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The non-consensual distribution of intimate images needs an urgent Government response, including the establishment of a helpline for victims, according to Social Democrats TD for Dublin Central, Gary Gannon.

Deputy Gannon, who is the party’s spokesperson for Education, said:

“An abhorrent act took place this week when thousands of intimate images of women and young girls were shared online without consent. As wrong as it was, there is currently no law in Ireland which protects people against such an act.

“I, along with many others, am calling on the Minister for Justice to expedite the Harassment, Harmful Communication and Other Related Offences Bill 2017. I am also calling on the Minister for Health and the Minister for Justice to establish a helpline or messaging service for those affected to acknowledge the impact it has on mental health and wellbeing.

“Research indicates a negative health and wellbeing effect on survivors and victims, such as PTSD, depression and anxiety. I am particularly conscious that under Level 5 restrictions there is a risk of increased isolation as many familiar and friend supports may not be as available to those affected or they may feel they cannot tell their support networks.

“Recent research conducted by the ESRI showed that Ireland still has issues when discussing relationships and sexuality openly in the home. The benefits a helpline could have by offering non-judgemental and trained support should not be overlooked.

“In a vacuum of legislative action, the availability of such a service would be a small act of acknowledgement and solidarity.

“The reality is that these acts are part of violence against women and we need to recognise the damage caused by the distribution of non-consensual images – not only legislatively but within our policies and practices. We need not only punitive action as urgently as possible but preventative action too.”

November 19, 2020

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