MSU Statement: Image-based Sexual Assault

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Maynooth Students’ Union (MSU) wishes to respond to recent events surrounding the issue of image-based sexual abuse (IBSA) and make our position clear. IBSA refers to the sharing of explicit or sexual images or videos, without the consent of the person who owns the content, which causes deliberate harm to a person against their will. IBSA is a violation of bodily autonomy, privacy, consent, and boundaries, so it can have the same impact as other forms of sexual violence.

Currently, in Ireland, it is not illegal for someone to share these images without the owner's prior consent. MSU believes IBSA should be illegal, these incidents are not only a breach of consent but a breach of privacy. We are aware that some of our membership, mainly women, are currently being subjected to image-based sexual abuse online. These people deserve the right to feel protected and seek justice.

MSU is committed to lobbying the Irish government for the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill to be signed into Irish law allowing people who commit imaged-based sexual abuse to be convicted of a crime and can be held accountable for their actions.

This legislation has been developed, but due to the election and subsequent delay in government formation, and the Covid-19 pandemic, it has not yet been enacted. We are joining other campaign and advocacy groups in calling for this to be prioritised as a matter of urgency.

People affected by IBSA can suffer harmful effects on their mental health, be subject to cyber-bullying, and job losses. MSU encourages anyone who has been affected to seek support from any of the bodies listed below.

Women’s-Aid Ireland 24-hour helpline: Call 1800 341900.
MU Counselling Service: Request a call back
‘Text About It’ Counselling text service: Text 50808
Dublin Rape Crisis Centre: Call 1800 77 8888
Niteline: Call 1800 793 793 (8.30pm-12.30am)
Samaritans: Call 116 123

Maynooth students are also welcome to contact us for peer-to-peer advice and signposting:
MSU VP Welfare & Equality, Ciarán Watts:
MSU President, Kelly Rennick:


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