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The NASUWT has continued its campaign to change the law with regard to upskirting and the taking of intimate images without consent in Northern Ireland by lobbying MLAs at Stormont.

The Union hosted a positive meeting with MLAs and their advisors from across the political spectrum, who were shocked and appalled when they heard from two NASUWT members who have been victims of the vile practice.

In a committee room at Stormont the two teachers, who wish to remain anonymous, gave powerful and moving accounts to the MLAs of their experiences from when they discovered a pupil of theirs had been taking images and videos of them, filmed up their skirts and between their legs.

One said: “I remember being surprised and horrified because he was somebody I had taught and I was horrified it was him. It was a breach of trust and he was a pupil that I knew and trusted.

“We knew what he did was morally and ethically wrong. He had filmed up our skirt and we felt totally violated by what he had done.”

“My videos were 30 and 47 seconds long – can you image that image up my skirt directed at my private region for that length? it is very, very deliberate and hugely invasive.”

The member said: “I couldn’t just accept the fact that somebody just owned parts of my body, specifically in between my legs, my underwear, that whole private region, and somebody took those without my permission.

“That was a really difficult thing to understand. At school I became scared of children and felt like I was a victim, I felt a worthless human being. I am just an object and you can abuse me and take whatever you want from me. That was a very difficult thing to try and get over.”

Both teachers said the change of the law was needed to protect teachers and girls and women across society.

Speaking to MLA’s one said: “In terms of when you move forward which I hope you will, the wording and the terminology that you use when you create this law, which I have every confidence you will do, is that you need to go further than what the UK have done, what England and Wales have done, what Scotland has done.

“You need to make sure nobody has to sit there as a victim and define that victimhood when they have been objectified and violated in the most grossly personal way for just doing their job.”

One said: “The current law doesn’t protect us as victims – it doesn’t serve me and my body, the body that was violated. The offence of outraging public decency gives justice to others who were present who might have been outraged – it is nothing to do with me.

“We need upskirting to be made a specific offence so it is attributed to where the harm is. The harm is our bodies that have been violated.”

Both said that although they were getting on with their lives, the sense of violation and vulnerability was still with them and they were still affected. They felt unsure when in their community what others were thinking and if they knew who they were and what they had been involved in.

One teacher added: “That sense of vulnerability has not gone away. When I see older boys and girls out of school my immediate thought is have they seen those images of me up my skirt.”

Justin McCamphill explained to MLAs that a law needed to be passed with the test that the taking of private sexual images was taken without consent and was deliberate and non-consensual.

He told them: “That law doesn’t go far enough and there is an opportunity for Northern Ireland to have a bespoke law that deals with this issue.

“The NASUWT is of the view that comprehensive legislation which covers all forms of non-consensual distribution of private sexual images needs to be brought forward.

“The legislation should cover the range of circumstances in which private sexual images are distributed without consent, including revenge pornography and voyeurism, as well as up skirting and down blousing.”

Speaking later the members said: "The support we got from NASUWT has been immeasurable. They were with us at every step of the process from school meetings, challenging the Public Prosecution Service, taking the judicial review, internal grievances and finally getting a prosecution through court.

“Their support never wavered in fact it grew throughout the process. What is fascinating though, is how their narrative never changed from day one; together we have been saying the same thing and fighting the same battles for two-and-a-half years.” 

 
 
 

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