Revenge porn victims need anonymity guaranteed, campaigners say

Naming victims in court gives revenge porn images 'new life', lawyers warn

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The Independent Online

Campaigners against sexual assault are calling for the victims of revenge pornography to be given anonymity.

MPs and campaign groups are urging the Government to make it illegal to publish the names and identifying details of victims of revenge porn, in line with other sex offences.

Director of the charity Victim Support, Lucy Hastings, said: "Without anonymity a victim testifying in court faces the very real risk of their name and details being reported in the press, which could also lead to the offending images or videos being shared more widely."

The law banning revenge porn in England and Wales was introduced on 13 April under the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015.

The justice secretary, Chris Grayling, said: "We have changed the law to make it clear that people who maliciously distribute intimate pictures of their former partners without their consent face a prison sentence."

"It is crucial that victims have the confidence to report this kind of disgusting behaviour and the new offence will make sure perpetrators are properly punished."

Folami Prehaye, campaigner and victim of revenge porn, has said that the law which carries a maximum two-year sentence is too lenient.

The 45-year-old from Bristol, told the BBC that the new law is not enough of a deterrent as it has only led to suspended sentences so far.

The number of offences being reported has risen significantly since the introduction of the specific law against revenge porn was introduced.

Alison Saunders, director of public prosecutions said: "It is clear that the new legislation is having an impact." It is hoped that a guarantee of anonymity would encourage more people to come forward.

In February, the Revenge Porn Helpline was launched to offer confidential support to victims and help them to speak to the police.

Childline has created a free app to help young people navigate the dangers of flirting through technology and prevent underage people from sharing nude photos of themselves.

The app, called Zipit, provides users with advice, support and a direct line to Childline's councillors.

On 3 September Australian MPs proposed a bill to ban revenge porn, making it illegal. Similar laws are in place in New Zealand and almost half of all US states, and have been planned in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

On 19 June Google announced that it would respond to requests from victims of non-consensual pornography posted online to remove the content from the search engine's results.