Sheffield MP hails it a ‘big day for women’ as upskirting becomes criminal offence

A Sheffield MP has hailed today a ‘big day for women’ after upskirting was made a criminal offence following a campaign by a woman targeted at a music festival.

Monday, 15th April 2019, 5:35 pm

Gill Furniss, Brightside and Hillsborough MP, made the comment after changes meant offenders will now face up to two years in prison for taking an image or video under somebody's clothing in order to see their genitals or underwear.

Gina Martin, who led the calls for change, was waiting to watch The Killers perform at the British Summer Time music festival in London's Hyde Park in July 2017 when a man put his phone between her legs and took pictures.

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Gill Furniss

A petition was signed by more than 100,000 people and the new legislation was approved in the House of Lords and has now passed the formality of Royal Assent to become law.

Ms Furniss said: Today is a big day. The fact that 100,000 people signed a petition to highlight this and provoke a debate in Parliament shows the strength of feeling among both men and women.

“Today marks the day where it enshrined in law and that people realise it’s not an acceptable way to behave. It offers protection because when people realise what the consequences it will act as a deterrent.”

Ms Furniss also praised the work of the #MeToo campaign against sexual harassment and sexual assault.

The movement went viral in October 2017 as a hashtag Twitter a in an attempt to demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace, following sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein.

She said: “I think the #MeToo campaign has really sparked thoughts in a lot women’s minds about what’s acceptable and what isn’t and it has been a really good spark to look at a lot of issues.

“We have got a long way to go but, at the minute while we have got that will to move forward and move things forward for women, we are on the right track.”

Data obtained by the Press Association showed there were three reported incidents on upskirting in South Yorkshire in 2018.