Legislation that would toughen criminal penalties for the practice of “upskirting” has cleared the state Assembly.
Upskirting refers to using a cell phone or other device to secretly capture an image of a person’s genitals or breasts without the consent of the victim. State Representative Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) says current law does little to protect people from becoming victims, largely because of a loophole that limits criminal charges if the victim was clothed. For example, if a victim is wearing underwear it could result in only misdemeanor charges or possibly none at all.
The bill would make upskirting a felony, punishable by up to three and a half years in prison.
Before a vote in the Assembly Thursday, Sargent argued that “it is inconceivable that this egregious assault on our individuals’ rights and privacies is not only unpunishable, but currently permissible in Wisconsin.”
The Madison Democrat pointed to a man in her district who has been arrested at least five times for taking upskirt photos of women in public, but has never faced anything more severe than a misdemeanor charge. She said his victims were “women who are shopping in stores with their children, minding their own business, not knowing that they were being victimized.”
The legislation passed on a voice vote and now heads to the state Senate.