Offenders responsible under sexting laws

THE Victorian government will create an offence for non-consensual sexting.

Legislation will be introduced next year to make non-consensual sharing of sexually explicit images or media illegal.

Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre social worker Courtney Lucanto said the new law would ensure people would be legally responsible if they passed on sexualised images without consent.

“Non-consensual sexting can have huge impacts on the person in the image,” she said.

 “It occurs more often than people think and is growing problem.

“Non-consensual sexting can be used as blackmail and a threat to try and exert control over somebody.

“There have been several high-profile cases where technology has been used to capture sexual images of people and they have been distributed without their consent.

“The consequences can be terrible.”

The recommendation for the offence was outlined in a government response on Tuesday to the Victorian Parliament Law Reform Committee’s Inquiry into Sexting.

Attorney-General Robert Clark said the new law would respond specifically to the issue of sexting to ensure that appropriate penalties applied to those who misused technology.

“It will make it an offence to intentionally distribute, or threaten to distribute, an intimate image of another person or persons without their consent,” he said.

“This will continue to make clear that such behaviour is unacceptable and illegal."

The legislation will also ensure youths found sexting do not face child pornography charges.

Ms Lucanto said it was important young people under 18 years of age who were in consensual relationships and sharing images of themselves did not face child pornography offences.

“Child pornography laws were created to stop the exploitation and abuse of children by adults,” she said.

“The (child pornography) laws do not necessarily reflect the current and sometimes sexualised use of technology between young people.”

merran.reed@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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