#STOPCYBERFLASHING triggers debate in Parliament

The campaign from sexual health charity Brook and Grey London strives to make cyberflashing illegal

Georgie Moreton

Deputy Editor, BITE Creativebrief


September last year sexual health and wellbeing charity Brook launched #STOPCYBERFLASHING with the help of Grey London. The campaign called for cyberflashing to be made illegal. Now, the charity has stepped up its activity, triggering a debate in Parliament with Fay Jones MP leading the efforts to stop cyberflashing. The aim is to ensure that obscene images sent without consent are made illegal,

Grey London and Brooks took a giant ad truck to parliament in order to push the #STOPCYBERFLASHING cause as the campaign enters its second wave. Fay Jones MP led the 30-minute debate in Westminster Hall on Tues 25th Jan, during which she presented the message of the #STOPCYBERFLASHING campaign, followed by a response from a DCMS minister. The full debate is available to watch here.

Back in October 2018, the Women and Equalities Committee recommended the government introduce a law criminalising cyberflashing as a sexual offence. Then in July 2021, a Law Commission review recommended that cyberflashing be made a criminal offense and said that current figures on it were just “the tip of the iceberg”. 

In the UK, at least 4 in 10 women and 25% of men have been cyberflashed. Despite

the distress it can cause, it is still not illegal in the UK unless the recipient is under 18. The practice has been proven to be a gateway behaviour to more dangerous acts; Sarah Everard’s killer was a flasher before becoming a rapist and murderer. 

“We want to challenge the misconception that cyberflashing is harmless or just a joke. Sending unsolicited images can cause distress and intimidation, and it needs to be recognised as sexual harassment. Having much clearer laws regarding cyberflashing would help reinforce the message that it is unacceptable. However, we also recognise that making something illegal doesn’t stop it from happening.” explained Lisa Hallgarten, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Brook. “People need to understand the harm that can be caused by carelessly sending these images and see that there is a real person on the receiving end. There also needs to be better understanding around consent so that everyone is equipped to develop safe, healthy relationships both online and in the real world.”  

Changing the law will not eradicate the behaviour completely, but it is an important first step towards establishing a culture that’s establishing cyberflashing as unacceptable and introduces a more sympathetic move towards supportive response to victims. As the #Cyberflashing campaign continues on, get involved and find out more information here.

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