Thursday, 17 December 2020
Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017: Report and Final Stages
I will be brief. We are debating image-based sexual abuse and legislation to combat that. It is about time that this legislation was passed. The legislation needs to be strengthened by the amendments that we are debating today.
This is legislation that has been within the Oireachtas for a period of three years. Successive governments and the political establishment have taken a blasé approach to it. It is the pressure from below - people power - which has put this issue on the agenda in recent weeks. I congratulate all the people who have been part of that push.
We are discussing amendments Nos. 1 to 7, inclusive. The amendments are aimed at closing a loophole. It is a loophole that would allow intimate images to be put out there that have been doctored or photoshopped, for example, where someone's face is part of the image and the rest of the body has been photoshopped. We want to close that loophole.
The amendments would also avoid a situation where someone who was a victim of this type of image-based sexual abuse would have to prove that it was he or she, and the onus of proof would be upon him or her. That would be wrong as well.
We have proposed amendment No. 6. We are not het up on amendment No. 6. If one of the other amendments which was effective was to be accepted by the Government, we would be happy with that. The important point is that this loophole is closed.