At 25 years old, Gina Martin went to a festival at Hyde Park in London. All she wanted was a fun day out with her sister.
As she was enjoying the Killers, she noticed a man on his mobile phone, looking at a picture of a woman’s crotch (I know this sounds creepy, but it’s just the beginning). She soon realised that the photograph he was looking at was of her. Taken without her permission. And just incase this story isn’t creepy enough for you, the photographer had sent the picture to someone else via WhatsApp.
She snatched his phone off of him, and began shouting at him, causing security to circle her as the pervert became upset that she had taken his phone (I know, get your violins out).
The security then called the police who were able to do nothing more than ask him to delete the picture. Which he did.
However, the courts were not able to charge him as upskirting was not a criminal offence, and at the time of me writing this article, it still isn’t.
On March the 6th 2018, a Bill was printed to amend section 67 of the 2003 sexual offences act. Under the current legislation, it is illegal to record any sexual act without the participants permission. Unfortunately, the legislation does not cover upskirting, probably because it wasn’t a very well known problem in 2003.
However, the new amendment would have made it very clear recording up someone’s skirt qualifies as sexual assault. It also would’ve meant that losers who commit the act could face up to 2 years in jail.
On the surface, this punishment might seem extreme, but on the internet, things spread incredibly quickly. If that photograph gets seen by her parents, friends, colleagues, or strangers, it could cause her great stress and embarrassment, not to mention could put future jobs in jeopardy, all for something that wasn’t her fault!
Imagine you’re in a public lavatory spending a penny after having a drink. Somebody, without your permission, takes a picture of your member and sends it to their friends via social media.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that upskirting is not okay!
A very rare occurrence happened when this bill tried to pass through the House of Commons. Almost everyone agreed with it.
Although it was put forward by a Liberal Democrat MP, MPs from the Tories and Labour all supported it. Even the government made very clear that they were on board with the Bill.
Young people enjoying themselves at a music festival
Unfortunately one particular MP, the right honourable member for Christchurch, did not share the same opinion on the Bill as the rest of parliament (and the country).
Under the current British constitution, it only takes one MP to object to prevent a private members bill from going through to a vote. All he did was yell ‘object’ and the bill was postponed from becoming a law.
Although some rumours have been speculating that Philip Davies attempted to filibuster the bill, he denies these claims and says he is a supporter of the bill.
Although he did attempt to justify his actions (no doubt, only to improve his PR after the vast media backlash), his justifications do not strike me as particularly valid.
The first argument he made was that the bill should not be passed into law because it had not been debated and scrutinised properly. However, in reality, anybody with any objections to the bill had plenty of opportunity to scrutinise it during the first or second reading, or even outside of the chamber. After all, the bill had been written way back in March.
The reason why nobody scrutinised it was because most MPs agreed with it.
The second argument he gave was that he did not know enough about upskirting. If that was the case, it would have made far more sense to abstain from the issue and allow those who do know enough about it to vote on it.
Not to mention, it doesn’t exactly take hours of studying to work out that filming up a woman’s skirt is creepy and disgusting!
After he blocked the bill, the media and Twitter had a lot to say!
Politicians and people from across all political parties, put aside their political differences to recognise the abhorrence of the MP’s actions.
Several people have called for his knighthood to be removed, and some Conservatives have called for him to be removed from the party.
Across the newspapers and tabloids, there has also been a general agreement. The Sun, The Mirror, The Independent, The Evening Standard, they all believe that Chope’s decision to block the bill was wrong. The only journalist who tried to justify his actions was Melanie McDonagh from The Spectator.
Making clear that she understood about the consensus amongst political parties, Gina Martin has said in a recent tweet “Having been inside Parliament working with the Government since September…This is not the Conservatives blocking the Bill. This is one man blocking the bill”
It is not just as a decent human being that I wish for this bill to be made into law. It is also as a Libertarian.
One of the core principles of my Libertarianism is that people should be free to do as they please, so long as what they please does not harm other people.
Recording up somebody’s skirt could cause genuine harm to the victim. As I mentioned earlier, if that video gets posted on social media, it could be seen by her parents, friends, or even future employers.
It seems ridiculous that a woman should have to suffer such embarrassment for doing absolutely nothing wrong!
Nick Freeman has argued that woman should take responsibly for their attire. But if somebody were to take a photograph of him using a public lavatory, I highly doubt that he would say “Well, it was my fault for using a urinal and not a cubical. I should have taken responsibly for where I peed”.