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Stephen Bear sentencing takes intimate image abuse seriously

Stephen Bear
Vanessa Feltz, Talk TV

Stephen Bear has been sentenced to 21 months imprisonment for the taking and sharing of a sexual video of his then girlfriend, influencer Georgia Harrison, without her consent.

I discussed this case with Vanessa Feltz on TalkTV, with Sangita Myska on LBC and with Henry Bonus on Times Radio (02:24:22).

How significant is this case?

It is a powerful recognition of the life-shattering impacts of intimate image abuse; Georgia Harrison described how the abuse was devastating, violating and humiliating and that the conviction and sentence were a vindication of her fight for justice.

The high profile nature of the case, and headlines around the world, will raise awareness of the serious nature of taking and sharing intimate images without consent, and that such actions can have very real consequences.

But there are no winners here. Georgia has had her life ruptured, impacting on her personal and professional live. And Stephen Bear is in prison. We must redouble efforts to prevent and reduce intimate image abuse.

What should happen next?

Georgia Harrison has called on the Government to strengthen the Online Safety Bill. This could be done by adopting a Code of Practice on Online Violence Against Women and Girls as I’ve recommended. The law on intimate image abuse also needs urgent reform to cover all form of taking and sharing without consent, not just where perpetrators are motivated by causing distress.

What message does this case send to other victims?

I also spoke to Sangita Myska on LBC on 4 March and highlighted that while the police took Georgia’s case seriously, this is not always the case. A mum then phoned in - Listen here - about how her daughter had been filmed without her consent and her ex-boyfriend was now threatening to share the sexual video. They discussed my somewhat depressing comments that the police may not take it seriously.

I feel bereft and angry that this mother and daughter do not have more options – my brief comments on this are here and here on twitter.

Did Stephen Bear express any remorse?

I was also interviewed by Henry Bonsu on Times Radio (02:24:22) which includes audio of Stephen Bear on the eve of sentencing refusing to express any remorse or give an apology, despite his conviction and impending imprisonment.

Further reading

Read more in the Online Safety Bill section.

See my article about the need for a Code of Practice to cover online misogyny here.

Intimate Image Abuse Law Reform: read more in this policy briefing about how the criminal law should be comprehensively reformed and more support given to survivors. This policy briefing was prepared in response to the Law Commission consultation on law reform.

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