New laws have been enforced in Victoria making it illegal for anyone to disseminate or threaten to share explicit images of another person without their consent.
According to a La Trobe Univerity study, more than 70 per cent of sexually active Year 10-12 students have sent an explicit text message, 84 per cent have received at least one, and over half have sent naked or semi naked photos of themselves.
The laws were implemented to protect individual’s rights and privacy. Clem Newton-Brown, MP for Prahran, recommended the changes in 2013.
“The legislation is to protect both children and adults. It creates a new offence of disseminating an intimate image without consent. It will be illegal if those images are sent on without consent,” Mr Newton-Brown told The Newsroom.
“Ideally it’s not a good idea and ideally we would prefer people not to sext but the reality is people do and the new laws will protect them.”
The new offence carries a maximum punishment of two years imprisonment .
“It’s [sharing explicit messages] an invasion of privacy and it’s unauthorised,” Anna Mather, a mother of three, told The Newsroom.
“There’s a consequence for someone taking the liberty to violate rights, my rights being my privacy. It’s good that there is now a punishment but hopefully it will make people think twice before pressing the send button.”
The Napthine government has also introduced a new law that provides under-18s a defence to any child pornography charges that stems from consensual sexting.
The law ensures that anyone under 18 who creates, possesses or distributes an intimate image or sext of themselves or of another minor who is less than two years younger than them, will not be guilty of child pornography offences.
“This [law] is important because kids who sext to other kids are not pedophiles,” Mr Newton Brown told The Newsroom.
The new laws were enforced to send clear message that the malicious use of intimate images to embarrass and belittle a victim is unacceptable and is a criminal offence. – Erica Larrubia