27.01.2021: Scandalous attitude of the Public Prosecutor’s Office regarding the criminal acts from the “Public Room”

The Gender Equality Platform expresses its great disappointment with the ignorant attitude of the competent institutions regarding the “Public Room” case. We are calling on the Public Prosecutor’s Office to immediately and thoroughly clarify the case “Public Room”, which represents a crime in which many women are victims of gender-based violence.

One year after the appearance of this group on the Telegram network which is used for sexual harassment of girls by posting their photos without any consent, in a pornographic context, as well as personal data of the victims, we are witnessing new cases of such abuse. When asked by the Helsinki Committee, the Ministry of Interior answered that they acted on the case “Public Room” within their competence and submitted it to the Public Prosecutor’s Office. A year later, such Telegram groups are still active in posting photos, personal names and addresses.

We consider the attitude of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which is expected to process the case in order to prove guilt and sanction the creators and participants in such a serious form of sexual harassment of girls, many of whom are minors, as scandalous and unacceptable. We remind you that anyone who publishes private videos with pornographic content on the Internet, can be held responsible for the crime “abuse of personal data” pursuant to Article 149 of the Criminal Code, for which a fine or imprisonment of up to one year is stipulated. If the videos show a minor, the perpetrator who produced child pornography for the purpose of its distribution or transmitted or offered it through a computer system will be responsible for “production and distribution of child pornography” -Article 193-a paragraph 3 of the Criminal Code which is punishable with imprisonment of a minimum of eight years. We, as representatives of the civil sector, will insist that sexual harassment via the Internet be specifically regulated in the Criminal Code.

The silence of the institutions obviously additionally encourages the functioning and the existence of such groups in the digital space, and the girls continue to face danger to their personal safety and violated dignity and health. In the group, the harassers encourage each other and additionally humiliate the girls. The risk of even more serious forms of violence is also increasing, and current and future victims are discouraged from reporting and talking about the violence they have suffered.

This case is a chance for the institutions to show that they stand for women’s rights and protect them against gender-based violence, factually, not only declaratively! Therefore, we ask the Public Prosecutor’s Office to immediately and thoroughly clarify the case “Public Room”, which is a crime, and which should invoke criminal responsibility. We ask the Ministry of Interior to continuously undertake preventive activities and prevent the existence of such groups. We must not allow continuation of a situation in which the victims are multiplying, and the institutions are silent and ineffective in the performance of their duties.

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