In the United States, only a handful of states have made upskirting illegal. Earlier this month, thousands of women in South Korea protested upskirting and what has been described as a national scourge of “spy cam porn” — when footage from tiny cameras placed in shower rooms or bathrooms is then released online.
In Japan, upskirting, particularly of female high school students, regularly makes headlines. In 2016, for example, a male teacher in the city of Kyoto was caught taking photos under girls’ skirts, and an entire subgenre of magazines exists around photos taken without women’s consent.
In Hong Kong, a newly renovated building was forced to place opaque panels and stickers on stairwells and walls following complaints of peeping Toms.
Ms. Martin described her ordeal in social media posts that went quickly viral and prompted other women to share their experiences. The police officer to whom she reported the incident told her: “It shows more than you’d like, but it’s not graphic,” Ms. Martin recalled in a detailed account to the BBC. “So there’s not much we can do because you can’t see anything bad. I’m going to be honest — you might not hear much from us,” he told her.
“I felt like I had no control over my own body,” Ms. Martin said. “I felt completely sort of, in disarray.”
The invasive offense has caught national attention in recent months, particularly after a vice-president of Live Nation, an American concert promoter, was given a 20-month suspended sentence earlier this year for filming up women’s skirts. Investigators subsequently discovered that the promoter, Andrew Macrae, had collected nearly 50,000 private images of strangers without their knowledge. He was caught when an off-duty policeman noticed him placing a camera shaped like a pen in a bag that he then placed between a women’s legs at a train station.
Perpetrators have targeted girls as young as 10 in streets, nightclubs and restaurants. Over the past two years in Britain, 78 incidents were reported but only 11 suspects were charged under the current laws on voyeurism and public indecency.
In 2015, Britain made “revenge porn” — the disclosure of private sexual images without consent — a criminal offense. Previously, revenge porn cases were dealt with under copyright or harassment laws.