Women’s Legal Service Queensland (WLSQ) has congratulated the Queensland Government for introducing the non-consensual sharing of intimate images bill butfears the bill’s good intentions will be undermined by the state’s consent laws a parliamentary committee has heard.
WLSQ which each year provides almost 25,000 services to women experiencing domestic violence and sexual assault, has praised the objects of the bill. WLSQ CEO Angela Lynch says creating an offence specifically directed at the non-consensual sharing or threatening to share intimate images will help her clients.
“Image based abuse is a common occurrence for our clients. Intimate images taken and shared without consent or the threat to do so are an effective tactic of abuse and cause our clients enormous distress, embarrassment and shame.” Ms Lynch said.
“Now’s the time to get this legislation right. It is abundantly clear from case law, the ‘reasonableness’ requirement in proving consent focuses attention solely on accused’s beliefs. This means the law can excuse violent perpetrator behaviour that is based on misogynistic beliefs about men’s entitlements to women’s bodies and
sexist notions of women’s sexuality – no matter what a reasonable person may have thought in a similar situation.”
“We have concerns that the defendant’s access to the Mistaken Belief excuse along with the current definition of consent in the bill, will provide fertile ground in which to avoid responsibility under the proposed laws. For example, the existence of Mistaken Belief would allow for the success of arguments such as ‘she consented to the video so I thought she would be fine to share it with my friends,’ or ‘she is promiscuous anyway so sharing it shouldn’t be a problem.”
WLSQ along with sexual violence prevention services have publically called for a review of consent and the Mistaken Belief excuse as part of a broad based review of Queensland’s response to sexual assault.