Here’s an excerpt from my article for TIME Magazine:
“Taking cellphone pictures or videos up a woman’s skirt without her consent is perfectly legal in Georgia, a Georgia Court of Appeals ruled this month.
A Georgia man confessed to taking cellphone video up a woman’s skirt in a grocery store. Yet the state’s voyeurism law did not prohibit his actions. Instead, the law prohibits such recording only if they “occur in any private place and out of public view.”
Typically, voyeurism laws like this were passed to protect people from non-consensual filming in private places like homes, dressing rooms and locker rooms—not in public spaces like a grocery store. In Georgia, the ruling came down to the interpretation of “place.” The court was divided, but ultimately, the majority opinion said that “place” referred to a physical location, not an area of the body, and thus the non-consensual photos taken were legal…
Some may wonder why it is important to prohibit such behavior, especially if many women are unaware that they are being recorded. Taking recordings up someone’s skirt, especially to share online or use in other ways for sexual gratification, does not add anything productive or positive to society. Instead it can make women as a whole feel less safe and comfortable in public spaces just knowing that they could be the target of such actions. If they have been recorded before or know someone who has, they may feel violated, upset and distrusting while in public spaces.
Upskirt recordings are a form of gender-based street harassment, and street harassment is a widespread problem in the United States, ranging from sexual comments to following and groping. It affects at least 65% of women and 25% of men (for the latter, the harassment mostly takes the form of homophobic slurs). Street harassment can make people feel less safe, affect them emotionally, and be re-traumatizing for survivors of sexual abuse.
Why do we need a law against upskirt recordings? While there are pitfalls to laws — including how hard it can be hard to enforce them and how the legal system is often fraught with racism, sexism, and victim-blaming — they can set the tone that certain behavior is not OK. Further, it is incongruent to have such recordings be legal in one state but not in the next.
I am not naïve enough to think a law will deter every upskirt recorder. But it may deter many.
And even if a law doesn’t deter everyone, there are other actions we can take to try to stop future violations. Just as people everywhere have been taking a stand against street harassment in recent years, there are a growing number of women who will not stay silent about upskirt photos and have used the power of social shaming and turning their devicesback around on the man as a way to find justice.
Bystanders can play a role, too. If you see someone taking an upskirt photo and you feel safe to do so, call them out, videotape them, or take some other type of action that lets them (and everyone else nearby) know that this behavior is not OK. Social shaming can be a powerful deterrent.”Share on Facebook