Tag Archives: internet

Why ‘upskirting’ should be a sexual offence: explained

Cover photo: Tobias Zils

Everything you need to know about this act and what you can do to make it illegal.

After months of campaigning from different sides, Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath, tabled a parliamentary bill to make ‘upskirting’ a criminal offence. Having cross-party support, it is to be debated on 11 May. But what exactly are MPs debating?

What is ‘upskirting’?

‘Upskirting’ is the act of photographing someone’s groin area beneath their skirt (also applies to dresses) without their consent. It is often performed in public places where it is hard to spot offenders.

A recent Freedom of Information request done by the Press Association revealed that only 34 percent of police forces in England are keeping records as it is not classified as a sexual offence. Only 11 out of 78 offenders pursued were charged since 2015.

A 10 year old girl was involved in one of these cases, but it couldn’t be taken forward because of insufficient evidence, as reported by Avon and Somerset Police.

Similar cases have led to girls wearing shorts to school underneath their skirts to protect themselves from being exposed. Dr. Mary Bousted, president of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) told The Daily Telegraph: “Social media just provides a new vehicle, another way girls can be harassed.”

What is being done about it?

Campaigners are working towards amending the Voyeurism (Offences) Bill 2017-19 currently passing through Parliament. Clearer laws are needed regarding image-based sex abuse, especially when it involves minors.

Gina Martin became a lead campaigner for upskirting becoming a sexual offence after her own experience at the British Summer Time music festival in London’s Hyde Park. Making the offender delete the picture was the only thing the police could do, and her case was closed because there was no legal way to prosecute.

Martin says: “So many cases can’t be prosecuted because there is no specific offence to prosecute it under.”

The Fawcett Society’s sex discrimination law review (SDLR) panel has called to make it an offence on their Final Report published in January. Chief Executive Sam Smethers told The Guardian “technology meant women are experiencing sexual harassment in new ways and that legislation needs to respond”.

What is a sexual offence then?

A sexual offence happens when there is no consent from any of the parties involved in any kind sexual experience. It can be touching, groping, grabbing, unwanted sexual remarks, penetrating, etc.

This is outlined in the Sexual Offences Act introduced in 2003 for England and Wales, which the Ministry of Justice insists covers upskirting already. The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) say upskirting can be prosecuted under Section 67 of the Act regarding voyeurism or the criminal offence of public nuisance for outraging public decency.

However, the former only applies in private spaces where the victim is “in a place which would reasonably be expected to provide privacy” and they’re in the bathroom, their groin or breasts are covered only with underwear or exposed and/or they’re performing a sexual act that is not of the public kind.

Similarly, the victim is completely disregarded when it is prosecuted for outraging public decency as this revolves around the public and its accepted standards of decency and there must be at least two witnesses of the act.

Gina Martin is working with MPs from all major political parties, law authorities, police high commissioners, academics, and has 98,000 signees on her petition to change the law.

“There is a big gap in the law and it has to be a sexual offence because the law sets precedent of what is right and wrong in society. It would also means victims have anonymity and persecutors are prosecuted as sex offenders as they should be.”

Upskirting infographic

Graphics by author

How can you help?

You can write to your local MP and sign Gina’s petition on Care2.

You can raise awareness by sharing on social media and telling your friends and family about it, like ITV presenter Holly Willoughby.

You can start your own campaign, like Anna Dovgalyuk, a Russian student trying to make it illegal worldwide. The caption on the video reads: “This video is ‘dedicated’ to all who love to peek under skirts. On the behalf all women who became your victims – here, look! And stay away from us.”

If you’ve been a victim of upskirting, don’t be afraid to tell the authorities. Even if they can’t prosecute the offender, they can make them delete the picture from their phone.

If that makes you uncomfortable, Safeline provides specialist services to support people affected by sexual abuse. They recognise upskirting as a type of abuse.

If you’re not comfortable talking about it but still want to share your story, Martin is building the first data base for upskirting cases.

Esports commentator Anders Blume shares his story

Discovering eSports was almost like a “religious experience” for Anders Blume, the now voice of Counter-Strike, a title awarded by fans.

Anders is one of the largest play-by-play commentators in the growing eSports scene (also known as pro gaming or competitive video games). He grew up in the small town of Farum, Denmark, playing video games from a young age. It was in early 2013 when Anders did his first cast (commentary) of a match of Counter-Strike, the 5v5 competitive first person shooter. It wasn’t long before this side project of his allowed him to cast matches to sold out arena’s and millions of concurrent viewers online.

Q: When did you get into Counter-Strike?

A: I got into Counter-Strike because a friend of mine took me to a LAN café in the centre of Copenhagen. That was not the first time I’d ever been to a LAN café but it was the first time I’d tried playing Counter-Strike, and that was in 1999. I would say I walked away from that experience thinking “This is something else, this was too much fun”. I just kept coming back.

