Justice Minister to criminalize image-based sexual abuse following discovery of files with up to 140,000 images online

Justice Minister to criminalize image-based sexual abuse following discovery of files with up to 140,000 images online

Minister for Justice & Equality, Helen McEntee TD, took to Twitter to say that she will bring proposals to Cabinet next Tuesday for inclusion in the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill.

The Minister for Justice has announced that she is working to enact a bill that would make it a criminal offence to share intimate images without consent.

Taking to Twitter, Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD said that she is working to enact the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill.

“I share that anger and I want people to know that I am determined to act and to introduce tough new laws to ensure that anyone who shares these kinds of images will face serious criminal sanctions,” she said in a thread on Twitter.

The Minister will bring a proposal to Cabinet on Tuesday to include the Bill and enact it “as soon as possible”.

It comes following the discovery of tens of thousands of images of Irish women which were circulating online through different social media platforms and forums.

The discovery of the "leak" was made by Megan Sims, the head of Image-Based Crime at the Victims Alliance, who found hundreds of cases of image-based sexual abuse.

Speaking to The Echo, Founder of Victims Alliance, Linda Hayden said that some files had up to 140,000 images within them.

“Megan was working on a case where she was trying to identify where a leak had come from for a victim and she went onto one the forums while searching for the image and noticed that there were these big files,” she said.

“Then we found more of them, hundreds of them, with anything from 1,500 images up to 140,00 images in them and there are hundreds of these files across loads of different platforms.”

Ms Haydeb said that the Victims Alliance would welcome the introduction of the Bill, but some amendments may be required in order to ensure it is “robust”.

Holly Cairns TD has welcomed the Minister’s decision to accelerate the legislation.

“Where there is no consent, the law should step in and we didn’t have laws in place so we let all of these women down with poor policy and followed by that, inaction because that legislation has been there for a while and it hasn’t been tabled," she said.

“It can’t come quickly enough, there’s no excuse for a delay.” 

“I look forward to working with [Victims Alliance] to table any motions that they feel are necessary to this legislation. We have to make it survivors centred," she added.

Those who have been affected are reminded that support is available from Women's-Aid's 24-hour helpline on 1800 341 900 and the Sexual Violence Centre Cork on 1800 496 496. 

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