April 12, 2019 - 14:55 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Upskirting is now a criminal offense in England and Wales, after a campaign by a woman who was targeted by an offender at a music festival.
The offense -- which involves taking a photo under an individual's clothing with the intention of viewing their underwear, genitals or buttocks without their knowledge -- will be punishable by up to two years' imprisonment, with the most serious offenders being placed on the sex offenders' registers, Britain's Ministry of Justice said Friday.
"We have always been clear -- there are no excuses for this behavior and offenders should feel the full force of the law. From today, they will," Justice Minister Lucy Frazer said in a statement.
The legislation gained traction in Parliament after a campaign by Gina Martin, who became a victim of upskirting at the British Summer Time music festival in 2017.
Martin, now 27, reported the incident to the police but was shocked when they declined to prosecute. She subsequently discovered that upskirting was not a specific offense under English law.
She expressed her anger at how the incident was handled on Facebook, and her post quickly went viral, with many posters sharing their own experiences.
Martin launched an online petition calling for her case to be reopened by the police, and it soon gained 50,000 signatures and was picked up by Wera Hobhouse, a member of Parliament for the Liberal Democrats.
Hobhouse subsequently brought a bill to Parliament calling for the creation of a specific upskirting offense.
Her bill was expected to pass easily through the House of Commons, but it was blocked by one MP from the governing Conservative Party during its second reading.
Nonetheless, the government gave its support to a new law, and the Voyeurism Act was brought before Parliament last summer, successfully passing both houses.