By Jonathan McCambridge, PA
A new awareness campaign highlighting that threatening to share intimate images of another person is a crime is to be launched by the Government.
The Serious Consequences campaign – which will run on TV, cinema, local and national radio, and digital and social media – seeks to empower victims by making them aware of the legislation and protections available.
Minister for Justice Simon Harris said he wanted to make people aware of legislation on intimate image abuse under Coco’s Law.
He said: “We know that threatening to share intimate imagery can be a feature of coercive control, for example, in relationships.
“We also know that it is a threat that can be used purely for monetary or financial gain.
“Whatever a person’s motivation for threatening to share an intimate image of another person, it is a crime through Coco’s Law which (former justice) Minister (Helen) McEntee enacted in 2021 and which is now seen across Europe as a pioneering piece of legislation.
“Research carried out on behalf of my department shows that half the population does not know that this is illegal. We want to change that.”
In September 2021, following on from the commencement of Coco’s Law (the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Act 2020), the Department of Justice launched the first phase of a campaign to raise awareness of intimate image abuse and to inform people of the legislation in place to combat it.
The first phase focused on the sharing of intimate images without consent and highlighted that this is a criminal offence regardless of the motivation for doing so.
Phase two of the campaign focuses on raising awareness that it is illegal to threaten to share an intimate image of another person.
Mr Harris continued: “Last June, my department launched Zero Tolerance, our third national strategy on domestic, sexual and gender based violence.
“It is an ambitious five-year programme of reform to achieve a society which does not accept DSGBV (domestic, sexual and gender-based violence) or the attitudes which underpin it.
“We know the importance of criminal justice, of strong legislation, of reporting, of supports for victims and of a co-ordinated approach in our work with victims – and we are working hard on initiatives in each of those areas.
“But I believe the fundamental weapon we have in the fight against domestic, sexual and gender based violence is, and will always be, prevention.
“It is that huge piece of work around change in attitudes and social norms as to what is acceptable in Irish society.”
Coco’s Law was named after Nicole Fox, who died by suicide following years of online bullying.