52,000 sign petition for prosecution of pervert and change to sex offence law
by Felicity Collier
GIG organisers must stamp out creeps who take perverted pics at live shows, with a young woman harassed at a central London festival demanding that the cops get their act together as well.
Gina Martin has had to campaign for police to take action after they deleted the evidence that a man had taken a photo up her skirt at the British Summer Time festival in Hyde Park last month.
A petition demanding the act be listed clearly as a crime and for the cops to prosecute the pervert has amassed over 52,000 signatures.
Ms Martin called on organisers to take urgent action to ensure women’s safety, including raising awareness of disgusting men taking “up-skirt” photos.
The 25-year-old was with her sister at the festival when she was harassed by two men behind her who were dancing against her and being “generally creepy.”
Half an hour later, she saw one of the men laughing at a photo on his phone and was shocked to identify it as herself.
She said: “It wasn’t quickly taken, it wasn’t blurry — it was a good shot up a woman’s skirt — right in between her legs.”
Ms Martin said it was up to gig organisers, promoters and artists to demand and ensure a safe environment for women.
“People will listen to their heroes. There needs to be initiatives around that being a big conversation during these kinds of events,” she said.
Security responded quickly when she ran towards them with the man “screaming” after her. They shockingly told her that “it happens a fair amount in crowded spaces.”
Although police turned up within minutes and were sympathetic, a week later they told Ms Martin that they would not be taking further action and had deleted the image.
Saying it was “not graphic,” the police told her “there wasn’t much they could do.” Ms Martin said the cops’ actions had left her feeling “dejected and sad.”
However, the attention drummed up by her petition has forced them to reopen the case.
Ms Martin also wants the taking of up-skirt photos to be listed clearly as a sexual offence. Currently its legal status is murky.
“Legally it is not covered by the law around voyeurism, as the incident took place in public rather than private,” said Durham University law professor Clare McGlynn.
It could fall under “outraging public decency” — resulting from an act which is “lewd, obscene or disgusting” — and that has been used in previous cases.
“But even that doesn’t cover all incidents, if it’s not public enough to outrage public decency,” Prof McGlynn said.
The Law Commission said in 2015 that laws covering public nuisance and public decency should be changed to clearly outlaw the taking of up-skirt photos.
Britain lags behind other countries in stamping out such harassment. It has been illegal in Australia for a decade.
Anti-gig-harassment campaigners Girls Against condemned the attack: “Taking photos up girls’ skirts is a crime; genitalia or not, it violates your dignity and makes you feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated.”
And Victim Support policy chief Rachel Almeida said it was “no doubt a crime and a complete abuse of an individual’s privacy, which could potentially damage their self-esteem and leave them feeling victimised.”
Ms Martin told the Star that security staff are “usually brilliant” at taking action but event organisers don’t state clearly they won’t tolerate any sexual harassment.
“More needs to be done to keep women safe in these spaces,” she said.
Music Venue Trust chief executive Mark Davyd said operators were “acutely aware” of the problem of sexual harassment and that the charity was drawing up guidance to help ensure women’s safety at gigs.
“It’s of genuine concern — everybody feels there is more we can be doing,” Mr Davyd said, adding that it will likely be discussed at its Venues Day conference in October.
The manager of Guildford’s Boileroom, Lydia Stockbridge, said the venue had “been working with Safe Gigs for Women and Girls Against to make sure customers feel safe and more aware” and hoped to produce its own anti-harassment guide for venues this year and festivals next year.