Revenge porn faces five years in prison and fine of €15,000 under new law
    Share article:

    Revenge porn faces five years in prison and fine of €15,000 under new law

    Vanessa Matx (cdH), who proposed the bill

    The justice committee of the federal parliament has given a second reading to a bill intended to punish the publication of so-called “revenge porn”.

    The bill proposed by cdH would sanction the publication of intimate photographs of a person without that person’s consent. The offence is usually committed by a former sexual partner in possession of photos, hence the name.

    The publication is considered aggravated if it is carried out for the purposes of vengeance, or for financial gain. The offence will carry a possible prison term of six months to five years, as well as a fine of up to €15,000.

    The bill was passed by the committee with only two abstentions, both by Vlaams Belang.

    The new law also provides for a judge of the tribunal of first instance to order an immediate withdrawal or masking of the offending photographs, even before the case itself is judged. However, it is not certain if such a court order can always be enforced, depending on the jurisdiction in which it was published.

    The judge’s order allows the person who posted the photos, the owner of the site or the internet provider a period of six hours in which to take down the photos. The institute for equality between women and men is also empowered to bring legal action against the poster with the consent of the victim.

    At present, it is very difficult to force the removal of such images,” said Vanessa Matz (cdH), author of the bill.

    Thanks to this proposal, the distributor or publisher is to be held responsible if they fail to carry out the orders of a judge. The attack on the honour of the victim in such cases is very grave, and can ruin a person’s life. The cases of harassment that can result from such intolerable conduct have to be combatted with the utmost vigour, so as to protect victims to the maximum.”

    Having passed a second reading in committee, the bill now has to be approved by a plenary session of parliament, which is expected to take place before Easter.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times