Upskirting is officially a specific criminal offence, punishable by a jail sentence of up to two years.
Upskirting is the act of taking a photo or video under someone’s clothes without their permission or without them knowing. The intention being to capture footage of genitals or underwear.
27-year-old Gina Martin is the force behind the campaign, which she started after she was upskirted whilst as a music festival. She has spent almost two years campaigning for the motion to be passed.
The Tab spoke to Gina in 2017 when she began fighting for the change. Gina was in the crowd at the British Summertime Festival to watch The Killers when she came into contact with two men standing nearby. After noticing the men laughing at their phone, she realised the picture they were laughing at was an image of her crotch.
Gina told The Tab: “I sort of latched onto it. I grabbed the phone and double-checked it was me. Then we got into a bit of a scuffle. I ran off with the phone to security, through the crowd while he chased me. When I got to security I gave them the phone and then the police arrived.”
Gina continued: “The police were really kind and compassionate. But they basically said ‘we’re really sorry we had a look at the photo, it shows more than you’d like, but it’s not graphic so you probably won’t hear much from us.'”
After this incident, Gina took to Facebook to share her experiences and the post quickly gained a lot of attention. From that day, she started her battle to make upskirting a punishable crime.
As of today, it’s now an offence to “without consent, take pictures beneath a person’s clothing to observe their genitals or buttocks, whether covered or uncovered by underwear”, or to have “a motive of either gaining sexual gratification or causing humiliation, distress or alarm to the victim.”
The Independent reported that girls as young as 10 have been subject to upskirting and there were 94 reported cases in 2018. It most frequently happens in a public place like in shops, nightclubs or at festivals.
Speaking about today’s huge step, Gina posted on her Instagram wearing a t-shirt saying “today is a good day”, and encouraged people to report cases of upskirting. She said: “From today, if you fall victim to upskirting or see it happening to someone, the perpetrator could face fines, be put on the sex offenders register or up to two years in prison.
“We’re done with the entitlement over women and marginalised genders bodies. We’re done with waiting for others to change things for us, and we’re done with changing our behaviour because others fail to control theirs.
“Throughout the last 20 months there have been a lot of bad days. But today? Today is a good day.”
Gina told the i that she was happy her hard work had paid off and the change had finally come about. She said: “It feels amazing to have got this over the line having started this almost two years ago with no legal or political experience. My lawyer and campaign partner Ryan Whelan really helped us get here and now we can say upskirting is illegal.”