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Mexico's Senate approves digital violence law to stem 'revenge porn'

by Christine Murray | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 6 November 2020 00:31 GMT

FILE PHOTO: A visitor takes pictures of an adult film actress during the Eros Show in the Bulgarian capital Sofia April 2, 2008. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

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The measure would ban sharing of 'sexual content' without consent and bar promotion of sexist stereotypes and hate messages online

By Christine Murray

MEXICO CITY, Nov 5 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Mexico's Senate on Thursday unanimously approved legislation that would punish digital violence such as 'revenge porn,' a victory for victims who spent years campaigning for its passage.

Known as Olimpia's law, the measure would ban the sharing of 'sexual content' without the subject's consent and ban the promotion of sexist stereotypes and hate messages online.

The Senate in an 87-0 vote approved the measure, which calls for prison terms of three to six years and fines for perpetrators.

"This was one of the debts that we had with all women, girls and teenagers," said Sen. Martha Lucia Micher, president of the government's Gender Equality Commission, adding that she had been a victim of the phenomenon herself.

Around the world, countries have passed laws to try to curb revenge porn, when private sexual photos or videos are shared without consent, and other online violence, particularly that is aimed at women.

Revenge porn reportedly surged across Europe under coronavirus lockdowns, as abusive partners or former partners took advantage of being stuck at home in front of computer screens.

The measure is named after Olimpia Coral Melo, who became an activist after finding a video online of her and her then-boyfriend having sex when she was 18 and vowed to help outlaw the practice in Mexico.

Her campaigning led to laws being passed in multiple states, but Thursday's vote was a crucial step toward creating a federal ban.

Some critics have said the measure is too focused on criminal punishment and could harm victims who want to avoid a judicial process.

Digital rights group R3D said it would give prosecutors the power to bring cases regardless of the victim's will and punish those who share content, even if they were unaware the subject had not consented.

"The proposed reform is focused exclusively on punitive measures, ... exposing the people affected to processes of revictimization," R3D said in a statement.

The bill will now pass to the lower chamber for consideration.

Related stories:

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Once a target of revenge porn, this Danish activist is reclaiming her identity

Moroccan 'revenge porn' victims smash taboos by speaking out

(Reporting by Christine Murray; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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