Germany said on Friday it was imposing harsher penalties against offenders engaging in “upskirting” following a fierce debate over the emergence of tiny cameras and smartphones used for such an act.
Upskirting, or taking unsolicited videos or pictures from under a person’s skirt or bustline, would be punishable of by a penalty and a jail term of up to two years.
Victims were often unaware they were being filmed or photographed.
The act often takes place in large crowds such as on public transportation, at festivals, or in bars and clubs.
Upskirting was only previously considered an administrative offence, while offenders were only slapped with small fines.
“To photograph a woman under her skirt or her bustline is a shameless violation of her privacy,” Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht was quoted as saying, adding that such photos and videos violate the persons’ rights to sexual self-determination.
Germany’s coalition legal spokesman Jan-Marco Luczak said that legislators are taking decisive actions against upskirting, adding that such acts of assault are humiliating, hurtful and often have a far-reaching psychological impact on the victim.
“That is why we are closing a major criminal liability gap,” he said.
“This is a very great symbol for justice, politics and society. The symbolic power should not be underestimated,” Hanna Seidel, who participated in the “Ban Upskirting in Germany!” petition, which collected more than 100,000 signatures, was quoted as saying.
“But a lot still needs to happen in society,” she added.
Upskirting was banned in the United Kingdom’s England and Wales last year, while France outlawed the practice in 2018.
On the same day, German lawmakers passed a measure making it illegal to film or photograph persons who have been killed in accidents. Offenders will be held criminally liable and will face a penalty and a jail term of up to two years.
PHOTO COURTESY: FLICKR