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Skirt wearers rejoice! Thanks to the Queen’s approval, it will finally be a criminal offense to take photos under a person’s clothes without permission in the UK. We know what you’re thinking… why did it take this long?

It all started with Gina Martin. Martin, 26, was attending a music festival in London and was approached by a few men. “This group of guys were kind of, I guess, hitting on me and trying to get my attention. They were being quite rude, and I said no as many times as I could without getting angry,” she told As It Happens. One of the men then decided to take a photo from underneath Martin’s skirt. Distraught, she immediately snatched the phone from his hand and found a police officer to report the incident to. Unfortunately for Martin, the law was not in her favour.

“When I got there, I handed the phone and the picture and him in as well, because he’d followed me, and they kind of said, ‘Sorry, there’s nothing we can do about this,'” Martin recounts. This was in 2017.

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I was targeted by a creep, who put his hand between my legs and took pictures of my crotch without me knowing. 📱😔 I gave the police the phone, the picture and the guy… and they closed my case. 🗄And told me that if I hadn’t been wearing knickers they might have been able to do more. 👗👚👙I started a petition to get him prosecuted and it now has 53,000 signatures. 👫👭👬Now, the fight has changed. I’m campaigning to get upskirting listed as a Sexual Offence and I need your help. 💭♥️ ✍🏽Sign the petition, share it with the women in your life and listen out, because soon i’m going to need your help to push our MP’s to make a change. 🤜🏼💥🤛🏽 Let’s do this, girls. 📣❤️ What you’re wearing should have nothing to do with how you’re treated. You are NOT the stylist of your own abuse. 😤🤛🏽 Link is in my bio. ☝🏻☝🏻☝🏻

A post shared by G I N A M A R T I N (@ginamartinuk) on

It took two years of campaigning to make the bill a reality. In January, her campaign to stop upskirting was passed by the House of Lords. Next stop, approval from The Queen (also known as Royal Assent; in case you were wondering, the last time a monarch refused Royal Assent was in 1707). After getting the royal okay, lawbreakers now risk a two year jail sentence and their name in the sex offenders register starting in April.

As for Canada’s own stance regarding upskirting, the laws seem a bit murky. According to the government of Canada, you can be arrested for voyeurism if :

  • (a) the person is in a place in which a person can reasonably be expected to be nude, to expose his or her genital organs or anal region or her breasts, or to be engaged in explicit sexual activity;
  • (b) the person is nude, is exposing his or her genital organs or anal region or her breasts, or is engaged in explicit sexual activity, and the observation or recording is done for the purpose of observing or recording a person in such a state or engaged in such an activity; or
  • (c) the observation or recording is done for a sexual purpose.

Recently, the most notable Canadian case involved Calgary’s Jeffery Williamson, also known as CanadaCreep. Williamson posted photos of women he secretly recorded in public on a Twitter account, focusing on their clothed breasts, genitals and buttocks. In some cases, there were also upskirt photos.

According to the CBC, two of Williamson’s coworkers contacted the police and he was charged with voyeurism based on 30 videos filmed up women’s skirts. “At the time, police described the thousands of other posts — mainly of women’s backsides and chests — as disturbing and inappropriate but not illegal.” But that wasn’t all that was lurking in Williamson’s computer. Police also found child pornography, both photos and videos.

Williamson eventually pleaded guilty to the charges of distribution of voyeurism, voyeurism, and possession of child pornography and was sentenced to two years in jail.

Bottom line? If you’re still unsure of whether or not to take a creepy photo of a woman without her permission…just don’t do it.