Cyberflashing campaign triggers debate in parliament

cyberflashing triggers debate in parliament

A cyberflashing debate is took place in parliament on Tuesday, thanks to a hard-hitting campaign launched in September by Brook, the sexual health and wellbeing charity, and ad agency, Grey London.

Cyberflashing debate

Grey London and Brooks took a giant ad truck to parliament in order to push the #STOPCYBERFLASHING cause as the campaign enters its second wave. 

Fay Jones MP led the 30-minute debate in Westminster Hall (1600-1630, Tues 25 Jan), during which she presented the message of the #STOPCYBERFLASHING campaign, followed by a response from a DCMS minister.

#STOPCYBERFLASHING was a national outdoor and digital campaign that called for cyberflashing – the sending of unsolicited nude pictures online – to be made illegal. 

It featured eye-catching illustrations of people cyberflashing, censored by a QR code which took people to Brook’s campaign landing page.

Way back in October 2018, the Women and Equalities Committee recommended the government introduce a law criminalising cyberflashing as a sexual offence. 

Then in July 2021, a Law Commission review recommended that cyberflashing be made a criminal offence and said that current figures on it were just “the tip of the iceberg”.

UK cyberflashing

In the UK, at least 4 in 10 women and 25% of men have been cyberflashed and despite the triggering and distress it can cause, it is still not illegal in the UK unless the recipient is under 18. 

The practice has been proven to be a gateway behaviour to more dangerous acts – Sarah Everard’s killer was a flasher before becoming a rapist and murderer.

Changing the law cannot eradicate the behaviour completely, but it is an important first step towards establishing a culture that’s establishing cyberflashing as unacceptable, and introduces a more sympathetic move towards supportive response to victims.

With the proliferation of social media, file-sharing services and online dating apps, and increasing time spent online during the pandemic, this number can only be higher in 2022.

Lisa Hallgarten, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Brook, said of the campaign: “We want to challenge the misconception that cyberflashing is harmless or just a joke. 

“Sending unsolicited images can cause distress and intimidation, and it needs to be recognised as sexual harassment. 

“Having much clearer laws regarding cyberflashing would help reinforce the message that it is unacceptable. 

“However, we also recognise that making something illegal doesn’t stop it from happening. 

“People need to understand the harm that can be caused by carelessly sending these images and see that there is a real person on the receiving end. 

“There also needs to be better understanding around consent so that everyone is equipped to develop safe, healthy relationships both online and in the real world.”

Laura Jordan Bambach, President and CCO UK at Grey, explained that the #StopCyberflashing campaign was meant to shock, and added: “We’re proud to be part of this powerful campaign to drive government action and education of the harm cyberflashing causes. 

“It has been developed by a strong team of people at Grey who have had first-hand experience of this damaging and growing trend, and are passionate about changing the law, and providing access to information about how to tackle it.”