Limerick woman who suffered 'revenge porn' starts campaign to make it a criminal offence

Martin Mongan

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Martin Mongan

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news@limerickleader.ie

Limerick woman who suffered 'revenge porn' starts campaign to make it a criminal offence

A YOUNG Limerick woman has started a petition to make Revenge Pornography a criminal offence in Ireland. The petition organised by Megan Sims, 23, from Janesboro has over 2,500 signatures since it began in the middle of July.

As technology continues to advance and open endless opportunities for internet users, there is a dark side to the cyber world and reality.

There are countless ways to use the internet in a positive way, like we have seen during the Covid-19 pandemic. We've experienced life through the lens of our cameras and devices but unfortunately for many, it hasn't been a great experience.

Women's Aid's definition of 'revenge porn' outlines “the online posting of sexually explicit visual material, without the consent of the person portrayed. The term typically includes photographs and video clips which have been consensually generated-either jointly or by self (“sexting”), as well as content covertly recorded by a partner or unknown third party.”

Megan was personally impacted by revenge porn in 2016. A number of her pictures and videos were shared and viewed by thousands of people.

“I logged into my Facebook and I had like 400 plus messages calling me horrible names and telling me to kill myself, which led to suicide attempts,” she said.

Megan went off social media for a while but was told that her photos, along with other girls from Limerick were posted on an anonymous porn website.

She gave screenshots as evidence to the Gardaí but was told that nothing could be done as there isn't any laws against it in Ireland.

Many countries across the world have laws against revenge pornography that carry fines and/or prison time. The UK implemented such laws in 2015.

As Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, they have legislation in place to criminalise revenge pornography: Part 3, Section 51, Amendment to Justice Act 2016, unlike their counterparts south of the border.

The lack of legislation available inspired Megan to start the petition.

“I've gotten two negative comments but I've also received an overwhelming amount of support. So many girls have reached out saying that they're crying with happiness as what you're doing means so much to me" She said.

Megan also highlighted that a lot of girls didn't realise that they were victims of this crime.

One girl told Megan: “I didn't realise that I was a victim”

Megan rightly pointed out that they are a victim and they deserve this legislation to be pushed through.

Megan reached out to TD's throughout the country to share the petition or to help in any way they could.

Brendan Howlin is a TD and a member of the Labour party from Wexford.

Howling approached Minister for Justice Helen McEntee.

“To be fair to him, he went off his own back and met with the Minister of Justice Helen McEntee and explained that there isn't any laws in place and they want to push legislation through by the end of the year.”

Megan will be reaching out to get some legal advice to make sure that the legislation will protect the women involved, as it is a “sexual abuse crime and the legislation must say that as such.

“I'm doing this to help others and I think it's the best thing that I've ever done.

The more signatures we get the more the government have to take it seriously and the adequate laws are pushed through” Megan added.

Implementing legislation on revenge porn has been on the governments radar for a number of years.

“This was proposed to the government in 2017 and it's been lapped multiple times because it obviously wasn't a priority for them” Megan concluded.

If you wish to share and sign the petition please follow Megan's Twitter @meganjrenee and click the link on her pinned tweet.