Beware of upskirt blackspots

2018.7.22

The DAB Women’s Affairs Committee (the Committee) released its eighth investigative report on “upskirt blackspots” (“blackspots”) locations and follow-up work on “blackspots” that have made the list in previous years. The Committee continued its work in uncovering new “blackspots” that include large shopping malls, airport, and popular tourist spots, entertainment and exhibition facilities, MTR stations, etc., where up skirt photos/footage may be taken and even uploaded to the internet — serious offences that cannot be ignored.


Committee chair Elizabeth Quat indicated that “even though the number of reports on peepers has been dropping, numbers do not reflect reality, as many are unaware of the public blackspots; in addition, the forms of visual recording without consent have become rampant in recent years, with a continuous supply of new spy and peeping equipment available, make it impossible to prevent. Therefore, it is very important for women to be highly alert, be aware of these blackspots to protect themselves and to immediately report to the police when they suspect they have been filmed without their consent.”


Elizabeth Quat pointed out that upskirt photo taking can only be prosecuted by “disorderly conduct in a public place”, “loitering” or “access to computer with criminal or dishonest intent” charges — all are relatively minor offences and therefore, are, insufficient as deterrence or punishment. With the current three-month public consultation underway on the Law Reform Commission’s Review of Sexual Offences Subcommittee proposal on the creation of a new offence of voyeurism to criminalise acts of non-consensual observation or visual recoding of another person done for a sexual purpose, we hope that the new offence can criminalise all types of non-consensual observation or visual recording without consent in order to ensure sufficient protection for victims and sufficient deterrence and punishment for offenders.


Elizabeth Quat highlighted blackspots found at airport and tourist attractions as locations that should raise special concerns as they reflect carelessness in their designs, and the need for government departments to consider and take proper account of the needs and concerns of different genders when designing, vetting and approval proposals for large-scale building projects in order to better protect the rights of residents.


The Committee followed up on the blackspots listed in its 2016 report and found that while some have implemented improvement measures since, there remained still many that have not —a definite cause for concern. The fact is that there remains many different types of blackspots all over Hong Kong, and therefore, the Committee sees it imperative for the government and its related departments, organisations, retailers, and management companies to pay proper attention to them and implement appropriate mitigating measures, like adding frosted stickers to glass panels or displaying warning signs, so as to not become the accessories to lawbreaking behaviour. The Committee will be writing to relevant parties to demand for the implementation of improvement measures and strengthening of security measures; we will also be recommending for the Police to conduct more “cyber patrols” to target the publication and dissemination of upskirt images on the Internet.


The Committee issued an reminder to the general public to not commit such offences; according to current laws, clandestine taking of indecent photos or film in public places may constitute may contravene “loitering” section 160 of the Crimes Ordinance (Cap. 200) with a maximum penalty of imprisonment for two years; or “discorder in public places” under section 17B of the Public Order Ordinance (Cap. 245) with a maximum penalty of a fine at level 2 and imprisonment for 12 months; or the common law offence of “outraging public decency” with a maximum penalty of imprisonment for seven years. In the case of illegally uploading indecent photos or films to the internet, the penalty could be one year imprisonment.



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