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Dublin Rape Crisis Centre disappointed at delay in making 'revenge porn' a specific offence as judge grants protection order to victim

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A judge has granted court protection to a woman whose ex-partner is threatening to post intimate videos and photos of her on Facebook.

At the family law court in Ennis, Judge Patrick Durcan granted the woman a two-year Safety Order against the man where she has been a victim of so-called ‘revenge porn’.

The woman told the judge that she is in fear for her safety because of the man.

In a statement to the court, the woman stated that the man is constantly sending her text messages and ringing her.

She said that she blocked him on her phone but that he keeps getting a new phone number.

She stated that she also found that the boiler in her house had been tampered with and that the man is following her every day.

She added that the man is blackmailing her “and has intimate photos and videos of me and is threatening to put them up on Facebook”.

The man was not in court to contest the application for the Safety Order and Judge Durcan granted the Safety Order for two years.

Last May, the Cabinet approved measures to make ‘revenge porn’ a specific criminal offence.

However, chief executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC), Noeline Blackwell, today expressed disappointment that the proposed legislation didn’t become law before the general election was called.

Ms Blackwell said that the non-consensual action of posting intimate photos and videos online “is a growing issue and we would hear that anecdotally from the Gardaí and family law lawyers”.

She said that the current laws in place “are totally inadequate to deal with this form of abuse”.

Ms Blackwell stated that the current sexual harassment laws require a pattern of behaviour “and that doesn’t cover one lethal uploading online that can have devastating consequences for the person who didn’t give her or his consent.

The current laws that can be used are not strong enough.

Ms Blackwell said that England and Wales have specific laws to deal with the unauthorised sharing of intimate images online before adding that she hopes that the new Government that will be voted in will proceed to enact the legislation.

She said: “No one was against this being made law so that is why it is so disappointing that this abuse hasn’t been made a specific offence.”

Ms Blackwell said that the social media companies must do more to combat such unauthorised sharing of intimate images online.

Asked should those individuals who commit so called ‘revenge porn’ be jailed , Ms Blackwell said that the unauthorised sharing is another form of abuse and sentencing should be in line with sentencing for other abuse offences.

The DRCC was one of a number of bodies to make a submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality on the issue of online harassment and harmful communications last October.

Ms Blackwell said that the work that the Committee has done on the issue should continue under the next Government.

A Bill on the ‘revenge porn’ issue put forward by the Labour Party in 2017 proposed a six-month prison term for offenders.