On Tuesday, I had the chance to speak to Bill 12, the Intimate Images Protection Act.
This critical piece of legislation makes it unlawful to distribute, or threaten to distribute, intimate images without consent.
The Bill includes provisions allowing survivors to seek monetary damages and have their images removed from internet platforms, while providing minors with legal tools in the event that their intimate images are shared without consent.
Sexualized violence can have widespread impacts, forever affecting the mental health and livelihoods of those who are harmed. For years, advocates have pushed for this kind of legislation — Bill 12 is a step in the right direction and I am thrilled to support it.
I’m pleased to rise today and speak to Bill 12, the Intimate Images Protection Act. This important legislation addresses a pervasive type of sexualized violence in our society that has far-reaching impacts. Sharing an intimate image without the consent of the person in the image is sexualized violence. It can have widespread impacts affecting the mental health and livelihood of the person affected. The outcomes, as we’ve seen in this province, can be tragic.
This issue has been on the rise. In 2020 Statistics Canada reported an 80 percent increase in the incidents reported to police of non-consensual sharing of intimate images compared to the previous five years. Considering that sexualized violence and violent crimes are chronically, systematically underreported, it’s likely that the issue is even more widespread than the statistics will tell.
As elected representatives, we have a duty to the public. Historically, this duty has reinforced existing lines of marginalization. Historically, chambers like this have reinforced misogynistic and patriarchal norms that feed the same toxic system that contributes to sexualized violence.
It’s been a marked shift over the last decade or so. Advocates have spoken up and spoken out, often at great personal risk, to call for legal protections such as the one that the Attorney General has presented for us today.
So, as I speak to this bill, I want to acknowledge every person harmed by this type of sexualized violence. I want to thank you for your strength and advocacy for speaking up. I know that advocacy is not easy, but by advocating for change such as this, you’re helping to shape a better world and a better future.
The legislation on the table today covers intimate images, near-nude images, videos, live streams, altered images and deepfakes. I’m glad to see the breadth of this list. It’s encouraging that this legislation will also create a new fast-track process for legal decisions. I’m especially glad to see that this enables legal orders against individuals and Internet intermediaries so that images can be de-indexed and deleted.
It is also excellent to see that threatening to distribute intimate images without consent is also unlawful under this bill, as threats of image distribution can and have been used as tools of abuse. Finally, this bill also provides specific legal tools for minors whose images have been shared without their consent and establishes that survivors are able to seek monetary damages for the circulation of their images. This is excellent.
We still have a long way to go. Sexualized violence is a deep-rooted problem and requires further examination of our society and legal landscape. Our goal is to build a society in which every member is valued, safe and cared for. This legislation is a step in that direction, and I’m pleased to support it. HÍSW̱ḴE SIÁM.