Men could be jailed for up to six months for sending non-consensual explicit pictures as part of planned changes to Finland’s law on sexual offences, the country’s justice ministry has said.
Currently, the law only deems behaviour to be sexual harassment if it involves touching, meaning that the sending of “d*** pics” does not constitute a sexual crime.
As a result, offenders can now only be prosecuted under the country’s defamation laws.
To tackle this gap, the definition of sexual harassment will be widened under the new legislation to include “harassment verbally, through pictures or messages, taking photos of another or exposing oneself”, according to AFP citing the justice ministry.
Punishments will vary - from a fine to a prison sentence - depending on the severity of the crime.
Sami Kiriakos, a legal adviser to the Finnish justice ministry, told the France-based news agency that the proposal could be sent to the government “sometime next year” before being voted on in parliament.
Research shows that “sexual harassment is quite common”, making it “very relevant to consider how it should be dealt with in law”, the adviser added.
The comments comes after a study was released this year by children’s rights charity Plan International showing that slightly more than half of the 14,000 girls and women it surveyed had been subject to online sexual harassment.
Of the respondents aged between 15 and 25, 35 per cent of them said they had been sent “sexual or explicit photos or images”, according to the report.
Although some countries have yet to outlaw online sexual harassment, Scotland criminalised it in 2010 and offenders in Texas are liable as of this year to a $500 (£385) fine for sending unsolicited sexual images.
As well as broadening the definition of sexual harassment, Finland may also alter its classification of rape under the new legislation to mean sex without consent. Under the current definition, there has to be physical violence or the threat of it to constitute rape.
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