Germany moves to criminalize upskirting

Germany’s government has passed a bill that would criminalize upskirting, the abusive practice where someone takes unsolicited pictures or video under another person’s clothing.

Global outrage has mounted against the act and campaigners have been instrumental in passing legislation against upskirting in multiple countries.

“Taking photographs of a woman under her skirt or neckline is degrading and unjustifiable abuse of her personal space,” German Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht said in a statement. “Often, these photos are shared in chat groups or even distributed commercially.”

The draft law, which says taking and distributing images “of the genitals, the buttocks, the female breast” that was otherwise covered by clothes or a towel will be a criminal offense. It will now need parliamentary approval before it becomes law.

The bill also bans the taking and distribution “of an image that displays a deceased person in a roughly offensive manner,” making it punishable by up to two years in prison.

“Taking photographs of deceased persons is not yet punishable. We close this gap now. We must spare the relatives the additional suffering of pictures of their deceased parents or children being spread around,” Lambrecht said.

Film student Hanna Seide spearheaded a petition in Germany calling for the prohibition of upskirting.

It has since gained more than 100,000 signatures and led the drive to change the law, according to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

Seide told Reuters that British campaigner Gina Martin, who became a victim of upskirting at a music festival in 2017, had inspired her.

Martin was shocked when the police declined to prosecute after she reported the incident. She subsequently discovered that upskirting was not a specific offense under English law, and expressed her anger at how the incident was handled on Facebook.

Her post went viral and in April upskirting was criminalized in English law.

In May, Singapore introduced new offenses for upskirt photography and also criminalized the sending of unsolicited intimate images, or “cyber flashing,” as part of a major crackdown on sexual harassment online.