As of today, upskirting is officially a criminal offence. Under the Voyeurism Act, it is now a sexual offence in England and Wales.
Thanks to activist Gina Martin’s tireless 18-month-long campaign to make upskirting a specific law, victims will now be able to report their perpetrators, and crucially, police can now arrest those accused of upskirting.
Offenders could face up to two years in jail for taking photographs or videos under someone’s skirt without their consent, and serious offenders will be placed on the sex offenders’ register.
Data released by the police forces revealed that 94 upskirting incidents were reported in 2018 alone, compared to 78 in 2015-2017. The victims were mostly women, and their ages ranged from seven to 70.
Martin, 27, began campaigning after she was targeted at a music festival, and found out that upskirting was not illegal. She told Dazed how the men approached her and “became really invasive, asking us personal questions and standing way too close, rubbing up against my leg,” before noticing that they had taken a photo under her skirt.
The activist started an online petition which amassed over 50,000 signatures, but when the proposed law was brought to parliament, the Voyeur (Offences) Bill was blocked by Tory MP Christopher Chope. It was delayed further by Philip Davies, another Tory MP. Gross.
But despite the hurdles, Martin’s campaigning has finally paid off.
Upskirting has been a crime in Scotland for nearly 10 years, and though it is not yet a criminal offence in Northern Ireland, the Department of Justice is looking into potential changes to the legislation – a win for women across the UK.