An online protest is provisionally organised for November 28th to demand the Government to bring in laws which will protect victims of image-based sexual abuse – incidents where sexually explicit images and videos are shared without the party’s consent. 

This follows the discovery of a 500-person Discord server containing thousands of sexually explicit and naked images of hundreds of Irish girls. These images and videos were also circulated across several online forums. It is currently not a criminal offence for this to occur in Ireland.

The server contained images taken from various platforms, including Onlyfans, Tinder, Snapchat and Instagram without the knowledge of the parties involved.  The server also reportedly contained child pornography. 

Discord, a popular VoIP and forum platform, has taken down the server and is preparing a file to send to An Garda Síochána with details of the people involved. 

Linda Hayden, the founder of ‘The Victims Alliance’ explained that this was not the first incident of this nature, stating she had seen “dozens of these files” but that this incident was certainly the largest.

Hayden denounced the large proportion of victim-blaming which is often seen around the crime of image-based abuse. She condemns those who claim that the fault lies with those who took the pictures. She believes that such comments help to further degrade victims, remove their bodily autonomy, and cause them to live in fear of how the images are used.

A change.org petition calling for the criminalisation of revenge porn was made shortly after these leaks became public knowledge. It had 28,166 signatures at the time of writing.

It calls for the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill be signed into Irish law. This would provide that those found guilty of acts like this be added to the sex offenders register and face a criminal conviction which could lead to no more than 7 years in prison. This Bill is to be brought before the Justice Committee of the Government on December 1st.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee stated that the progression of the Bill is a priority action and that she is committed to seeing it enacted as soon as possible, adding that “harassment and abuse in any form, whether online or otherwise, is utterly unacceptable and has no place in Irish society.”

Anyone who has been negatively affected by this can contact Women’s-Aid Ireland, their 24-hour helpline is 1800 341900 or contact the Victims Alliance on Twitter @vicsalliance. The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre’s National Helpline is 1 800 77 8888.

Oisin Magfhogartaigh – Reporter

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