11 “Revenge Porn” Cases in First Six Months of PA’s New Law

A law criminalizing a type of digital harassment known as “revenge porn,” an initiative of the Agenda for Women’s Health, passed into law last year. A new analysis by The Tribune-Review reveals that in the first six months the law has been on the books, 11 cases are already underway.

“I don’t know that I want to say I’m encouraged, but I do feel vindicated,” said state Sen. Judy Schwank, co-chair of the Women’s Health Caucus. Schwank championed the legislation last year.

From the report:

A year ago, the explicit photos she didn’t know were taken would have remained online. Calls and photos from strangers would have kept coming.

She would have had no recourse.

The young woman, who attended college in the Pittsburgh area, discovered that her former boyfriend had posted explicit photos of her on the Internet.

Hers is one of 11 cases across Pennsylvania in which prosecutors have used a “revenge porn” law that was enacted six months ago.

The law makes it a crime for anyone to post explicit photos of a former partner online or send them to others. Violators could be sentenced to a year in prison and fined $5,000 if the victim is an adult, or five years with a $10,000 penalty if the victim is a minor.

“It’s scary to know that a law has been implemented specifically to address situations such as these. It means that this is becoming a common occurrence, and that’s really frightening,” the woman said.

 

According to a survey conducted by the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, an anti-revenge porn advocacy group, 93 percent of victims say they have experienced “significant emotional distress,” and 49 percent say they have been stalked or harassed by people who saw their images. The group notes that 90 percent of revenge porn victims are women.

As more and more states pass similar laws, a Pennsylvania State University (PSU) fraternity has made national headlines for allegations of digital harassment. Last week, it was reported that the (PSU) fraternity Kappa Delta Rho was suspended for three years following an investigation initiated after authorities discovered a Facebook page featuring images of naked women who seem to be unconscious. According to the Washington Post, fraternity members were allegedly harassing two specific female students “who were degraded through multiple postings.” Pledges were reportedly ordered to create and share “pornographic images.”

It remains to be seen if any members of PSU’s KDR fraternity will face charges under the new law.

The Agenda for Women’s Health is a legislative package of bills sponsored and supported by the Women’s Health Caucus of the Pennsylvania Legislature, a bipartisan, pro-choice group of lawmakers committed to promoting evidence-based policy solutions to real problems faced by Pennsylvania women. This initiative was the first of three bills signed into law last legislative session.

A new effort is underway for the 2015-2016 legislative session. Last month, 13 bills were introduced in Harrisburg, including initiatives to prohibit discrimination against pregnant workers, promote equal pay and raise the minimum wage.

To stay up to date on the Agenda for Women’s Health, follow our blogtwitterfacebook and tumblr pages. Sign up for our action alerts, so that we can keep you posted and tell you what you can do to show support for the Agenda, and be part of the expanding movement of ordinary Pennsylvanians calling for rational, evidence-based policy solutions to the problems faced by women in Pennsylvania.

-Tara Murtha, WLP Staff

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