Photographing breastfeeding women in public without their consent will be made illegal in England and Wales. People who take pictures of breastfeeding mothers without their consent could face up to two years in jail, under a proposal put before the parliament on Tuesday, reports The Guardian.
The law will be a part of the the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill – in which it has been included as an amendment by the Ministry of Justice. Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said it would help women who are being “pestered, whether it’s for self-gratification or for harassment purposes”.
“No new mum should be harassed in this way. We are committed to doing everything we can to protect women, make them feel safer, and give them greater confidence in the justice system,” Mr Raab said.
According to the BBC, Manchester-based designer Julia Cooper started a campaign to criminalise taking photos of breastfeeding mothers in public last April.
“I sat down to breastfeed my daughter and I noticed a man on another bench staring at us,” she told the BBC.
“I stared back to let him know that I had clocked his gaze, but undeterred he got out his digital camera, attached a zoom lens and started photographing us.”
Ms Cooper said she felt “violated” by the incident and contacted her local Labour MP Jeff Smith and his colleague Stella Creasy. Ms Creasy had herself experienced being photographed without her consent while breastfeeding her baby on a train. The pair took the campaign to the House of Commons, calling for breastfeeding voyeurism to be made illegal.
According to Yahoo News, the Ministry of Justice said “taking non-consensual photographs or video recordings of breastfeeding mothers” would be made a “specific” breastfeeding voyeurism offence in England and Wales, punishable by up to two years in prison and covering “situations where the motive is to obtain sexual gratification, or to cause humiliation, distress or alarm”.
England and Wales are countries that are part of the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. According to Practical Law, the United Kingdom has three separate legal systems: one each for England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
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