My Lords, I draw your Lordships’ attention to my declaration of interest, in that I am a vice-chair of the Local Government Association.
The noble Baroness, Lady Morgan, and others who have put their name to this amendment have comprehensively covered it and I commend them all on their ongoing commitment in this area. It is a privilege to add my name to this amendment. I also thank Refuge for providing an overwhelming picture of the scale and impact of this threat. The data and figures are compelling.
The impact on its victims is devastating. I ask that, if anyone is unsure of this amendment, they look at The Naked Threat, which recounts examples from survivors. Due to threats, one in five women experienced panic attacks. More than one in 10 felt suicidal. A third of threatened women said that the threat made them feel ashamed, anxious and used, and a quarter felt isolated. Almost one in five said that the threats directly impacted their relationships with friends and family.
Threats to share intimate images also had a direct impact on women’s physical safety. Almost one in five threatened women feared for their physical safety. And it cannot be right that almost one in 10 was forced, they said, to continue or resume the relationship with the perpetrator. It is appalling that one in seven young women is affected by the threat to share intimate images.
The case studies that the noble Baroness, Lady Crawley, raised—of Natasha, Alison and Rachel—should make us all think about this amendment. Threats to share images cause women to alter their behaviour, a point that the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan, has already covered. The real worry, however, is that because this is not illegal, 63% of women affected did not report the threats to the police.
The Domestic Abuse Bill is the right vehicle to enhance protection against threats to share, because the majority—72%—of threatened women were threatened by a current or former partner. Moreover, more than one in four women was sexually abused alongside the threats to share. More than one in six was physically abused alongside the threats.
The main issue that I want to cover, however, is that while I welcome the Law Commission review of image-based crimes, it could take many years to come to fruition. Other noble Lords with their names on this amendment have mentioned the review. Even after that process is complete, the Government will need to review the recommendations, respond to each in turn and decide whether to accept them. That will take time —and then we will need to find time in the parliamentary schedule. This Bill, which has so much support in your Lordships’ Chamber, has been almost four years in the making. While the Government insist that we wait, how many more women are expected to suffer?