'Revenge porn' illegal under new law to protect victims

A new law has made it a crime to distribute sexual images of someone on the web without their consent

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'Revenge porn' has become illegal in England and Wales, with an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill making it a crime to post sexual images and videos of someone without their consent on the internet.

Offenders could be jailed for up to two years under the new law, which covers images sent on social networks including Facebook and Twitter and also applies to pictures sent by mobile phone messaging, says the BBC.

The name 'revenge porn' derives from the idea that partners who have been jilted might then share naked photographs of an ex online as a way of 'getting their own back'.

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The new law defines revenge porn as "photographs or films which show people engaged in sexual activity or depicted in a sexual way or with their genitals exposed, where what is shown would not usually be seen in public".

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, former culture secretary Maria Miller, who campaigned for a new law to deal with the issue, welcomed the change.

She said: "By putting this in place the government has given young women the opportunity to protect themselves from their lives being blighted. When you speak to the victims of these crimes, many say that it feels as if you've been virtually raped.

"You can't underestimate the impact of having an image distributed to many people around the world."

Hazel Higgleton, a 25-year-old body piercer from Chelmsford, told BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat that her ex-boyfriend posted a sex tape of them together on various pornographic sites last year. She said she had been "pressured" into recording the tape.

There is some dissent about the new law: some legal groups fear it will lead to thousands of young people being criminalised. There are concerns that the sheer volume of complaints will be overwhelming.

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