Q: What do you think it is about Counter-Strike that was different than other games you’d played?

A: It’s hard to say. In retrospect I think it has to do with a great mix of being able to play as a team but that each individual member of the team can do enough to change the outcome of the game. Also it has an infinitely deep or high skill ceiling, you can always become better at the game in some way and that’s just very appealing I think. Back then, at the time, maybe there was that feeling and we just didn’t know how to say it but, it was almost like having some sort of religious experience walking away from that game. I remember the train ride home and everything. I remember how – for lack of a better word – ‘high’ we all were on just having played the game. It might also have that kind of childhood nostalgia to it, but it was something like that.

Q: Did you ever compete in Counter-Strike?

A: Yeah, I did. The landscape is so different now. I think if you tried to measure it against the modern landscape it would be hard to find a fitting way to do that. We started off with a friends-based team, then eventually some of us wanted to play a bit more so we had to find other people online that we thought were good at the game. Obviously, the kind of sponsorships you could get back then were ridiculous compared to today, so it was all just sort of, hobby level. But yeah, we did take it seriously.

DH Leipzig16 NaVi with trophy

Q: What were you doing before you started casting?

A: Well I came out of High School in 2006. So, between 2006 and 2013 I did a bunch of different things all at once. I started doing physics at University and then that didn’t really work out. Then I did Biology and that didn’t really work out. Then I did English and almost got my bachelors in that by the time I’d started casting. In-between all of those things, I’d go back to this one job that I’d had all along, which was database development that I’d sort of learned on the side, at a local company. So that’s where I was at for a long time I would say, no real sense of direction.

Q: So, after hopping around a few subjects at University and working on the side, what made you try casting out?

A: Well, every time I would have time off from University, I would inevitably think to myself “Man, I want to be good at something”. I bought a really nice electronic piano that cost way too much money, and thought I’d learn how to play the piano, that must be nice? Or I thought I’d write a short story, just like 50 pages or something. I had all these, let’s call them ‘creative outlets’ – things that I wanted to do basically. They were a way to try and escape because I knew I wasn’t doing something that I wanted to do. The casting was one of the things I tried, and it just worked. That was just it, the first time I did it I knew like “Shit, this is too good” you know? I have to keep doing this.

Q: Had you always admired casting in traditional sports and wanted to give it a go, or directly through eSports?

A: Well I was never really in to traditional sports so I don’t even know much about football or any other commentary at all but yeah, I was listening to a lot of other people casting Counter-Strike specifically. I thought that they were missing a bunch of stuff that’s going on. I think I even messaged them and told them you know “Listen, you guys are really missing out on some of the details in this game”. And then nothing happened. So, I thought. Okay. What if I do it? What if I try and talk about the game? I have a headset and I have the internet so I’ll do it. And I did. The first night was maybe ten people watching, and maybe seven of them were just my friends. Then the next night it was 20 and maybe still seven of them were my friends. Then a week in it was like over a hundred. When I say those numbers now it sounds kind of ridiculous, but back then it was a hell of a lot of people.

View this post on Instagram

ESLone New York, this crowd is amazing.

A post shared by Anders Blume (@rofanders) on

Q:What was it like going from seven viewers to over a million in the space of a few years?

A: What I did in the beginning was think to myself “How big of an auditorium would I have to rent to get these hundred people and talk to them in real life?”. That mental image helped me a lot in thinking you know, now we have 500 people, now we have 1000 people. That’s so many people you know?

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say to the readers who aren’t very much aware of eSports?

A: I’ll say this. In case you are someone who is wandering around in life and is not really sure what you want to be or where to go, one of the huge upsides of working in eSports is that the foundations haven’t really settled yet. If you are someone who wants to test, build and create different or strange things, there’s a bigger chance you’ll be able to do it within E-sports than some of the other places that have existed for a long time. Those places have traditions and a culture of doing things a certain way. There may be a lot more risk here but there’s also a lot more potential. It might be worth thinking about that if you’re going to architect your career in a given direction, that there is a field out there that is growing and growing. You might have a lot of freedom to do weird things, whether you are in advertising, or PR, or Coding or whatever. All these kinds of fields are relevant to eSports and have a lot of room for expansion.

Follow Anders on twitter here: @OnFireAnders

Is social media impacting our self-perception?


Image: Free stock photo

Is social media a blessing or a curse? Not long ago one of my friends decided to delete her Instagram account and as a person who loves the app and uses it constantly, I couldn’t understand her decision. Her answer was simple: it’s the pressure.

The pressure of posting the perfect picture, with the perfect filter and outfit and so on. You will never see someone advertising their negative traits or posting an unflattering selfie. Nowadays, social media is all about projecting our best, unrealistic self. We spend an awful amount of time trying to create a digital identity that would only show how good we look or how funny and interesting we are. In our battle for likes we forget how forget how social media can wreck our self-esteem and how we perceive ourselves.

