s petition here.