On Tuesday, January 4, 2022, the government unveiled the new proposal, which will amend the Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Bill. Under proposed changes to the law, anyone who photographs breastfeeding mothers without their agreement might face up to two years in prison.
People Who Photograph Women Breastfeeding Without Their Consent Could Face Jail
The Independent says that Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, who has been advocating for harsher punishment for 'breast pests,' praised the 'hard work of campaigner Julia Cooper, Jeff Smith, Baroness Helene Hayman, and Lord Pannick.'
‘We all worked across both the Lords and Commons to make the government listen to our call for change,’ she said.
Creasy was photographed breastfeeding her four-month-old on the train in North London, near Highbury and Islington, and was a victim of such an offense.
She told The Guardian:
“This was before lockdown when I had a very small baby. I realized she needed feeding, she was crying. He had his phone out and I thought he was playing with his phone, and then I realized with horror that he was taking photos."
"You feel exposed. I don’t think he can have got very much of a picture, but the sheer horror at the point when you’re focused on trying to support your newborn baby … and somebody is doing that, it was vile.”
Recalling how vulnerable she felt, she said, ‘I wondered whether he had been a resident and had recognized me because he was laughing.’
Previously, victims of common assault or battery by their partner had to report it to the police within six months, but this has now been extended to two years.
Labour MP Yvette Cooper stated:
“In domestic abuse cases, there are obvious and serious reasons why victims may take more time to report the abuse to the police, especially where there is an ongoing abusive relationship.”
MPs originally proposed the change in the time last year, when they urged for the Policing Bill to be changed.
They termed the six-month limit 'unjust,' and demanded that it be extended as quickly as possible.
Cooper explained how the previous time restrictions mean that ‘many women who do find the courage to come forward and report these incidents are being badly let down because time has run out and the perpetrator is never charged’.
‘That can leave victims feeling more vulnerable than ever, while the perpetrators go on to commit more crimes,’ she noted.
🚨we won!🚨government agrees to make it illegal to photograph or film someone breastfeeding without their consent. When people ask why the this mum votes campaign matters -this is why. Thank you Baroness Hayman, lord Pannick, @JeffSmithetc and @julia_c_cooper! Of course …1/2 pic.twitter.com/u08FMSp1iB— stellacreasy (@stellacreasy) January 4, 2022
Nicole Jacobs, the commissioner for Domestic Abuse, said she ‘strongly welcomes’ the updated rules, adding:
“All domestic abuse victims must have the time and opportunity to report to the police. This is especially important following Covid restrictions when many victims faced additional challenges to seeking help and reporting domestic abuse.”
📸 Photographing a breastfeeding woman without permission is to become its own offence, under an amendment tabled to the government's Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 👇— TLDR News UK (@TLDRNewsUK) January 4, 2022
This comes after a campaign by @stellacreasy, who was photographed feeding her baby daughter. pic.twitter.com/bZalCqzKVJ
Jacobs concluded that she hopes ‘to see increased prosecutions for domestic abuse, and hope to see that as these measures remove another barrier to bringing perpetrators to justice.’
While the two most recent changes have been welcomed, the Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Bill has sparked considerable discussion about human rights and government oppression.
We have won! The law in England and Wales will change to support victims of domestic abuse. The time limits on reporting domestic abuse incidents will be increased to 2 years (from 6 months)!— Erica Uzoma Osakwe (@EricaOsakwe) January 4, 2022
My campaign through @VictimsToo is a complete success 😭❤️https://t.co/zQ2G0pbzuD
It covers a wide range of topics and has been accused of restricting freedom of expression, the right to protest, and unfairly targeting marginalized groups.
Home Secretary Priti Patel, on the other hand, described the new law as an attempt to "rebalance the judicial system."
To all the male survivors of abuse, I hear you and I see you. You are not forgotten and this law change is for you too. Your voice is your strength and there is always power in your story🤍— Erica Uzoma Osakwe (@EricaOsakwe) January 5, 2022