HELSINKI | Finland plans to penalize the unsolicited sending of penis photos, with sentences of up to six months in prison to combat this new scourge of the web, an official at the Ministry of Justice told AFP on Tuesday.
The bill, due to be introduced in parliament next year, plans to expand the definition of sexual harassment to include “harassing orally, by photos or messages, taking photos of others or show off yourself, ”according to a ministry statement.
The penalties would range from a fine to a six-month prison term, depending on the seriousness of the facts.
Global phenomenon known as dick pics or cyber flashing (“Cyber exhibition”), unsolicited sending of penile photos has become a common problem for many people, mainly women, who receive them over the internet.
According to a study by the child rights NGO Plan International interviewing 14,000 young girls and young women in 22 countries on all continents, some 35% of them said they had received “photos or sexual images or explicit ”. Half of them said they had experienced sexual harassment online.
“So it is very relevant to look at how the law should handle this,” Sami Kiriakos, an adviser at the Finnish Ministry of Justice, told AFP.
At present, Finnish law faces a legal vacuum: sexual harassment is only recognized in the event of touching, while the sending of sexual images only fell within the ill-suited scope of the libel law.
Several countries like Scotland in 2010 have already taken action against online sexual harassment. More recently, Texas introduced a $ 500 fine for sending unsolicited sexual images.
In addition to inadequate legal texts, many countries are grappling with the difficulty of finding the authors of these messages on largely anonymous platforms.
“It can be difficult to investigate this type of crime, like almost everything that happens on the Internet,” admits Mr. Kiriakos.
“But under certain conditions, investigators have coercive measures available to them for sexual assault, including access to telecom data,” he said.
The bill also plans to change the legal definition of rape in Finland. This will correspond to a sexual intercourse without consent, where the law until now required the threat or violence.