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Laws proposed after intimate images of Irish women shared without consent

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image captionGardaí have said they are "aware of reports" of the sharing of a large number of intimate images without consent

Tougher new laws will be enacted after thousands of images of Irish women were shared online without consent, the Irish justice minister has said.

Writing on social media, Helen McEntee said the incident had "caused so much upset and anger".

Gardaí (Irish police) confirmed they were investigating.

In a statement, gardaí said they were "aware of the reports" and the organised and serious crime unit had "commenced probative enquires".

It is understood some of the content relates to minors, and was shared by users in a number of online forums.

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The Victims Alliance, a support group, has been in contact with a number of those affected by the sharing of the images, and is working to identify those involved.

'Zero tolerance'

One of the forums where the images were shared was messaging platform Discord.

In a statement, a company spokesperson said: "No one should have to endure the pain of having private images posted online without their consent.

"Discord has a zero-tolerance approach to non-consensual pornography and child sexual abuse material, and we work aggressively and proactively to keep it off of our service."

The company said as it became aware of the server it permanently deleted it, and identified and banned about 500 users involved.

It said it would "cooperate on this matter with Irish authorities subject to applicable law".

Discord's terms of service explicitly ban the sharing of "sexually explicit content of other people without their consent".

'A criminal offence'

Ms McEntee said she would work to enact the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill next month.

In addition, she said she would bring proposals to the Irish cabinet next week for changes to the law that would "make it a criminal offence to share intimate images without consent".

"This is not just about revenge porn - sharing such images will become a criminal offence, regardless of the motivation of the person who passes them on," she said.

She said it would make it irrelevant if consent was given for the image to be taken, if the image was then shared without consent.

The Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill was first proposed in 2017, but was not passed prior to the dissolution of the Irish government earlier this year.

'Call it out'

The issue was raised by a number of Irish parliamentarians (TDs) on Thursday.

Speaking in the Dáil (Irish lower chamber), Social Democrat TD Holly Cairns said the incident involved "online folders with thousands of images which have been taken and shared without consent".

She said the issues "primarily affects young women", some of whom "are underage".

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"I would like to send a clear message to anyone whose images have been shared without your consent: It is not your fault, you didn't do anything wrong, and you're not to blame," she said.

She called for the legislation related to the matter to be expedited, and for Ms McEntee to move "immediately" to make sharing of intimate images without consent a crime.

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald told the Dáil the sharing of the images was a "profound violation of women and girls' rights".

"Sexual harassment remains a constant in the lives of girls and women," she said.

Related Topics

  • Revenge porn
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Social media

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