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Roberta Metsola heads EU campaign to end revenge porn

Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola, of the European People’s Party, has launched a written declaration on revenge pornography and cyberbullying in the European Parliament

jeanelle_mifsud
Jeanelle Mifsud
24 November 2016, 3:24pm
Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola has launched a written declaration on revenge pornography and cyberbullying
Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola has launched a written declaration on revenge pornography and cyberbullying
Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola, of the European People’s Party, has launched a written declaration on revenge pornography and cyberbullying in the European Parliament.

Revenge porn is legally defined as the sharing of private, often sexual or explicit, photos or videos, of another person with the purpose of causing embarrassment or distress. The act has been criminalised in some countries, and often carries a jail sentence.

“The high profile cases of so-called revenge pornography in Malta, Italy, the United Kingdom and across the EU is symptomatic of a problem that is prevalent in our societies We are seeing case after case of people - young people in particular - who are blackmailed, bullied and tormented because their private photos and videos are shared without their permission, leaving them little or no recourse,” she said while speaking in Strasbourg, adding that such a situation in unacceptable.

Reports show that 14 police forces in England and Wales recorded a total of 139 revenge porn allegations in the six months to April 2015, with 10 victims under the age of consent.

Last month, news broke of an Italian woman who had committed suicide as a result of her pornographic video being disseminated online, going viral. The woman was said to be tormented and harassed online, leading her to her demise.

In Malta, earlier this month a pentioner from Marsa became the first person to be charged with circulating revenge porn in the country after Parliament had approved amendments on laws related to pornography.

“We know the devastating effects that this crime can have on its victims including severe mental health issues, social stigma and in some cases even suicide. It must be stopped,” Metsola said.

She added that the sharp rise in online and mobile social platform users has been accompanied by a sharp rise in bullying and harassment. This requires "increased efforts to address this issue while striking a balance between prevention of harassment and respect for freedom of speech," the declaration read.

It also made reference to other forms of harrassment targeting minorities, calling for amendments to hate crime legislation. "While some online social platforms have signed EU anti-hate-speech legislation, more must be done to combat online harassment, particularly against women, religious and ethnic minorities, LGBTI and people with disabilities when this form of harassment is not yet covered by existing hate crime legislation."

The signatories of the declaration called on the European Commission and the Council to encourage member states to take all necessary measures to fight these situation. The declaration mentioned criminal charges against all forms of revenge pornography, including in cross-border cases, the development of general and targeted anti-cyberbullying awareness and education programmes, and the further involvement of the private sector to combat cyberbullying and to stop the dissemination of revenge pornography.