But then it’s not just us who put on the pressure of portraying the ‘perfect life’. It also comes from celebrities or brands, who are the main promoters of unrealistic standards. Studies show that all those lean figures and perfect faces that we see all over Instagram on a daily basis, only lowers our self-perception. Comparing yourself to others becomes a habit and if someone’s life looks remotely better, we start thinking low of our own.

Although the negative effects of social media can impact both genders, women are the main sufferers, especially when it comes to fitness or beauty ideals and expectations that they encounter online. According to a study made by the brand Dove “82 percent of women feel the beauty standards set by social media are unrealistic” and “almost three quarters of women believe social media comments critiquing women’s beauty are destructive to their self-esteem.”

So what is there to do about it? First of all, people should stop comparing themselves to others. We are only comparing ourselves to an ideal, unrealistic figure and not a real representation of a person. And when it comes to the things we share online, they should be a reflection of our offline persona, of our true self.


Image: Free stock photo

In conversation with a rising blogger

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Credits: Maria Joynson

Maria Joynson is a 19 year old blogger from London. In January 2016 she started blogging about beauty, although now she turns her hand at everything including fashion, food and a series of posts filled with helpful advice for new bloggers. With over 10.000 followers across her social media platforms and amazing feedback on mariaj.co.uk, Maria’s tiny hobby is becoming a huge part of her life. Together we discussed about her experience with blogging, standing out in the community, voicing your own opinion online and changes that need to be made in the blogging world.

Read more

I like long conversations, interesting people

When I got into Birmingham for my chat with Ryan I didn’t know what to expect. Spending time with a member of your favorite bands is as exciting as it is when you’re a kid and you taste an ice cream for the first time. Birmingham was very cold that day but I was hesitant to just get backstage, sit down and talk.


“I didn’t prepare any question, I just want to have a conversation with you” I tell him ahead of our talk. He laughs.

Ryan Scott Graham is the bassist and backing vocalist for State Champs and right now they’re in Birmingham on their UK tour supported by Northbound and As It Is. They’ve got one show left in London then Ryan is off to Florida to work on his second album for his solo project “Speak Low If You Speak Love”, an acoustic project he’s very passionate about.

Why did he start making music? What made him grab that bass at such young age?

“Growing up I was a baseball player, and that’s what I thought I would do and then as I went to school – this is funny because I remember very vividly- one of my friends had a t-shirt with a local band on it, they were called The Great Basement Escape, the t-shirt had a ship on it. I wanted to buy the t-shirt so my friend said they were playing a show that week and I should’ve gone. At that time, I wasn’t playing or listening to any rock music. I didn’t know what to expect. I was probably 14? I ended up going to this show with him. I was amazed, it was cool although I didn’t really understand anything about it. It was totally strange to me. I was wearing this big jersey and sweatpants. I looked ridiculous … after that, I asked my mom to buy me a guitar. I started learning by myself and here I am.

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If you’ve never thought about Ryan playing the World Series, this is definitely your chance. It’s true State Champs came after his acoustic writing but that’s how he started and well-known in the music scene.

But speaking of which, what are the struggles of a musician nowadays to be successful? What does inspire him and why is Ryan so passionate about Japan, books and art?

Watch the full interview here:

Find out more about Speak Low If You Speak Love here.
State Champs are playing Download 2017, get tickets here.


Tomorrowland, where the magic happens … but not for everyone

Tomorrowland, the Electronic Dance Music festival, sold its 360,000 tickets within six minutes. Thousands of fans across the world were disappointed after waiting to grab a pass to the ‘magic land’ for more than two hours.


“I’ve been refreshing the website for hours now. What’s going on?” Anna from Poland posted on her Twitter.

The expensive price didn’t stop EDM fans to enjoy their weekend. The festival which is split between 2 weekends with different lineups at the end of July offers different types of tickets: prices go from €145,00 (123,81 GBP) for a single day ticket to €2367,00 (2021.05 GBP) for an all-comfort experience. Tickets for a full-madness weekend start at €436,00 (372.28 GBP).

‘When you’re from America and you know you’ll never be able to attend Tomorrowland, because you know, no tickets.’ James from Boston complained on his account.

Because if you’re not resident in Europe, getting tickets is basically impossible. Due to a phenomenal demand, Tomorrowland allows only 20 couples of tickets per country located outside Europe. Who’s the fastest finger to grab online tickets before the servers crashed down.

In 2016, over 2m people trying to buy tickets made Tomorrowland’s servers burn down causing the website to crash down several times. Fans went crazy but organizers apologised straight after the accident.

Needless to say, tickets sold out 2 minutes after the website reopened.

The event located in Boom between Antwerp and Bruxelles in Belgium will be hosted by acts like Martin Garrix, deadmau5 and Tiësto gathers around travelers from all over the world every single year.


The production behind the festival decided to organize spin-offs in other countries. As of 2017 TomorroWorld in the United States, India and Brasil host the same event in the summer.