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Durham University

Gender and Law at Durham


Durham Law Professors welcome proposed action over revenge pornography

(17 July 2014)

Durham University researchers welcomed the Government’s decision to examine and debate whether ‘revenge pornography’ should be criminalised.

However, Professors Clare McGlynn and Erika Rackley, of Durham Law School, caution that any new legislation should not distract political and public focus away from the harm of revenge pornography.

Professor Erika Rackley said: “Despite its name, revenge pornography is not ‘pornography’. Rather it is a form of, and is motivated by, harassment and abuse”.

She continued: “The explicit nature of the images are simply the vehicle though which the revenge – the abuse and harassment – is exacted”.

This is recognised by Scottish Women’s Aid in their powerful campaign to ‘Stop Revenge Porn’ in Scotland.

Professor Clare McGlynn said: “A new offence criminalising revenge pornography would be a welcome acknowledgement of the harm of revenge pornography. However, a new offence must only play a small part in addressing the underlying culture that creates and legitimises sexual violence.”

She continued: “It is vital that the Government commits not just to headline-making legislative reform, but also to law enforcement and compulsory sex and relationships education in schools”.

Professors Clare McGlynn and Erika Rackley are long-term critics of the current pornography laws. In research published in 2009 they argued that the failure of the law to include rape pornography represented a “missed opportunity” to take strong action against the normalisation of sexual violence.

You can read a full briefing on the amendments to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill here.

Research Briefing on Rape Pornography available here.