In a report tabled this week, the state parliamentary law reform committee incorporated each of Women’s Health West’s key recommendations regarding sexting. Our prime concern was the need for tailored legislation against the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.
‘Sexting’ is defined as ‘the creating, sharing or posting of sexually explicit messages or images via the internet, mobile phones or other electronic devices by people, especially young people.’
‘Given the context of contemporary culture, media and the internet that sexualises young women, “sexting” is often seen by girls as an obligation and by boys as a right,’ said Dr Robyn Gregory, CEO of Women’s Health West.
‘We applaud the committee for recommending that the non-consensual distribution of intimate images become an offence.
‘Women’s Health West sees the harm that can result from non-consensual sexting. It is clear in our work in schools and in our family violence service that this is a new form of violence against women.
‘We are pleased the report recommends cyber-safety training for students and teachers and underline the importance of using this opportunity to raise young people’s awareness of ethical behaviour within relationships.
‘Women’s Health West recommended that education initiatives focus on the gendered nature of the problem and called for a focus on respectful relationships education as well as risk reduction strategies.
‘We also commend the committee for taking action on WHW’s suggestion that these child pornography laws only be applied to adults who produce, possess or distribute child pornography, including sexted images of minors.
The Victorian Government has six months to respond to the committee’s report.
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