'An increasing number of women in the UK are being sent sexually explicit images to their phones by nearby strangers in public - it's called cyber-flashing, and in many countries, it's not a criminal offence.' (Thomson Reuters Foundation).
‘The UK Government is updating the Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy and has launched a nationwide Call for Evidence in order to ensure that those who have lived experiences of abuse and violence, and the views of members of the public are at the heart of plans to stop these harmful crimes. The Call to Evidence runs until February 19.’ (fayjones.org.uk)
Fay Jones MP asks the Safeguarding Minister about steps to stop cyberflashing. See video clip
House of Commons Debate:
Domestic Abuse and Hidden Harms During Lockdown
Volume 687: debated on Thursday 14 January 2021
'While the rule of thumb for online crimes is supposed to be “what is illegal offline is illegal online”, when it comes to receiving unsolicited sexual images online, people don’t have many options for recourse. MPs Jess Phillips and Maria Miller spoke to HuffPost about the abuse of online images, and how society and the law need to catch up with protecting people’s rights.' (Huffington Post UK).
'Joanna Hardy, Criminal Barrister at Red Lion Chambers, highlights the urgent need for new legislation to tackle ‘cyber flashing’ sexual offending, including the sending of unsolicited sexual images and posting revenge porn.'
'Shoehorning modern behaviour into old laws tends to be knotty. Public decency laws are archaic and have already fallen short when applied to up-skirting. One-off victimisation on public transport or on a dating app will not always contravene harassment laws. The core of the Malicious Communications Act 1988 was drafted before most millennials were born and was never aimed at cyber sexual offending.' (Joanna Hardy).
'[W]e examine the phenomenon of cyberflashing, outlining its prevalence, harms, and victim-survivors’ experiences. We then consider the extent to which English criminal law currently applies to this form of sexual abuse. We argue that although cyberflashing can be prosecuted in England and Wales, this is only in very limited circumstances; the existing law is confusing, piecemeal, has significant omissions, and consequently prosecutions are extremely unlikely. As such, the current criminal law in England and Wales is failing victim-survivors of cyberflashing. Due to its prevalence, its harmful impacts and similarities with other criminalised forms of sexual violence, comprehensive law reform, which appropriately addresses cyberflashing as a sexual offence, is now critical. Accordingly, we examine legislation in other jurisdictions where criminal laws targeting cyberflashing have been adopted, and provide recommendations for law reform: specifically, we recommend the development of a new criminal offence that purposely targets cyberflashing in all its forms.' The Journal of Criminal Law
'Cyberflashing is where a man – and yes it is almost always a man – sends a picture of his penis to another without their consent. Often the penis images are sent through Bluetooth or Airdrop technology, so the perpetrator is unknown. Sometimes referred to as 'unsolicited dick pics', women commonly experience this sexual harassment, in public spaces and on public transport. It’s also common on dating apps and, for many women, it’s an everyday experience on social media.' (Kelly Johnson and Clare McGlynn)
'Image-based sexual abuse is a pervasive and pernicious form of sexual abuse. We use the term ‘image-based sexual abuse’ to refer to a broad range of abusive behaviours including the taking and/or distribution of nude or sexual images without consent, including threats to do so, which includes so-called ‘revenge porn’, ‘upskirting’, fakeporn, sexual extortion and videos of sexual assaults and rapes. This report draws on interviews with 25 victim-survivors of image-based sexual abuse and over 25 stakeholders, including police, policy-makers, lawyers and survivor organisations conducted over a six-month period in 2018.'
'Isabella Smith had only been a student at the University of Birmingham for a couple of weeks when she received unsolicited ‘dick pics’ on her iPhone. Sitting in a business lecture on October 19, surrounded by her peers, the 20-year-old fresher was sent a stream of sexual images via AirDrop – the WiFi and Bluetooth enabled feature that allows the transfer of files between anyone within 30 feet of each other. She knew the sender was likely in the same room as her. '
'1/4 After literal years of campaigning on cyber flashing, today the @Law_Commission recommended it be included as a sexual offence under s.66 of the Sexual Offences Act. I am over the moon (and although not the end of the road - a significant step in the right direction)' (Sophie Gallagher).
'Reform of the law is needed to protect victims from harmful online behaviour including abusive messages, cyber-flashing, pile-on harassment, and the malicious sharing of information known to be false. The Law Commission consulted on a number of proposals to improve the protection afforded to victims by the criminal law, while at the same time provide better safeguards for freedom of expression. We launched our consultation paper on 11 September 2020, and the consultation period ran until 18 December 2020. We are now analysing the many responses to our consultation, which will inform development of our final recommendations, to be published in 2021.' (Law Commission).
'Cyberflashing has been on the rise since the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet, despite its prevalence and significant harms, cyberflashing is not a criminal offence in England and Wales.
This crucial book provides new in-depth analysis, understanding and insight into the nature and harms of cyberflashing. The authors consider recently adopted laws in the US, Singapore and Scotland, and set out proposals to criminalise cyberflashing as a sexual offence in English law.
This unique and timely study presents the first comprehensive examination of cyberflashing and the need to reform the criminal law.'
' I set up this site to share my journey about being a victim of Image Based Sexual Abuse; my aim to empower other people who have experienced the same. To share with them that they were’not alone’ and that you can take back your power by speaking your truths. For me this was one of the ways I could ‘self counsel’ to help heal my spirit and make a difference. I felt the need to provide a common safe place for experiencers (victims) to share their journey, access support and discuss and share common feelings without being judged.' (Folami Prehaye, founder of VOIC).
'We are seeking your views to help inform the development of the government’s next Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy. We are particularly keen to hear from people who may feel underrepresented in previous strategies or who feel their circumstances were not supported by existing services.
In addition to those with lived experiences of these issues, we are also seeking the views of those with expertise in working with victims and survivors, those involved in preventative activity, and those involved in providing services. This includes relevant professionals, such as those working in social care, education, law enforcement, local government, public health and healthcare.
Everyone aged 16 or over is welcome to contribute to the call for evidence, you do not have to have experienced violence or abuse to take part.'
You can respond by using either email, post or online survey.
Consultation deadline is 11:45pm on 26 March 2021
Take part in the Government consultation before 26 March 2021:
1. Email to:
2. Write to:
Interpersonal Abuse Unit
Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Team
5th Floor, Fry Building
2 Marsham Street
3. Take a 15 minute online survey now: