Northern Ireland news

Teacher victims of upskirting tell politicians they felt worthless

The teachers described how they discovered a pupil had been taking images and videos of them, filmed up their skirts 

TEACHERS have been sharing their experience of how `upskirting' made them fearful of pupils and feeling "worthless".

The NASUWT union is lobbying assembly members as part of a campaign to change legislation in the north.

Two victims spoke openly to a cross-party group of politicians at Stormont.

The pair, who wish to remain anonymous, discovered a pupil had been taking images and videos of them, filmed up their skirts.

Earlier this year, a teenager who took upskirt pictures of teachers at a Fermanagh school was found guilty of committing acts of outraging public decency.

There is no specific criminal law of upskirting in Northern Ireland unlike England and Wales.

A Department of Justice consultation is exploring potential changes to legislation.

One of the teachers told assembly members that she was "horrified".

"It was a breach of trust and he was a pupil that I knew and trusted," she said.

"We knew what he did was morally and ethically wrong. He had filmed up our skirt and we felt totally violated by what he had done. My videos were 30 and 47 seconds long. It is very, very deliberate and hugely invasive.

"At school I became scared of children and felt like I was a victim, I felt a worthless human being. I am just an object and you can abuse me and take whatever you want from me. That was a very difficult thing to try and get over."

Both teachers said a change of the law was needed to protect all women.

"The current law doesn't protect us as victims - it doesn't serve me and my body, the body that was violated. The offence of outraging public decency gives justice to others who were present who might have been outraged - it is nothing to do with me," one said.

"We need upskirting to be made a specific offence so it is attributed to where the harm is."

The union's Northern Ireland Official Justin McCamphill said there was an opportunity for Northern Ireland to have a bespoke law that dealt with the issue.

"Comprehensive legislation which covers all forms of non-consensual distribution of private sexual images needs to be brought forward," he said.

"The legislation should cover the range of circumstances in which private sexual images are distributed without consent, including revenge pornography and voyeurism, as well as up skirting and down blousing."

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