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Update on UK Parliament's 'Upskirting' Bill

Anthea Sully, CEO White Ribbon UK

With the Brexit process taking up parliamentary time and attention, it would be possible to overlook that on the 15th of January the House of Lords will be debating the third reading of the Voyeurism Offences Bill. Aimed at making ‘upskirting’ a defined criminal offence in England and Wales, the Bill has had a bumpy ride in Westminster, including controversial blocking from some MPs.  Laws against the taking of images where consent had not been given, such as 'upskirt' pictures has been an offence in Scotland since 2010, and the issue had been raised for England and Wales over several years, including by some White Ribbon ambassadors. As we reported in June last year, it finally found its way into proposed legislation due to the positive online campaign led by Gina Martin (see video below), herself a victim of upskirting.

The Voyeurism Bill was blocked by MPs back in June 2018

The Voyeurism Bill was blocked by MPs back in June 2018

White Ribbon ambassadors will always challenge attitudes that would see behaviour such as upskirting as acceptable.  Having this clearly set out as a criminal offence shows the serious nature of these activities, and that there is absolutely no excuse to invade someone’s privacy in this way. We firmly believe that this legislation is long overdue and will make activities such as attending music festivals and travelling on public transport much safer for women.

Manchester Music & Creative Industry Networking Event

As part of our Safer Music and Venues Programme, and in the run up to Sonder Festival (27th - 30th September), White Ribbon UK had a strong presence at the Networking event for MMCI this year. Our Chairperson, Brian Mitchell; and Projects Co-ordinator, Ikram Butt had a stall and spoke onstage about the work we do nationwide, the hard work our ambassadors do, and our presence at festivals and venues across the country.

Many pledged their support at the event, and a significant number of people showed an interest in becoming ambassadors for the campaign, including organisers of Sonder Festival. As we develop new opportunities for all types of venues and events to work with us and ally themselves with the ethos of the campaign, we look forward to the future. The work of these high profile individuals in the industry will no doubt help the campaign, and ultimately reduce male violence against women in these industries.

The prevalent culture of violence and sexism in the music industry must change, and this event brought us another step closer to doing that. 

Sonder Festival is an event organised with the help of White Ribbon UK. There will be a White Ribbon stage, as well as opportunities to talk to our ambassadors about the campaign and the work we do. It will be held on the weekend of 27th September this year, in various venues across Manchester. The White Ribbon Stage will open the festival at The Bread Shed venue, with a line-up consisting of mostly women (recognising the lack of women representation at festivals). Sign up for the event here.